A+E Networks Deepens Its Precision + Performance Solution, Helping Advertisers Achieve Better Outcomes

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Data, data everywhere. When Erica Barnes, Director of Strategic Audience Sales and Partnerships at A+E Networks, attended an industry conference recently, there was a drumbeat heard throughout every presentation, every discussion: "Data is important."

While everyone understood the importance of data, many were grappling with some big questions -- the same questions that are being asked throughout the advertising industry at large. "Everyone is asking, 'What do we do with it? How do we action on it? How do we make sense of it?'" said Barnes.

A+E Networks is laser-focused on providing compelling answers that help advertisers drive their businesses forward. A key part of that is their Precision + Performance solution. Since it launched five years ago, Precision + Performance has broadened its scope, so that it provides deep insights about the entire customer journey -- and A+E Networks has accumulated evidence of how the solution's insights have helped client marketing strategies become more effective.

Before getting into that, here's an explanation of exactly what Precision + Performance is. The team operationalizes the optimization and measurement of an audience buy. Precision ensures that a campaign appears in the highest concentration programming with the highest concentration of the advertiser's desired audience. Performance proves out specific outcomes across a full-funnel customer journey.

"Performance is relative," said Barnes. For a startup with little existing brand awareness, increasing that awareness by 40% would be deemed a success and worth celebrating. Likewise for a well-known brand with brand awareness already at 90%, increasing that awareness by 1%, or at most 2% is hard. If it's achieved, it's a major success also worth celebrating.

Five years ago, conversations that compared different outcomes were hard to have, said Barnes. Today, thanks to advancements in measurement and attribution, advertisers have come to understand that their performance goals should be relative to their own benchmarks and past performance.

When Precision + Performance debuted, the team was hyper-fixated on attributing lower-funnel results like foot traffic or web conversions. Now, the solution takes the whole customer journey into account, showcasing the value of a full-funnel campaign -- from the top-funnel awareness to mid-funnel purchase intent to lower-funnel goals.

The team is so confident in the solution that they provide outcome guarantees across a myriad of conversion types, from foot traffic to viewability to EDO data. (EDO is a platform for measuring the search engagement impact of TV advertising -- across linear and streaming.) "It's about being nimble and flexible in order to reach the guarantee on the outcomes brands are looking for," Barnes explained.

While providers have always been able to talk about performance outcome in the digital space, not all are able to connect it to linear campaigns or a combination of the two. The evolution of A+E Networks' solution allows for that connection. With its Multi-Viewing Precision function, which applies targeting across digital solutions, it starts to paint a deeper picture. "Our research shows that there is an 80% unduplicated reach across digital, making it a must buy," Barnes noted. As a result, campaigns shouldn't be "just linear" or "just digital" but a combination of both in order to reach their desired outcomes.

"We pride ourselves on acting as consultants in the marketplace," she added. "We've had many successful campaigns, but it's not always about providing good results; it's about providing actionable results." One case study she shared highlighted a quick service restaurant (QSR) advertiser, which leveraged A+E Networks' PerforMAX multi-funnel attribution solution to perform an A/B test on messages. One highlighted a well-known product; another focused on a limited-edition product.

Interestingly, while the limited-edition product message drove high brand awareness, it drove little foot traffic. Alternatively, the well-known product had smaller lifts in brand awareness for the QSR chain but drove significant foot traffic.

For the advertiser, the results led to insightful conversations about messaging and goals. For A+E Networks, it was an example of the unbiased cross-platform attribution metrics supplied by working with partners like inMarket and iSpot. "We don't grade our own homework," said Barnes.

In this space, being nimble is important. In one campaign for a retail provider with a goal of driving foot traffic, A+E Networks realized that the data coming back was statistically insignificant. Instead of continuing in that direction, they encouraged a pivot mid-campaign to a different attribution provider, allowing them to provide relevant results.

With those kinds of deeper understandings, advertisers are in the driver's seat like never before. "In a place where there is a lot of data out there and a lot of providers, it's a great time to for a brand to be innovative," Barnes concluded.

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