In-Flight Optimization Explained

When an imaginative product bursts onto the scene, a predictable cycle of reactions takes place. Take the Cronut, for example; when chef Dominique Ansel first released his croissant-donut hybrid pastry to the world, reactions oscillated from novel curiosity to sheer confusion to demand that bordered on mass hysteria.

Unlike the Cronut, we will try and avoid this fate for NCS’s newest tool for maximizing return on ad spend dollars, a product called In-Flight Optimization. Like the Cronut, In-Flight Optimization is a sweet new offering on the market and its benefits are clear and simple: In-Flight allows media professionals executing CPG campaigns to understand which taggable, executional campaign elements are performing best in terms of driving incremental buyers of the product – tasty information indeed.

To help you keep ahead of the hip new trends in media optimization, we’ve put together the most frequently asked questions regarding In-Flight Optimization, so there is no confusion with ineffective metrics like click through rate.

What is In-Flight Optimization and how will it benefit my campaign?

In-Flight allows publishers and agencies to maximize incremental offline sales conversions by continuously refining key executional campaign parameters while a campaign is still running. The solution identifies which ad creative, placement, frequency, audience, or any other campaign element is driving the most incremental sales so that you can optimize impressions each week. Leading advertisers have already seen over 15% increases in incremental sales on top of typical purchase habits after households were exposed to the optimized elements.

What executional campaign elements can be refined?

 That’s up to you – implementation is simple in that any taggable campaign element can be reported on in terms of its ability to drive incremental sales conversions. Clients have used In-Flight to understand which creative, segmentation strategy, context, ad format, or ad placement are performing best for their campaign, to name just a few. If you can tag it, we can include it in our In-Flight analysis. Up to 20 or 30 taggable elements may be reported on in a single campaign, even things like viewability.

What is meant by incremental sales conversions? How do you isolate conversions as ‘incremental’?

Matching buying HHs to our best-in-class CPG sales database, we are able to execute the In-Flight analysis thus:

  1. First, we ask the question: Did the household convert (to an incremental sale)?
    • If yes, which tactics were the household exposed to?
    • Then, we conduct an analysis of the household:
      • How many dollars did the household spend on this category in the last 52 weeks?
      • How many dollars did the household spend on this brand (down to the UPC level) in the last 52 weeks?
      • How many days has it been since the household last bought this product?
  2. Next, we review items like typical purchase cycle, demographics, and any other buying habits, such as retailer-specific behavior.
  3. After observing all of the above behaviors, we are able to isolate households who purchased (and which tactic they were exposed to) from households who were already going to convert without exposure to any tactic, ensuring that we’re reporting only incremental sales. We then can report back the incremental sales as the key indicator for the response to advertising, in addition to the total sales that occurred without the influence of advertising.

What is the timeline for delivering results?

Results are delivered weekly, beginning with the fourth or fifth week of a campaign, as it typically takes four weeks for enough sales data to be generated to understand which tactics are performing best. The weekly results are based on purchase data continuously sent directly to In-Flight Optimization from more than 10,000 stores.

For how long should a campaign run to take advantage of In-Flight Optimization?

Campaigns should run for at least eight weeks, which should give media planners sufficient opportunity to shift, at minimum, impressions for 40% of the campaign.

Is there a particular type of campaign that In-Flight works best for?

Apart from the eight-week flight minimum, In-Flight can work for any campaign with multiple taggable elements. However, the ability to shift impressions from one tactic to another is required to achieve the maximum benefit.

Since In-Flight ensures that campaign dollars are optimally deployed, it makes sense that any high-stakes campaign would leverage this technology. For example, if you’re using 80% of your media spend during one particular time of the year (i.e. the holidays, allergy season, etc.), it’s even more critical that every impression is working effectively during that campaign.

From where is the purchase data sourced?

In-Flight purchase data is sourced from our best-in-class, proprietary CPG data set.