Labels and managers can use their marketing budgets for artists more efficiently by booking digital ads in-house, and making smart use of remarketing techniques.

That’s according to Darren Hemmings of digital marketing agency Motive Unknown. Hemmings was speaking at the FastForward conference in Amsterdam about how his company works for artists.

“Really this is about how advertising has changed. In the very old model, you’d have an an advertising person decide a budget, and they’d get an ad agency in who would take a commission on what you were doing: usually anywhere between 10% and 20%,” he said.

“The ads would run, and then reports would come back at the end of it: pretty brief. That’s how many people saw it, that’s how many clicks you got.”

Hemmings added that this had been superseded by a more recent model that still involved deciding a budget then hiring an ad agency, but saw the latter collecting the ‘remarketing’ data on fans who’d clicked through to a campaign.

“They’ll give you a daily report, and the ads will complete and then they’ll give you a roundup report at the end of it. But the difference is that the remarketing data is all being collected and then all being held by the ad agency,” he said.

“It’s good, it’s better than the previous one, but it’s still bordering on the slightly vague if we’re honest.”

Hemmings said Motive Unknown has been finding success through a third way: a ring-fenced budget for marketing, but with ads “booked in-house wherever possible”, including running smaller-spend ads that are A/B tested to see which work best.

“But then a greater focus is placed on remarketing and pushing for conversions. By booking in-house, you’re then not at the mercy of having to spend a minimum amount,” he said.

“If you go to an ad agency, often they’ll say ‘Well, we’ll book it if you give us £1,500’ or something. Which leads to people only using ad agencies when the album is out, and not actually for all the bits in the run-up to it, which are arguably where you build the audience, build the connections and really connect people in to the new release from your artist.”

Hemmings said the key point about this approach is that all the remarketing data collected from fans that click through belongs to the label or manager, rather than an ad agency – the latter leading to certain pitfalls.

“If that agency decides that they’re going to put their commission up from 10% to 20, you’re kinda screwed if you still want to access that remarketing data. This stuff doesn’t tend to be transferrable,” he said.

Most ad platforms won’t allow you to just say ‘Right, i’ll take the remarketing list I built with this ad agency and now I want to own it’. it doesn’t work like that. So there’s a huge bonus to managing this stuff in-house.”

Hemmings said Motive Unknown spends as little as £10 on some ads when A/B testing which ones work best with the desired audience for a campaign. It’s an approach that is serving client Run The Jewels well so far.

“All of this is about collecting remarketing data, so that when the band have a new merch line or they’ve got a new tour, the first people we’re targeting is the remarketing list, because they’re the first people that are going to spend money,” said Hemmings.

“They’re the people that have proven they’re showing most interest in the band.”

Hemmings praised services like LinkFire and for the way they help music companies collect useful data on fans that respond to their marketing campaigns, and said that the granular data available through platforms like Facebook can help too.

The amount of insight they hold on everyone almost makes advertising like audience research, in a strange way. You can run ads and get a feel for who out there is responding,” he said.

“You know that if you target this set of interests and everyone responds, and this [other] set of interests and nobody responds, these are the interests you want to be focusing on.”

“The use of remarketing is massively improving the way we can advertising, and it means you don’t do that spammy advertising that pisses people off.”

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