the7stars x Skyrise Partnership

Discover how transparency and innovation are at the heart of this close agency-data supplier relationship.

In a partnership that’s grown over the past two years, the UK’s largest independent media agency, the7stars, were pioneers in resolving the cookieless digital advertising challenge for their clients, one that many marketers still face today, by partnering with data specialist Skyrise.

In a recent conversation with the7stars Tech & Activation Lead Rhys Williams and his team shared how Skyrise data has led them to see their most successful results ever.

Rhys Williams, the7stars talks with Jonny Whitehead, Skyrise

Open and Transparent Partnership

Jonny: So Skyrise have been working with the7stars for about 18 months and from our perspective it’s been a brilliant partnership. A large part of that is down to the agency that you guys are from an independent standpoint and the way that you work with partners, how have you found it?

Rhys: One of the founding principles of the business is around transparency and that openness and that applies to every part of our business. That our partners we work with, our media partners, our data partners, our technology partners and also our teams as well, and I think it’s a fundamental with Skyrise that we have a dataset that is open.

From an agency side we sit behind a bit of a wall sometimes when it comes to data, the data sits within a platform whether it sits within a DSP or with an SSP sometimes and we don’t have that access to the datasets.

What blew us away with Skyrise was how open it was we can create our own audiences, almost matching first-party data and that’s just something we hadn’t seen before.

And then we can see what that data, what brings to life to consumers what they’re doing where they live, their interests, the technology they’re using, it’s all sort of brought to life in front of us and that was something really unique that we don’t normally get access to. 

“Skyrise blew the doors down”

Rhys: We’ve been very reliant as an industry and certainly as an agency, on cookies on dropping cookies and harvesting that data…

I think that we’ve probably known for a while now does that (cookies) really answer some of the client challenges that we’re trying to do? I would argue probably not.

Recently we’ve seen people blocking cookies, delete cookies, so it was getting harder and harder for us to access this type of data. 

Then we have to look at first party data with our clients and trying to access that first party data and that’s quite difficult to do. It’s difficult for them to surface that data and then to unlock it with the right kind of permissions around it. 

So it was Skyrise that blew the doors down and said well actually here’s the data it’s open, it’s transparent, it’s live and also we’ve put it in a platform where you can begin to interrogate it and you can manipulate it and upload your own audiences into it.

I think for us it (Skyrise) was genuinely a real game-changer, not just a game-changer, it’s going to become a necessity.

Jonny: As an industry a lot of the players have been guilty of sitting on their hands a little bit and waiting for someone else to solve the problem, whether that be Google or The Trade desk or any of the major technology players, so it’s great for us to see an agency like the7stars really forging their own path and coming up with their own solutions and we’re really happy to be a part of that.

Rhys: We’ve been so reliant on that cookie, businesses have been built up on it, agencies have those cookie-based solutions built into the teams, the technology, the ways of working, so it’s quite a lot for someone to unpick that and I guess that is where our nimbleness, our agility, we are an independent agency, we really can crack on and when we see these solutions come to market like Skyrise we really can jump on it and go ‘brilliant that’s something we can really use to drive value for our clients’ and it fits so well with our values. 

How do you use Skyrise?

Paddy: I’m Paddy and I head up the Programmatic team here at the7stars.

The power of Skyrise comes from the fact that it’s this cookieless solution that powers everything we do from a planning perspective all the way through to activation and case studies all the way out to New Biz. So I think it’s 20 million handsets, it’s a huge amount of data, if you think about BARB which is the industry standard for TV, that’s 5000 panels, suddenly you’ve got 20 million it becomes a much more robust proposition I would say.

In terms of how we use them (Skyrise) it’s all about plugging them into new business, so it really helps to superpower our approach and our strategy and giving us that insight ahead of the pitch and hit the ground running.

Esme: I’m Esme, I work as a Programmatic Director at the7stars working through planning all the way through to activation in the platform itself. 

So Skyrise have access to a lot of really strong data that we can use outside of the platforms. When we’re trying to reach really difficult audiences that we don’t have any off the shelf solutions within the platform itself, Skyrise helps us make sure we can access those audiences. 

It’s super simple to use, there’s no kind of massive barriers to using Skyrise, it’s very simple to use so they will send us postcode outputs that we inject straight into the platform and away we go, very simple indeed.


Gemma: I’m Gemma and I’m one of the Paid Social Specialists at the7stars.

I think with Skyrise it allows us to unlock audiences that we aren’t able to reach at the minute, so to really narrow and focus in on those audiences where potentially we might not have been able to reach them before for example for one of the travel clients with the campaign that they’re running at the moment we’re not able to reach them with just broad targeting because…

…we really need those postcodes to be able to to say in your specific area, at this specific time, this is the messaging that we need to send you and Skyrise allows us to do that…

…how easy it was to use, in my head I thought it was going to be really over-complicated, but it took less than five minutes, so super simple.

Rhys: …for us Skyrise really is that kind of game-changer and hopefully will set us up for a future that is privacy first and that is respectful of consumers and their requirements around how their data is used, but still give us as an agency and our clients, the ability to deliver targeted ads with the right product, with the right messaging, and in the right place.


“It gives us that competitive advantage”

Rhys: We get clients opening their eyes in almost surprise when we kind of show them we know more about your customer than you do.

Often their first party data is often buried within databases or like Suzuki for example, it sits with the dealership, they don’t even have a central record for that, so for us to be able to come along and show them, this is actually the people who are buying your cars and to show them those behaviours that exist around it, you sit there open-mouthed a little bit sometimes.

Paddy: Yeah absolutely, so we’ve been testing it across a range of clients, a range of formats, so one of our gambling clients…

…we ran some video campaigns with them powered by Skyrise so we saw a consideration uplift of 13% – doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s roughly around 4% is the average that we see so a 13% uplift is fantastic. 

On the other hand, so outside of video we’re running display and performance campaigns, we’ve just finished up a campaign which was performance driven and conversion driven…

22% reduction in CPA when comparing pre-Skyrise activity versus post so again that’s a huge amount to be getting efficiencies on your sales at quite a reasonable cost.

Often clients and brands are quite introspective I would say, so they think they know exactly who their audience are right?  What Skyrise allows us to do is go OK well look, we know the sorts of behaviours that we’re looking for, the criteria for which we’re measuring success, we know they use these sorts of apps or they go to these websites or they’re this age and this affluence based on their spending power. That then gives us the outputs and us the way in which we can target.

I think that’s really powerful because it means that while other agencies or competitors to us are also in that pitch stage let’s say, they might just be going straight in with ‘well we think it’s this’…

…we’re actually using data to power that decisioning from the word go so I think it gives us that competitive advantage just by virtue of us using that data to inform ourselves before we even start. 

Gemma: Clients absolutely love it, they love the detail they can get in the insights that we have.

It’s very visual as well we can get some really nice visual outputs for them to share within their businesses as well.


Working together on innovation

Jonny: One of the really encouraging things from our perspective is to see how the7stars have built on top of our dataset and done their own things with it.

For me that shows a huge amount of capability and eagerness within your business and talking specifically about your OOH use of our data; the linkages you’ve built with our data signals and what you use internally, it’s best in class usage.

Rhys: It goes right back to that openness and transparency, because it’s open and transparent and because your dataset is and we know where it comes from being able then to create those links, that one was with The Trade Desk, we’re able to work together to build a completely customised solution.

Across the business we probably work with somewhere in the region of 150-200 different partner suppliers but there are only 3 or 4 that have what we would describe as an Enterprise relationship and you’re one of those.

So I think that really does give you a good idea of how important we value not just what you guys bring but our relationship with you aswell. 

Paddy: So one of the things that I’m really quite proud of that has been a really great collaboration with Skyrise is an agency first and I think it’s an industry first, working in collaboration with The Trade Desk, so one of our partner DSPs for all the programmatic activity we run. 

We’ve worked with The Trade Desk engineers and data scientists, we’ve linked them with Skyrise and built this custom solution that’s bespoke to us, so nobody else in market has it, it’s completely unique to us as an agency whereby the Skyrise data is automatically ingested into The Trade Desk at which point we activate on the fly all of our campaigns and I think it doesn’t sound that jazzy and sound that amazing but actually what it’s doing is saving us and saving my team a load of time from an operational efficiency perspective.

It gives us that time back to focus on optimisation or innovation and all the other good stuff that clients expect from us.


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