If you want to succeed in online marketing, native advertising is a must. There are plenty of white papers and guides to native advertising, but how does it work in practice? In this interview, Marc Senges, Online Marketing Manager for Precon Services AG, shares insights into his company’s strategy and explains how plista can help increase direct sales, brand awareness and customer retention in the FMCG sector.

plista: Mr. Senges, what sector does your company operate in, and what does the Precon brand stand for?

Marc Senges: The Precon BCM diet is a formula diet and works on a three-meal principle – two meals with Precon BCM products, one normal meal. For this we offer high-quality shakes, bars and soups, and we strictly adhere to Section 14a of the [German] Dietary Regulation. We used to sell Precon BCM products out of Darmstadt and Zurich through doctors and nutritionists, but since then we have created a successful digital presence and we now sell most of our products through the Precon online shop in Germany. In order to offer our customers the best possible service, we not only offer meal substitutes, but also cookbooks as well as emails and white papers with motivational tips and advice on dieting in German.

plista: What are the marketing goals behind Precon’s online marketing activities?

Marc Senges: Being a reputable premium provider, our communications focus on the quality and great flavor of our products rather than luring customers in with discount promotions and sales. We regularly use testimonials from repeat customers, so potential new customers can share in the weight-loss success of other customers, which inspires them to try our diet. Our high-level goal is to increase our brand recognition. In terms of quality, we’re increasingly concentrating on better content rather than low-CPM media buying and unfilled space. Another important goal is to keep on increasing the repurchase rate of repeat customers – currently at a very good 50 percent plus. Fortunately, we have almost no returns to speak of.

plista: How did you decide that native advertising could help Precon reach its goals?

Marc Senges: Even though there is increasing discussion of problems in the industry, I feel like most people still prefer talking behind closed doors. I’m talking about things like the increasing banner blindness among users. While TV audiences are used to being interrupted by ad breaks, users on the net are increasingly focusing on content. Users no longer notice banners because there are too many of them; they distract from the relevant content and often the quality isn’t that compelling. So it’s hardly surprising that many users find them irritating in fact. So as advertisers we have to change our thinking, and so do publishers. Native advertising offers one way out of this dilemma. But it needs to be done with quality and caution. I don’t see it as THE miracle cure, but it has become an essential component in Precon’s online marketing mix, and it’s increasing all the time.

plista: Why did you choose plista?

Marc Senges: “Slightly different” integration of advertising materials is plista’s special area. Formats like RecommendationAds, as well as attention-grabbing advertising materials like plista’s FlyAds are a change from the usual IAB ad bundles. These are new formats and they’re all part of the rethinking process that is already underway. They’re higher quality and they’re embedded into their contexts differently. plista was first recommended to us by our online agency Publicis Pixelpark GmbH. With very good CTR, CPC, direct and assistant sales, plista has become one of the essential instruments in our quest to reach relevant users along the customer journey.

In this image you see a plista RecommendationAd and custom FlyAd

Unobtrusive RecommendationAd and custom FlyAd

plista: What campaigns has Precon run up until now, and how did they perform?

Marc Senges: Through plista, Precon has run successful performance campaigns with Native RecommendationAds as well as brand awareness campaigns with High Impact Ads. The powerful combination of custom FlyAds and unobtrusive RecommendationAds ensures a wide reach, strong brand impact and even increases direct sales. For direct sales through display ads, plista’s share is in the double-digit percentage range. In relation to other paid-traffic providers, plista performs in the top quarter. Since we started working together, we have optimized our contexts and advertising materials and managed to reduce our CPC by a full 50 percent.

plista: What do you see as the key issues for online marketing in 2016?

Marc Senges: The quality of advertising materials will be increasingly important. There will be greater focus on native advertising. And, no less important, banner blindness will mean that less is more. Anyone who wants to keep up with the trend can no longer avoid mobile and moving image content. With specific reference to plista, for Precon that means further improving the subject matter of plista campaigns, carrying out more A/B tests and incorporating moving image campaigns.

plista: Mr. Senges, thanks a lot for your time.

Author: Hannah Späth

You can find more information in German on the Precon BCM Diet at precon.de

Brief profile: Marc Senges
As Online Marketing Manager for Precon Services AG, Marc Senges is responsible for directing all online marketing measures. His previous roles included Consultant Media KPIs & Marketing Analytics for .companion strategy consulting as well as at MyParfuem GmbH, where he was responsible for measuring marketing performance.

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