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HomeCloud ComputingHow one telecom giant increases advertising conversions and saves millions annually

How one telecom giant increases advertising conversions and saves millions annually

Managing spend in the world of advertising is complex. Fortunately, advances in data analytics are making it easier for marketing teams to gain deeper and faster insights into the impact of every dollar spent on campaigns. The key for teams is to find the right tools to cover the broadest possible range of channels and campaign types to understand which ads work, and which don’t.

With over 45 million customers, Virgin Media O2 recently set out on a journey to overhaul its customer data platform (CDP). The company focused development on three main use cases, including customer suppression to improve relevancy, lookalike personas to identify new customer opportunities, and delivering relevant offers for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. To achieve its goals, Virgin Media O2 opted to work with Google Cloud and partner Zeotap.

The result: Virgin Media O2 saved millions in annual ad spend while increasing clickthrough rates (CTR) by 38% and conversions by 43%. Let’s take a look at how Google Cloud and Zeotap supported the company’s success.

A smarter approach to customer suppression

“Everyone is focused on customer suppression today,” says Andy Lewis, Head of Paid Traffic Acquisition at Virgin Media O2, referring to the practice of removing consumers from specific marketing campaigns so they do not see certain ads. “But not everyone is doing it well. We needed to be certain we could get the right ads in front of the right people anytime we wanted. When we started working with Google Cloud and Zeotap, we had several priorities but none were as important as customer suppression.”

Zeotap worked with Virgin Media O2 to understand its multiple business requirements, as well as its hopes for a new CDP to power real-time data and analytics applications. Virgin Media O2 had hundreds of data sources spanning on-prem legacy infrastructure, cloud platforms, and solutions like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. 

When attempting to conduct customer suppression in the past, Virgin Media O2 had to use CRM data to create profiles, manually upload them to individual activation platforms, and live with a single digit suppression rate. 

The Zeotap CDP is built on Google Cloud and simplifies the process of bringing data from multiple sources in a single data warehouse, BigQuery. Each time Zeotap and Virgin Media O2 identified a use case, they would focus on connecting the most strategic three to five data sources — versus hundreds — to ensure the quality of data available in the system would provide the most value.

“Zeotap worked to understand our business, and that made a huge difference,” says Lewis. “We were also impressed by how quickly they worked, as the new CDP was live and delivering value within just four months of signing the contract. We’re already seeing a 70% improvement in customer suppression, which is a massive step in the right direction.”

Once the CDP was up and running, Virgin Media O2 could use it to better understand personas, distinguish between current and prospective customers, and reduce redundant ad spend. This increased the company’s success at presenting customers with ads best suited to them — and not wasting valuable resources on ineffective ad campaigns.

Investing savings into better customer experiences

The first phase of the project enabled Virgin Media O2 to save millions annually on ad spending through enhanced customer suppression. It chose to reinvest that money into finding more ways to improve customer experiences with marketing campaigns.

“Once we could better identify customers and enhance performance, our next priority was addressing our lookalike strategies to uncover opportunities to reach new customers,” says Lewis. “This really only required reading a relatively small number of data sources into the CDP. Along with Zeotap’s intuitive, integrated UI, we found it easy to continually evolve our approaches.”

Using Google Cloud, Zeotap, and Google Analytics has had a huge impact on how Virgin Media O2 conducts its advertising campaigns. “We’ve seen so many quantifiable improvements in our advertising strategies since the new CDP went live, and we know this is just the beginning,” says Lewis. “We are reducing wasted ad spend with a 38% reduction in cost per ad while seeing better results such as a 43% increase in conversions. We will continue to re-invest those savings into further opportunities to create exceptional customer experiences.”

A winning formula for telecom

Virgin Media O2 has transformed its marketing with its new CDP. Rather than employees having to work across several platforms to set up audience personas, everything now takes place in a centralized location. This, along with integration across Google Cloud, Google Analytics, and Zeotap, accelerates the time from campaign idea to execution.

“When we launch a new product, we can quickly provide our marketing teams with rich, highly detailed customer insights,” says Lewis. “Instead of taking two weeks to produce a campaign, we now get these done in hours — all with an in-house team. At the same time we can see how campaigns perform in near real-time, so we can easily refine our approaches to maximize impact.”

“Like Virgin Media O2’s success showed us, there is huge potential for telecom companies to improve return on ad spend (ROAS) with a more modern CDP informed by use cases,” says Florian Lichtwald, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer at Zeotap. “By building a CDP on use cases, companies can reliably and cost effectively engage new and existing customers.”

Learn more about how partners like Zeotap are powering more advanced telecom performance as part of the Google Cloud Partner Advantage Program.

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