Contently Case Story: How The Trade Desk Used Infographics to Transform Its Marketing ProgramBy Erin Nelson April 15th, 2016
Contently Case Stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients.
According to Visually, the first infographics date back to 30,000 BCE, when images were drawn on cave walls to communicate information about populations, animals, and resources. Thousands of years later, the Egyptians used hieroglyphics to tell stories about life, work, and religion. Fast forward to 1857, when the English nurse Florence Nightingale used diagrams to convince Queen Victoria to improve the conditions in military hospitals.
Today, digital infographics essentially serve the same purpose: to influence perception and behavior by helping an audience visualize complicated data. Yet with a deluge of visual content hitting the Internet every day, even the best infographics can get lost. In 2016, brands have to develop a process that ensures infographics get maximum visibility.
One company successfully embracing this tactic is ad-tech firm The Trade Desk, which has wisely invested in visual content to generate attention and drive brand awareness. Under the leadership of senior marketing manager Kat Vesce, the company has restructured its marketing and PR strategy around the use of infographics. To initiate this visual content strategy, Vesce’s first move was to find a top designer.
After exploring Contently’s network of 60,000 freelancers, it didn’t take long for The Trade Desk to find the right contributor. “We only work with one graphic designer who has done incredible work for us,” Vesce said.
That individual is Niege Borges, a Brazilian-born graphic designer and illustrator who operates out of Brooklyn. In the bio on her Contently portfolio, Borges even describes herself as an “enthusiast of infographics.”
“Since we found [Borges], we decided not to look for art elsewhere,” Vesce said. “She hits even the craziest of deadlines and has been a huge asset for us.”
Accessing reliable talent solved three problems for The Trade Desk: quality, budget, and cadence. With a professional designer, Vesce’s team didn’t have to worry about learning new software or hiring a full-time employee. And once The Trade Desk got into a flow, it was easy to consistently commission and publish new infographics.
“We realized that our proprietary data was an untapped marketing asset,” Vesce explained. “They were making maybe three or four infographics per year, so when I came on board, we made it a goal to do twelve.”
While companies often fret about including freelance talent into an established workflow, the process has been seamless for Vesce’s team. Vesce meets with the analytics department to hone in on interesting data and brainstorm storylines before assigning the project to Borges, who takes ownership from there.
Working with a freelancer has also made it easy for her team to focus on other marketing duties, such as lead generation and nurturing. “With the help of Contently, we’ve been able to get infographics off of our plates and onto someone else who can take over project management,” Vesce said. “That shift in execution frees us up to do so much more.”
The strategy has led to a great deal of media buzz. For example, during the 2015-16 NFL playoffs, an infographic about the buying habits of the fans from the remaining eight teams was picked up by a variety of outlets like Adweek, Forbes, and The Drum.
Eye-tracking studies from the Nielsen Norman Group show that images carrying information trigger online readers to pay close attention, suggesting audiences will retain more from infographics than typical articles. And according to the marketing automation company Wishpond, brands that publish infographics get 12 percent more traffic than businesses that do not.
As The Trade Desk continues its infographic push—be on the lookout for a motherlode of visual data for an upcoming Mother’s Day project—Vesce is always thinking of ways to impact the entire organization.
“Infographics tend to live on long beyond the initial launch,” she said. “When our CEO, Jeff Green, participated in an interview for an article on CNBC, he used some of the data from our political infographic research to exemplify his thoughts.”
Developing a regular publishing cadence through Contently’s technology and freelance network has allowed Vesce to serve as her own sort of ad-tech Florence Nightingale. Thanks to the earned media coverage, The Trade Desk has easily hit its brand exposure KPIs.
“Infographics allow us to tell a visual story with our data,” she said. “Our goal in using data to illustrate a tangible example is to empower advertisers to understand the level of precision and accuracy that is possible for their campaign.”