Jun 12, 2023
SNCF Connect is a subsidiary of SNCF, the national railway company of France, providing millions of passengers transportation services both domestically and internationally. SNCF Connect allows users to book train tickets and plan their routes. The company has chosen to internalize its media buying operations to gain flexibility and efficiency, by having greater control of its campaigns. To do this, the company had to deploy the experienced workforce necessary for such a strategic pivot. We spoke with Maxime Bulois, Programmatic Media Strategist at SNCF Connect & Tech, to discuss it and understand how Adloox supports their daily ad ops.
1. SNCF Connect & Tech, as an advertiser, manages its own ad ops. Can you tell us more about your management, your objectives, etc?
Indeed, our media buying operations were internalized more than 5 years ago now and this on all digital levers (SEA, Affiliation, Comparators, Partnerships, Paid Social and Display). The objective was to bring media ops closer to content creation (also internalized) so that there was better synergy and interdependence, in a context where we had to be more and more flexible and agile.
As a pure player, online advertising operations are central to activation, but traditional offline channels have become a growing interest in recent months and will be even more so in the years to come.
2. As a Programmatic Media Strategist, can you tell us about your main current goals and the challenges you face?
Our goals have evolved in recent years, along with the travel industry. After the Covid19 pandemic, it was necessary to give consumers the desire to travel again and to have confidence in the train. Added to this challenge is our name change in 2022, which took place in a booming competitive sector with the emergence of new competitors.
While historically programmatic buying was focused on sales objectives, based on anticipated commercial offers and highlights, mainly with our customers, we had to evolve our objectives towards KPIs of notoriety and consideration, on an audience of prospects. Mastering our distribution framework and the visibility of our advertising content has become all the more crucial.
Finally, programmatic is experiencing a real expansion beyond digital, with new offers on more traditional channels, which offers us unprecedented opportunities to introduce our audiences to the range of SNCF Connect offers, beyond sale of train tickets.
Currently, our objective is therefore to make our notoriety and performance campaigns cohabit, with as a starting point for our strategy, our consumers, of today and tomorrow, and this, no longer lever by lever, but inter- levers.
3. What vision do you have of the programmatic industry and its current challenges? What do you think are the most important topics in 2023?
I hope that programmatic advertising will be more and more creative. The approach was clearly initiated by using it at the top of the funnel, but this may have neglected the creativity on the bottom of the funnel. I can't wait to see the performance devices shine again.
I also think that the new programmatic media (segmented TV, DOOH, etc.) will not only change their mode of purchase but also their content. I'm not talking about personalized content, because the whole programmatic universe is becoming more and more restrictive in terms of the use of personal data (GDPR and Cookieless are only the beginnings), but about more integrated and interactive content.
Finally, it is the entire measurement part and the incrementality of the Display that can be audited, instead of being limited to indicative econometric models, which did not take into account all the inventories. Knowledge of the impact of Display on each activation will significantly modify the allocated investments, to maximize devices with high attention rates. Attention will supplant CPA.
4. What do you think are the main benefits of having in-house programmatic marketing for a company like SNCF Connect?
It may seem obvious, but being as close as possible to the issues of the advertiser and understanding them, discussing their needs and ambitions on a daily basis, seems to me to be a real strength in knowing how to intelligently direct media spending. The advantages are numerous: instilling a real culture of AB Testing and therefore of continuous optimization, and step by step, fostering collaboration between teams.
By integrating media thinking at the creative design stage, we can build more integrated and adapted strategies according to each lever.
Creative leadership is then instilled in each team and becomes part of the culture of our company.
5. You use Adloox for advertising verification and measurement, can you tell us about your experience with our tool?
We have been optimizing our campaigns for several years using Adloox features. It was important for us to be accompanied on optimization, to save time and be proactive, but also to stay in touch with external practices. Finally, we were obviously looking to be audited by a third-party tool that is not “judge and party”.
Beyond operating a verification and advertising measurement tool, we wanted to be advised. This approach was proactive from Adloox, which immediately gave us confidence and made the platform a partner of choice.