In this edition of ‘Buy-Side View’, we speak with Anoo Mehmi, digital marketing lead UK & Europe at sports nutrition brand Quest Nutrition. Influence marketing is a big focus for Quest, and in this interview Mehmi discusses how she believes brands can help clean up the influencer space. She also discusses why Quest is working to build out its in-house media buying capabilities, and why tracking share of voice and word of mouth is a priority for the brand.
What is your biggest bugbear when it comes to video and OTT advertising?
Most brands’ videos, ours included, have to be optimised for the social channels. So for example Instagram is a big channel for most brands, and especially for us as a sports nutrition brand. And what we find challenging is getting the messaging and the creative right within that small format, and within such a short space of time.
So video is very important, but the challenge is creating content that really cuts through. The protein product market is such a noisy, competitive place, as they’re very popular with millennials and younger audiences who are very health conscious. And you’ve got startup brands popping up all over the place, so it’s very hard to get cut through.
That’s the challenge really, trying to make great video which gets the brand message across and gets cut through, within less than ten seconds.
How much media buying – if any – are you carrying out in-house?
So we have a vision that we would like to build capabilities in-house, we have an amazing platform that we’re using called Sprinklr, and one day we’d like to be able to do a lot of our media buying in-house. But at the moment, we still do our big media buys via an agency, though we do a small amount of boosting ourselves as we have that capability.
We like the idea of in-housing because of the agility it gives us, and how it lets us understand our audience’s behaviour and respond to it. The beauty of the audiences we work with is that we see results within less than 30 seconds on whether an ad is working or not. And we want to be able to optimise and change creative ourselves in house to respond to that feedback.
And when we’re outsourcing our media buying, that audience piece is missing, because we believe that nobody understands our audiences better than us.
Which ad tech solution has delivered the most impact for your business?
Currently we’re not working with any ad tech solutions directly, but we are using an influencer platform called Mavrck, because influencer marketing is a big focus for us. They connect brands with influencers, and tell you how influential they are and what levels of engagement they get. So they’ve been very helpful for us with recruiting influencers.
Which do you think video advertising is the most effective for – generating awareness and brand-building, or driving short-term sales?
In EMEA at the moment we’re in a stage of our life cycle where we’re raising awareness – we’re the number one protein product in the US, but in the EU we’ve still got a long way to go. So across EMEA, what we’re trying to do is use video in Instagram Stories to generate awareness. And that’s working really well for us at the moment.
What could brands do to help clean up the industry?
I feel quite passionately about the influencer marketing space, and I think the recent regulation we’ve seen around paid influencer marketing has been really welcome. I think in the influencer space, brands really need to be more authentic about what kind of people they’re working with, and how those influencers are aligned with the brand’s values.
What I see a lot of at the moment is brands working with people they perceive as very influential online. But just because an influencer has a million followers, that doesn’t mean that customers actually relate to them well.
What our research is showing is that gen Z and millennials really relate to authentic brands and influencers who give back to the community, society and the environment. And I think that’s the future, we’ll see more brands giving something back to society, and they’ll want to work with influencers who do the same.
Which metrics do you value the most when it comes to video advertising?
So online we like to look at our share of voice, and track word of mouth. We track our mentions and the conversations that our campaigns and content are generating. We believe that for our brand, that’s the most powerful impact we can generate online.
That’s partly because of where we’re at as a brand in EMEA, as I say we’re in a stage of our lifecycle where we’re looking to grow awareness. So word of mouth is quite important strategically because the positive sentiment consumers are showing towards us will directly translate into sales.
If you had £1,000,000 to spend and were forced to choose between content marketing, influencer marketing or paid advertising, which would you choose and why?
I’d choose influencer marketing. We do a mix of all three at the moment, but I believe that influencer marketing is the way forward for us – it’s very powerful in the sports nutrition and fitness category.
Who in the industry inspires you the most today?
There’s a CBD brand called Apothem which I find very interesting. I think CBD oil is going to become a very competitive category, but I think the way that Apothem are approaching the marketplace is very different.
They’ve started growing with influencers, without any big spend on media. And they’ve naturally started with a sense of corporate social responsibility, with values around giving back to the community. And because they’ve started out getting all those basic parameters right, when they do introduce paid media or anything big like that, I think it will work very well because their foundations have been set up correctly.
Out of all the video and TV advertising campaigns you’ve been involved with, which are you most proud of?
I think our Valentine’s Day creative for our raspberry and white chocolate bar worked particularly well, we saw really great engagement rates with that campaign.