Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Brian Pruitt is the senior director of brand media for the Arby’s Restaurant Group. He is tasked with developing an overall media strategy nationally, as well as locally for company and franchiser-owned restaurants.
Pruitt’s role is unique: He operates as a resource for locally owned franchisee partners through leveraging Arby’s national media equity and providing plenty of guidance along the way.
His latest hobby? Binge-reading on Twitter. Pruitt has admittedly succumbed to its neverending flow of news and information that he then dishes out to his teammates and partners. He enjoys staying on his toes by watching and learning from the movers and shakers in the digital media space, and at the same time, raising his young kids.
Pruitt and his team have been laser-focused on understanding all of the feasters watching TV and learning how to drive the Arby’s brand forward on all levels of multichannel marketing.
We were curious to learn more about Arby’s plans in the programmatic space, so we spent a Friday morning chatting with Pruitt:
Brian Pruitt: We recognize that traditional TV is experiencing rating declines, and we want reduce the mitigation of those ratings. TV is now being recorded and consumers are skipping commercials. How do we get around that? Programmatic TV is our answer. In our current year of 2015, our national campaign will include a layer of programmatic TV.
PA.O: Will your programmatic campaign be centered on a specific TV event?
Brian Pruitt: It’s not event-centric specifically in the way that we are using it. For us, programmatic is a way of intercepting our target dynamically and behaviorally. We are using programmatic for looking over psychological attributes beyond just age, sex and demographics. We are going to read all of these insights to learn how we stay a part of the conversation. Integral, traditional TV is still a part of our plan.
This year we are considering using programmatic linear cable TV networks. We are focusing on using national coverage to build brand equity around the country. Of our 34,000 restaurants, a little over 900 are company-owned. We do place media for our local marketers as well, and in the future, that also may be to some degree programmatic
PA.O: Are you utilizing any first-party data to facilitate your targeting?
Brian Pruitt: We are mining our own data and applying that to the campaign, but we are also leaning heavily on our national media partner, Initiative Media.
PA.O: In your opinion, how is programmatic advertising changing the world of marketing?
Brian Pruitt: Programmatic is bringing in a new era of TV measurement and accountability. It gives us a level of nimbleness where we can maintain our presence with our customers in peaks of viewership and attention.
PA.O: What questions do you ask yourself when trying to integrate your traditional and digital marketing?
Brian Pruitt: One question that is in the back of [my] mind, and probably my colleagues’ minds as well, is why do our consumers care about our products? How can we meet with them during that sentiment?
How can we find the way to celebrate life’s moments with consumers and not just slap a logo on something for the sake of including ourselves? How do we find a way to communicate with consumers, not at them?
With programmatic we can celebrate with you – whether watching a TV program, listening to music or enjoying an outdoor celebratory event. We want to make these moments more delightful. That is something we are passionate about.
PA.O: How does Arby’s tie programmatic TV messaging into its overall marketing initiatives?
Brian Pruitt: Something we are doing through programmatic is gathering lifestyle and life event attributes we mentioned – family, appreciation of music, outdoor events, etc., and using that information as an overlay for formulating our social media components.
We really try to make sure our message is fitting, so our nonprogrammatic message consumption involves heavy social media listening. We don’t make our social media plan a year in advance. We are always evaluating and asking, “Did this work?” It is a daily, hourly assessment of the KPIs. Are we driving engagement? Are people talking about our brand? If we’re not hitting our goals, we ask ourselves how we optimize.
We have a programmatic TV layer starting, and we will see conversations play out through the latter part of March and early April that might give us additional indications for our social media campaigns.
PA.O: How do you formulate your KPIs?
Brian Pruitt: Each media layer has a different objective; our objective on TV is to gain mass reach quickly. The programmatic TV layer is designed to do that as well, but we are mostly focused on engagement.
There are different KPIs in digital, depending on the goal. In general, our main KPI is less about CTR, but more about whether or not we had people looking at and/or talking about us and reaching out.
Our strategy is focused on finding how we can respond, recognize or retweet positive interactions one-on-one. How can we amplify the voice of our advocates? And if there is an experience that wasn’t as delightful as we wanted it to be, how do we find and respond to those moments?
We have a dedicated social listening team that helps us with this. Some of their process is learning from mass media and how consumers are responding to and resonating from it – not in a nationally promoted event, but on a hyper granular event level.
For example, a celebration for us is when an individual restaurant or one of our associates is called out, even if it is off-channel and internal. We want to take that moment, capture it and bring it to our marketing team to make sure that the store manager is aware. We want them to know when they and their teams have done a good job.
PA.O: Thank you for your time, Brian.