Exposing a competitor’s marketing spend and strategy through primary research

Our client, a regional media company, knew that it was losing share of spend to a competitor, in part due to the competitor’s recent advertising campaigns, but did not know how extensive these campaigns were or how the competitor was allocating budget across channels.

Aqute was tasked with answering three key questions:

  • What are the competitor’s current and planned marketing budgets?

  • How does the competitor allocate marketing spend by channel and what messages are they serving to each channel?

  • How is the competitor using its advertising campaigns to support its strategy?

Going straight to the source

The media company had already eliminated advertising tracking services as a possible source. Our client subscribed to various such trackers, and the competitor was not appearing in those databases.

To uncover significant insights, Aqute had to use original sources.

Aqute contacted employees across the competitor’s marketing departments, piecing together a granular analysis of how much budget was being allocated to which channels. These sources also enabled more qualitative conversations around the type of messaging targeted at each channel.

A more direct research stream involved mapping how the competitor’s messaging on its own social channels had evolved during the past two years, and whether that had had an impact on engagement with advertisers.

360-degree research

Having obtained information from the competitor and its media agencies, Aqute turned to the other side of the marketing funnel: the publishers with whom the competitor was placing its campaigns. Aqute contacted over twenty such publishers, extracting information about general pricing, typical budgets and in some cases the actual spend of the competitor, to help us build a model of the competitor’s spending.

Clawing back share of spend

The media company put Aqute’s findings into effect by revising where it placed its marketing spend. In particular, they defensively booked advertising on the channels where the competitor was having most impact, and also explored new marketing channels from which the competitor was absent.

Our research helped the media company choose its marketing channels more effectively, position against its competitor in a more targeted manner and stem the decline in share of spend.