A conversation with Jason Hobbs of The Found Group

Published on February 28th, 2015

Want to learn more about remarketing? We did, so we sat down with Jason Hobbs, CEO of The Found Group. HAIM, The xx, Flying Lotus, St. Vincent and many others have tapped The Found Group to help them with their digital marketing. In this conversation, Jason shares his blueprint for achieving remarketing success and gives actionable recommendations for those of us just starting their own remarketing programs.

What led you to start a marketing agency focused on the music business?

I’ve been passionate about music since an early age. I went to my first concert when I was two years old (Hank Williams Jr) and continued going to concerts weekly when I was old enough to get to them on my own. When I was in high school I worked on street teams for Rob Zombie, NIN and Linkin Park back when they were Hybrid Theory, and started putting on shows in college. But most importantly, I saw a major opportunity.

My first exposure was looking at user experience for bands’ e-commerce systems. I saw we could increase merchandise sales by simply fixing the purchasing funnels. The first campaign I ran took about eight hours of effort from my side, maybe another eight from the web developer. In the first 45 days of the campaign, online sales tripled. By cleaning up some glaring errors through an SEO campaign, we increased fan traffic. Layout and content changes on the website doubled the time people were spending on the artist’s site. By fixing the purchase funnel, piece by piece, the conversions increased rapidly.

What’s the best campaign your team worked on, and what made it so special?

It’s difficult to pick here, because we’ve been fortunate enough to work on a wide variety of amazing campaigns and artists. I have to say that early on working with HAIM was one of the most special. It was one of our first actually and the management team, even to this day, is one of the most progressive in terms of making the effort to build a fan base, capture buzz over the years, and use all of that in actionable ways.

Not all the concepts are entirely new in other industries, but in the music space it’s can be tricky to convince people to spend time, energy, money, to build a sustainable artist career with real fans that will outlast a radio single – and to do it far enough in advance that the artist has a strong foundation to stand on no matter what. It was great being involved so early, and being able to do so much for them within the digital landscape. And it was great working on their first full length album campaign. As most of your readers know, it was a big success around the world.

Since then, there were a few others that we’ve loved being involved in. The xx on Beggars. Flying Lotus, and Boards of Canada on Warp. St. Vincent, and Marilyn Manson on Loma Vista. Loma Vista started off as a strong team before, but now represents the powerhouse of all three of those labels. The former GM of Warp that we worked with is the GM of Loma Vista. The former head of marketing at Beggars is the head of marketing/creative at Loma Vista. And it’s all headed up by Tom Whalley. It’s an ideal label, with an ideal team.

What does a campaign for you look like from start to finish? 

Flying Lotus wanted our help to increase sales of Until The Quiet Comes over sales of the previous album, Cosmogramma. While press would be supportive of the album release, the initial buzz generated from press prior to an album’s general on sale is fleeting, making one of the goals to be to capture that buzz while it was there, in order to remarket to it when the album was on sale.

In order to do this we had to drive and sustain fan engagement while acquiring new fans worldwide, so we developed a methodical approach of ushering consumers through the arch of the buying cycle. Through a tailored social media posting schedule distributing key assets, the campaign generated over 30x more traffic to the website and 8x higher engagement compared to posts with similar content.

We then segmented consumers into remarketing pools based on each engagement and timing. We could then deliver new content and messaging to the right fans at the right time. Through remarketing display ads we were pulling people back into the buying cycle and then ushering them through it. By the time of the album launch, we had hundreds of thousands of engaged fans in the various remarketing segments and were able to drive direct acquisitions through the segments that showed a propensity to buy.

The results: sales for Until The Quiet Comes were up by 50% compared to Cosmogramma and the album went on to sell 200,000+ units.

Can you give a quick overview of remarketing and how labels and artists should use it today? 

Remarketing, in this case, refers to the practice of utilizing an internet user’s behavior to show them targeted ads, with this behavior being tracked through cookies and data management platforms.

There are a lot of people running remarketing campaigns these days, but I feel like there should be some do’s and don’ts here. Many of them are simply running campaigns targeting the “catchall” remarketing segment. Basically targeting anybody and everybody that got a cookie on their computer from any source, respective to that band. That’s a big “don’t.”

What they should “do” here is refine their larger pool into smaller, qualified segments, based on engagements. Use simple logic rules to qualify those segments based on those engagements. Create new segments. Tailor messaging to those segments.

You can build a qualified segment of people showing a propensity to buy tickets, or a propensity to buy on a digital retailer versus stream. Build a streaming segment too. That will allow you to tailor your message directly.

Combine your remarketing segments with your own conversion tracking. This can be on a D2C e-commerce system the artist owns, white labels, or even a third party system. Third party systems take a bit of convincing, but they are all capable (with a little effort) of providing cross-domain analytics, and conversion pixel placements. This will allow you to get an understanding of which of your segments show a propensity to buy anything online, and specifically merchandise or music if you’re selling it through your D2C. You can create even more refined lists of people that actually buy, and run special offers targeting them.

You can then understand the conversion rates of your remarketing segments, and you can model your other campaigns based on these.

If a label is just starting out with remarketing, what’s the easiest way for them to get started?

First, you need to determine an advertising platform you’d like to use for remarketing, and second a platform that enables you to build remarketing segments from any digital touchpoint. I recommend found.ee for the latter of course. (Ed: The Found Group launched Found.ee after developing the tool in-house to help place remarketing pixels when sharing content on social media)

Get a found.ee account, start a Google AdWords MCC account (and create “subs” for each of your artists under that MCC), and a Facebook Business account (and advertising accounts for each artist under it), pull your remarketing pixels from those services and place them everywhere you can that’s relevant to the artist: found.ee, website, ecommerce system, ticketing system you’re using for presales.

Then start using found.ee whenever you post content.

What tools do you consistently use on your campaigns? 

Well, found.ee of course. But we also use Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Facebook Advertising. Analytics are the foundation for all good digital marketing. All of the most popular platforms we use in the music space provide us with analytics of some kind. It’s our job to connect the dots, interpret the data, and take decisive action based on that data.


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