Home Advertiser Brand Lift Matters, Even For PepsiCo

Brand Lift Matters, Even For PepsiCo


You might think boosting brand awareness wouldn’t be a major concern for PespiCo, one of the largest food and beverage brands in the world.

But you’d be wrong.

Brand awareness is top of mind for PepsiCo’s senior director of media strategy and investment Katie Haniffy. And PepsiCo is focused on adjusting its brand awareness campaigns in response to shifting consumer behavior, as well as pivoting to keep up with the latest evolutions in ad tech.

“We’ve been on a journey for the last couple of years to make sure that, as consumer behavior has gotten more digital and linear TV has decreased in several ratings, we’re continuing to connect with our consumers,” she said. “So our strategy has been including more digital than ever.”

Because PespiCo’s priorities have shifted more toward reaching consumers on streaming services and video-heavy social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, video remains an important vehicle for the company’s brand awareness campaigns.

“Video is a big part of what we do in the digital space and on social,” Haniffy said. “While we have teams that drive lower-funnel ecommerce business, I focus on brand building and consumer relevancy, which usually comes in video format. So we’re very video heavy in our digital strategy.”

Open-web programmatic and direct

Self-service DSPs play a major role in PepsiCo’s open-web programmatic strategy for social media and other platforms. For years, the company has relied on its agency partner OMD to manage campaigns through self-service ad platforms. And PepsiCo’s YouTube advertising is largely conducted through Google’s Display & Video 360 campaign management platform.

But direct ad buys and programmatic direct are also a major component of PepsiCo’s strategy. For direct deals, PepsiCo works with holding companies that have access to a range of publisher inventory, and the company has pursued direct publisher partnerships with big names like Spotify, Billboard, Complex, Pop Sugar and BuzzFeed. Direct partnerships are also key to PepsiCo’s marketing efforts in the gaming channel.

“When we do direct partnerships, we want to make sure they’re more robust or 360,” Haniffy said. “For example, we’ve done stuff with Spotify or Billboard that’s really embedded in music culture and has a live event activation and a streaming component.”

Balancing linear TV and other channels


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Although consumers have shifted away from linear TV, PepsiCo wants to have a presence on all platforms. Therefore, linear TV is still a valuable part of PepsiCo’s overall media mix, even as channels like CTV, social and video games become more important for reaching consumers.

“Pepsi has been known for its partnership with the NFL, and we want to make sure we’re part of cultural moments like live sporting events,” Haniffy said. “But we also want to be on streaming devices. It’s a balancing act to make sure we’re not over investing in one or the other.”

However, while some advertisers have reduced their spending on linear TV amid changes to consumer behavior and fears of an impending recession, PepsiCo is keeping its spending plans close to the vest.

“Right now, we’re not ready to comment on our advertising and marketing investment for the future,” she said when asked if PepsiCo is considering pulling back on its TV ad spend. “But, yes, everyone in the company is trying to understand consumer behavior and pricing commodities cost to make sure we can balance our spending and still be successful moving forward. But we’re not there yet in saying whether or not [the recession] would impact our spending.”

Measurement and data

Data is king in digital marketing, and PepsiCo is reinventing itself to become more data-focused in its media planning and measurement.

“We’re going to be using more data to inform our linear strategy,” Haniffy said. “We are becoming more audience-first, almost behaving like a digital company. Self-service, real-time data and being able to optimize our buys across platforms are things we are just starting the journey on.”

In terms of measurement, PepsiCo keeps an eye on brand lift, brand association and even brand love, which looks at how brands build emotional attachments with customers. The company works with a variety of measurement partners, including Nielsen, Oracle Moat, Catalina and ComScore. It has also worked with attention measurement company Eyespot and CTV measurement company Samba TV.

“It depends who the publisher or the platform has a relationship with, but we work with pretty much all of them,” she said. “We’re trying to take a pulse on everybody’s offering, so we can figure out the best way to do measurement. Ultimately, the source of truth for us is our in-house mix modeling tool, the ROI Engine, that brings it all together.”

Currency and cookie alternatives

When it comes to the alternative currency wars raging in the CTV and linear TV markets, PepsiCo is agnostic.

“We’re going to test and learn across the board,” Haniffy said. “At the end of the day, if our campaigns are driving business and we can measure ROI, I’m not sure it really matters what the currency is, as long as I can show proof of performance.”

And despite Google kicking the can on third-party cookie deprecation, PepsiCo is still all in on building out its first-party data capabilities.

“We’ve been preparing for [third-party cookie deprecation] by acquiring first-party data and activating against it, and we’re going to do that regardless of what Google does,” she said. “So the delay gives us a little bit more time, and that’s great. But we need to be able to own our own data and use it so we can make smarter decisions and buys across the board, and not be so reliant on other companies. For us, the priority is to own our own data versus buying it from sellers.”

However, because PepsiCo is a consumer-packaged goods company and not a direct-to-consumer (DTC) company, it is still in the early stages of building out its first-party data operations.

“Most packaged-goods companies are probably in the same boat we are, where we don’t own consumer data because we don’t own the purchase of the product,” Haniffy said. “We have internal capabilities where we combine third-, first- and second-party data, and we have been using a combination of third-party and first-party data to inform our media buying. But we are making a bigger push to acquire more first-party data through DTC strategies like consumer sweepstakes.”

PepsiCo is also developing a unified customer relationship management (CRM) strategy that will encompass all of its brands and allow cross-promotion, rather than each brand having its own siloed approach to CRM.

And PepsiCo is also working with customer acquisition and retention platforms like Fetch Rewards, which offers gift cards and cash back in exchange for purchase receipts, to gather more behavioral and demographic data on its customers.

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