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20 Years of TLA. Celebrating our key figures: Alban Treglohan

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you came to be at PHD.

I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years. My current role is leading the Volkswagen and Porsche accounts at PHD, where I joined as a senior manager back in 2017. I primarily look after planning and account management.

My previous role was with another agency looking after the BMW and Mini account, leading on performance activity.

Tell us about your history and experience of working with TLA.

I started working on automotive in my second year in media and TLA was one of the first partners I was exposed to. TLA wasn’t about treating people as numbers to make money. It was about genuinely trying to help consumers navigate what is a really complex marketplace and giving them the choice and ability to evaluate the right brand and the right car for them.

That passion for a consumer-led approach was something I’ve carried through everything that I’ve done since.

When you couple that with genuine business results and the ability to back up what you’re saying, they helped me look really good in front of my clients! I was able to deliver vast quantities of leads and prospects that their retail network could try and convert to sale.

TLA has never been about ticking a box. They request feedback on the data to understand the impact of what they deliver. And they’re the first to find a way of making it better.

You had an impactful role in the concept phase of our Quality Arrivals tool. What was the inspiration behind the solution?

This is a metric we devised for our clients a few years back and it’s based on consumer behaviour. Legacy metrics, such as test drive requests are still really important and are a key step in most consumers’ journey to buying a car. But it’s often one of the last steps they take and there are lots of other steps that are key signifiers of consideration or evaluation for a brand that happen first.

TLA was sat on a wealth of data that it was using to qualify interest before engaging with a prospect before they became a lead. Together, we recognised the potential for prospects to be engaged [by an OEM’s retail network] far earlier. 

If you optimise everything to the bottom of the funnel, you’ll drive a decent amount of cost-efficient leads into your business. But ultimately the aperture for that is gonna be much smaller. If you roll things back and have a phased approach, you can meet consumers at different stages of their purchase journey – which is so fragmented as there’s so much choice.

You’ve got more data signals that you can act upon as they pass through that journey and you should be keeping more people in your funnel, conquesting more people from funnels and driving more sales as a result.

The past few years have been unprecedented. What do you think have been the most significant challenges impacting customer acquisition?

Brexit, COVID and the war in Ukraine have all affected production lines, the cost of materials, access to parts and ultimately the supply of vehicles that are passing into markets.

The ability to sell cars has been the biggest challenge for any car brand. But within that, different brands have taken different approaches. Keeping a presence with consumers is really important for a brand’s success, especially when there’s so much choice.

But being responsible with the money that you’re spending is too. As an agency, we’ve had constant scrutiny of budgets. The real challenge has been knowing what the right thing to take away is.

That’s a really difficult challenge. TLA’s been a really good partner throughout this because they’ve understood the market and haven’t been under any illusion that it’s gonna be very challenging for them to make a case to keep driving leads into retailers when retailers haven’t got any cars to sell.

That’s why the proliferation of the type of support TLA can give brands with the example of quality arrivals is really important. Because this isn’t about necessarily selling a car right now. This is about engaging with a prospect when they might be passively evaluating. They might be three, four or five months away from the purchase. That’s one example of how TLA has taken on board the market factors and responded.

TLA are market experts within automotive and have more data, more specialism and more insight across the entire automotive industry than most can claim. They understand consumer behaviour. They know the challenges that the different brands are facing and can provide that council to agencies and brands as well.

We aren’t seeing as many of the glitzy and glamorous things getting through on media plans anymore. We’re getting a lot more scrutiny over every single number and being challenged to quantify the business impact of what we do.

The second big thing impacting the industry has been real growth in the uptake of electric vehicles. Understanding the differences between how consumers research and navigate the path to purchase for EVs compared to traditional vehicles is important.

There’s going to be an even bigger explosion in the product ranges that brands offer within the EV space. For the majority, it’s their big bet for the future.

The simplicity of the platforms EV are built on means they’re more like pieces of tech than they are traditional cars. It’s a different type of product. They might not require the same level of after-care because there are fewer things that can go wrong with them so long as the computer and software work. So brands may see loyalty as the most important way of driving success. Finding ways to keep them engaged will be a big focus for many.

The final challenge would be the switch to direct-to-consumer. The traditional OEM model is changing and major brands are switching to this agency model. The way they operate might take five years to demonstrably change but the way they’re thinking has already shifted.

They might only have a 5% of their overall sales mix coming from direct-to-consumer next year. But 90% of their thinking is going behind direct-to-consumer. That’s because marketing departments have never had sales targets on their heads, and now they do. So they’re making moves to protect themselves and ensure they have the tools at their disposal to achieve their performance targets.

The ability to forecast, measure, and ultimately sell cars is what we as agencies are going to get tasked with doing and we’re going to be asking the same of our partners.

20 Years of TLA. Celebrating our key-figures: Callum Dudley

"TLA are one of the biggest players in the Auto Lead Gen space, which makes them a key partner for any auto data acquisition campaign. As a result, we work closely with them across all manufacturers within our remit"

Tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do?

I have been with Mindshare & Neo now for just over 10 years and over that time I have grown to focus more upon the Data Acquisition side of media. I continue to look over a number of more traditional affiliate based clients, but my main area of focus & expertise is in Data Acquisition, or Prospect Generation, which is commonly referred to as Lead Generation. Automotive is an area of personal interest and passion, I’ve been lucky enough to work across & look over a number of OEMs during my time at the agency. This has been a mix of both internal clients, and consulting on others within GroupM.

My primary focus is first and foremost, quality of data, not volume. Capturing the consumer within the natural research stage of their next vehicle purchase, and capturing the approach level of intent, as indicated by the customer, for our clients to subsequently nurture into opportunities and sales. TLA have been a key partner I have worked with during this time, across all clients.

How do you work with TLA?

We utilise TLA as one of our key customer enquiry partners, working with the team to capture customer enquiries at all levels in the purchase funnel. A ‘one size, fits all’ simply does not work, especially with a purchase as expensive as a new vehicle, so assisting the customer at their present stage of interest is crucial to nurture them into a sale. With TLA’s call verified data, we can capture in-market users with additional data fields that go above and beyond our clients mandatory data points, providing extra value and insight to each customers’ enquiry.

TLA are one of the key partners who can drive quality enquiries at scale, leading to us working closely with them over the years, to help improve and develop their offering to fit our clients’ needs, as well as our vision for how auto prospect generation should be delivered.

What effect has the pandemic had on the way you work, and work together?

Ultimately, when brands haven’t got much remaining stock, and are uncertain on when production will be back in full operation, we have to be mindful of the customer experience and the OEM’s ability to deliver the product within a time-scale that the customer will be happy with. In addition to this, media budgets were being reduced dramatically, and regularly, in line with availability and ability to facilitate enquiries.

Really, it came down to being sensible & adjusting strategy to fit with stock levels, and adjusting the avenues we can put customer enquiries down. Fundamentally, we’re measured on sales, so there is little point in us spending media budget on model lines where stock is limited, or unavailable. This not only will increase our CPS, but is an inefficient use of the available budget. We need to be mindful of the post data capture experience, and likelihood for a successful outcome, again coming back to data quality.

TLA have been able to help us with this ever changing approach and optimisations, in what was a very interesting time for the industry.

How has the market changed?

Clients always wanted volume and some still do, however we are starting to change clients’ views & challenge targets based on what is, firstly, realistic, what is achievable, and what is going to deliver customer enquiries with real intent. Not chasing lead volume for the sake of hitting a target KPI – based on volume. Volume is an easy thing to deliver and enquiry volume can be incentivised to do so, but that won’t generate a good pool of quality intent. Deriving leads of high quality, that are going to convert to sale – that’s a completely different story, and takes a lot of work to derive & subsequently nurture in right manner and with the right approach.

Another big thing that is changing is the importance of data validation. With it, not only, being real, genuine data, but providing evidence of the user journey that the consumer has come through, engaged with and where they provided their data, such as through on-site forms, social platforms, and so on. This extra security and transparency can show the real level of intent.

To capture and provide those additional data points so subsequent nurture can be improved, or tailored accordingly, is what really offers value to OEM’s. Capturing those customer specific data points is extremely useful for the dealer to utilise and factor in with their nurture, or follow up approach, leading to a better customer experience and, in theory, a higher propensity to purchase a vehicle. The days of capturing the mandatory bare bones data fields should be well past us, if we’re really trying to deliver quality data that we believe has a good chance of converting.

Clients are willing to pay higher rates for data consisting of full transparency and greater insight.

Media industry completes the 2022 London to Brighton Sea Change cycle challenge

Riders from some of the UK’s biggest media agencies and publishers joined forces on Friday 20th May for an epic, 63-mile cycling adventure in aid of NABS and Under One Sky.

With over 300 coffees consumed, 7,500 miles ridden, 70 pizzas consumed and many sore bodies 2022 will long stay in our memories!

The oversubscribed event, now in its 4th year saw teams and individuals from PHD Media, Active International UK, Mail Metro Media, Haymarket Media Group, Performics, Publicis Groupe, Canopy Media, Autovia, Teamspirit, IPA, RTL AdConnect, Anything is Possible, Contact State, Craft Media London, the tree, Vyde and Under One Sky enjoy a brilliant day of cycling from London’s Marble Arch to Brighton’s Marine Parade, where they reunited for a memorable after-party and celebration.

When we set up the event in 2019, we were clear that the event had to:

  • Raise money for causes and charities we believe in.
  • Promote physical and mental health in the industry we work in.
  • Create an event for our industry to get to know one another and network outside of the usual events.
  • Promote TLA for the values we represent.

On Friday, we believed we achieved all of the above and had so much fun doing it. It was a fantastic day for everyone involved but we couldn’t have done it without the backing of the NABS team for promoting and supporting the event; Under One Sky who promoted and took on the challenge; European Cycling Tours for ensuring a safe and fun passage for every rider into Brighton; Autovia for sponsoring the after-party; BEDEO for sponsoring the great looking medals; and the media industry for taking part and raising the money that makes all the difference!

London to Brighton Sea Change for Mental Health was organised and funded by TLA as part of a series of events for 2022 that aims to raise over £60,000 for its chosen charities. On behalf of everyone at TLA, thank you for making it a memorable day and experience.

Next year is our fifth anniversary, so we are determined to make it the biggest and best yet so rally the troops, save the date and enter a team – Friday 19th May 2023!

20 Years of TLA. Celebrating our key-figures: Tom Nicolle

20 years of BMW - Tom Nicolle

Tell us a little bit about yourself to kick off and the work that you do at BMW. 

I’m the CRM Manager for BMW within the national marketing communications team. The CRM team look after the BMW customer journey across all channels and over the various stages in the life cycle, from acquisition and purchase of a new car, right the way through ownership to repurchase. As part of that, acquiring new customers, new prospects and new leads for the brand is key. 

Tell us about your relationship with TLA?  

Well, we’ve always worked with the lead agency since I’ve been in post. 

We’ve had a close, direct working relationship with TLA, and that’s been beneficial throughout. We really enjoy working with the teams and I think it’s good to have that direct relationship as well. So, while we do work through a media agency, there is a strong relationship directly. 

What are the type of things that you work on directly with the team at TLA? 

It’s really evolved over the years – when I first joined, we solely focused on lead generation but as the business has changed, we’ve become more focused on customers and looking at new ways to access different audiences.

As part of this evolution, TLA have been instrumental in helping us to focus on all areas of the traditional sales funnel, particularly during the peaks of the pandemic and other economic and market challenges where we had to pivot and adapt our approach. TLA’s focus on innovation has helped us achieve a healthier and more sustainable sales funnel during uncertain periods in a channel that has perhaps not traditionally been regarded as such by our business.

And then more recently, there’s been the digital lead qualification product that we’ve been using, which has been performing well, as well as numerous pilots.  

We are working on a number of pilots with TLA to enable us to explore how we can push our approach further forwards. TLA’s technology and expertise is proving invaluable in helping us on this journey. 

When we decided to work more closely with TLA one of the standout qualities has been their willingness to push the boundaries.  As a brand, we are focused on innovation, and the UK market is widely held as a leader in this regard. In a space that has arguably been viewed as traditional until recent years, TLA are changing perceptions within the BMW business through pushing boundaries and trying new things. TLA moves with our aspirations to continually innovate, test, use new technologies, and improve wherever we can. 

How do you see the market changing over the next couple of years?

In a broad sense, electric mobility is obviously a key one. And as an industry, it is a big change for an industry that’s been very settled for a long time, with little drastic change over the years. So, the change in fuel type and the change in customer behaviours around that is big. 

Now there’s a big job to convince prospective customers that electric motoring is the right way to go, and even hybrid electric motoring. I think that’s a big challenge, a big opportunity, but a big challenge, because there’s lots of barriers that come with electric mobility, a lot of myths that need to be dispelled, and the audience educated. It’s not just about building emotion anymore; it’s about educating as well. So, that’s a big challenge. 

Supply challenges caused by the semi-conductor shortage, as well as the lasting effects of the pandemic are clearly a challenge for us also that we need to overcome.  

I think some of the work we are doing to expand our focus to build and capture demand further up the funnel and further along in the customer journey is key to us being successful.  

In summary, pivoting our activity to be more customer-centric – not just push people to test drive cars or to go into their retailer – driving engagement with our digital assets, with our website, with our app. Also, online sales is part of that. That’s something that we have introduced, as other manufacturers have also, and perhaps it’s a big challenge for the automotive industry, but a big opportunity. 

What has been the effect of the past couple of years for BMW? 

Put simply, the last couple of years has taught us that offering customers a choice is extremely important. I think the customers are more in tune with experiencing things digitally and remotely now and in addition to this, the once-linear, traditional sales journey is no more. So, offering customers the choice of how to experience our products, how to learn about them and research them, on their terms is a challenge. We need to continue to meet these needs, as people’s media consumption and purchase habits change. Every customer is different.

TLA is here to help us with that challenge and we’re really looking forward to pushing things forward in the coming year and beyond and offering our customers new ways to engage with our brand and learn about us.

Tom works within the national marketing communications team, looking after the BMW customer journey across the various stages in the life cycle, from acquisition and purchase of a new car, right through to ownership and on to repurchase.