Publicis Groupe Launches Tool To Help Midsize Businesses Weather The COVID-19 Crisis

Publicis Groupe released an outcomes-based solution on Thursday aimed at midsize companies (MSBs) that provides a money-back guarantee.

“If the desired KPI isn’t met, we’ll refund 100% of the client’s entire investment,” said Bryan Kennedy, CEO of Epsilon, which is powering the solution, called The Pact, for its new parent company.

There are around 200,000 MSBs in the United States, which is a fairly small fraction of total US businesses, but they account for more than one-third of employment, Kennedy said.

Generally defined as companies with somewhere between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenue, they’re too big to qualify for the stimulus money earmarked for small businesses, but they’re dealing with the same adverse economic conditions – and many are struggling.

One in four midsize businesses believe that the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be catastrophic for their business, said Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer at Publicis Groupe, citing research conducted by the National Center for the Middle Market.

Which is why MSBs need a safety net to grow despite the uncertainty “so they can feel comfortable that they’re getting the best performance for their media dollars,” Kennedy said, especially as states start to mull reopening their economies.

It’ll be a state-by-state and county-by-county affair, Kennedy said, and therefore highly variable, as will how consumers react as lockdowns are lifted.

“All of that data and knowledge is part of what our machine-learning platform can see and take action on for these midsize brands,” he said. “There aren’t enough hands on keyboards to take on all of that information in real time and use it to tailor campaigns.”

Publicis Groupe’s solution combines its media-buying capabilities with Epsilon’s identity resolution, AI models and proprietary data, including consumption data and transactional information, to optimize toward a business’ specific KPIs. Those could be sales, customer acquisition, return on ad spend, form fills, cost per acquisition, app downloads, curbside pickups, online orders or loan applications.

Epsilon has a history of working with midsize businesses, particularly in banking and retail, said Ric Elert, Epsilon’s president.

Midsize banks without a national footprint, for example, are struggling to expand beyond their regional markets, but they’ve got a really important product to sell right now, he said. They just need help with lead gen.

“These banks have got great loan rates and the ability to help save money on mortgages, but they’re not getting in front of people, because it’s mostly the national brands doing all the talking,” Elert said.

Publicis Groupe had been planning to commercialize the capabilities now housed under The Pact for enterprise businesses early this summer. But, like many other technology and data companies, it decided to accelerate its launch in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the crisis came about, we shifted gears and started to focus on the midsized segment,” Kennedy said. “We realized that we could help deliver performance at a time when people aren’t able to make investments they aren’t sure will generate a very clear return."

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