Consumer healthcare companies were not the first movers in terms of adopting new digital technologies, Eric Gregoire, Bayer’s Global SVP of Strategic Marketing and Digital, admits. But over the last decade, consumers have started to become much more health-conscious (a trend accelerated by the pandemic), which has created new opportunities for healthcare brands as audiences start to demand more brand authenticity.
For Eric, who joined Bayer from Google three years ago, “I’ve always loved looking at transformations, and for me, it was an exciting opportunity to join Bayer at the beginning of their transformation journey.”
Joining Bayer, Eric was tasked with transforming and modernizing the company’s marketing ecosystem, as well as the broader process of digital transformation across the board. The goal was simple: “Become the best data-driven marketing organization in the industry.”
Bayer’s shift towards digital channels occurred rapidly. Investment into digital marketing jumped from a third to two thirds of overall media spend over the course of four years. This transformation of investment necessitated a deeper understanding of how efficient and impactful this increased spend on digital channels was.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the importance of the creative itself in delivering results on digital channels. The creative is responsible for 49% of sales lift, higher than reach, targeting, brands and recency combined. But at Bayer, “Creativity was probably the biggest challenge: How do you judge creativity?”
“Especially as you shift to digital, 20 years ago a brand marketer would have a few slots, a few prints, you could look at everything and see if it meets best practices. But over the last 5-10 years there has been a proliferation in formats and best practices.”
As Patricia Corsi, Bayer’s Chief Marketing, Digital and Innovation Officer describes it, “There is a little bit of science, and a little bit of magic in creativity.” Eric sees marketing similarly as a combination of art and science. There’s the art piece where the focus is on how to foster creativity and build for the best creative ideas. On this front, Bayer has seen huge success through an overhaul of their agency briefing process, and through their creative unleash platform.
But as Eric pointed out, “If it's a fantastic creative idea, not executed properly, it's a missed opportunity. The best practices become critical when you think about the execution. And this is more fundamental when you think about all of the different channels and rules. You want to make your media investment work as hard as possible.”
Most digital platforms have best practices. A set of lowest common denominators that map the digital suitability of your advertising. Adhering to these best practices not only improves the efficiency of your media spend, it also sets your ads up to be more effective.
But while marketers acknowledge that these best practices are important, and when asked would say that they follow them, how can you check that this is the case? This is especially challenging at scale, with thousands of marketers producing hundreds of thousands of assets. As Eric pointed out, “How do you apply these best practices when you have hundreds of thousands of creatives across different channels?”
The key was to move from “an opinion based to data-driven approach.” Bayer partnered with CreativeX to test the digital suitability of their creatives using the Creative Quality Score. At Bayer, “The Creative Quality Score helped us to understand where we were starting. When we started we were around 50%, so we saw there was a huge opportunity for improvement.”
For Eric, the value of quantifying the digital suitability of Bayer’s ads was obvious. To not track and improve their creative quality would mean the company was “leaving money on the table.” Having the data to prove this meant that getting stakeholders on board, including at the C-Suite level, became much easier.
Not only was Bayer able to shift spend away from digitally unsuitable ads, improving their Creative Quality Score also corresponded with an improvement in other key metrics. For every 10 ppt increase in CQS, Bayer saw a 2% fall in CPM, and a 107% increase in brand lift on YouTube.
“I would say it’s simple, it’s just applying best practices. The complexity is how do you do it at scale? But if you’re able to do it, it helps you build a brand, create better engagement with the consumer, reduce your media costs, and help grow your business.”
Now scaled to 60 markets and 70 brands, 80% of Bayer’s media investments are tracked against CQS, Bayer has exceeded the industry’s average by 21%.
Not only have CQS improvements resulted in increased effectiveness across key metrics, CQS has also provided a common language for Bayer’s creative and media teams, as well as agency partners, around the world. As Eric put it, “When you operate across global brands, how do you make sure that everyone has the same conversation? Data helps you to translate and speak the same language.”
For Eric, this is where the fun begins. “We want to keep on pushing it because we see the business value behind it.” Through working with CreativeX, Bayer has built up a dataset of 130,000+ creatives, “you have data at your fingertips to start thinking about how you can improve your creatives, and what can you learn from our creatives. Which was something we couldn’t previously do.”
Eric’s key takeaway?
“Now that we’ve passed through the journey and seen the benefits - it seems like a no-brainer.”
At Bayer, this process of digital creative transformation was never framed as the onboarding of an AI solution, the conversation focused on the business challenge that needed to be addressed: “Which was leaving money on the table. Data helped us to find the gap, and identify how we could address it.”
Interested to learn more about how CreativeX could help your company’s digital transformation? Get in touch here.