PUSH has come to shove aside old media thinking

—This partner content brought to you by PUSH Media—

Inside a handsome four-story building on Toronto’s Yonge St., just steps away from the hustle, bustle and bright lights of Yonge-Dundas Square, PUSH Media Inc. is quietly but effectively refining a new approach to media and marketing.

PUSH moved into its space in the beautifully refurbished 1911 building, affectionally known among staffers as the “PUSH Clubhouse,” in July. It had stood vacant for several decades before being converted into an ultra-cool space combining modern design aesthetics with the brick and woodwork of the original building.

An ability to iterate and improve on what came before is an apt metaphor for PUSH, which has over the past five years transitioned from specializing in social media marketing for small businesses, to delivering performance marketing for a growing roster of national clients.

CEO Kyle Verge describes today’s incarnation of PUSH as a performance marketing consultancy that excels at building both measurable and scalable full-funnel performance marketing strategies, executing across both digital and traditional channels.

Several years ago, correctly predicting an increased emphasis and reliance on media accountability, PUSH began investing heavily in AI and machine-learning tech. These technologies enable it to better define and segment audiences—sometimes using as many as 300 variables—to create one-on-one conversations with consumers as they move through the purchase funnel.

“It’s about finding personas within your consumer base, building out a much more detailed path to purchase for them, and turning that out over different channels with different creative executions,” said Verge.

This approach enables PUSH to be highly granular—and therefore more cost-effective—in its media targeting, maximizing both brand exposure and budget. Internally it’s known as the “zero-waste philosophy.”

“The proof is in the pudding with what we do, because everything is performance related,” said Verge. “We can show clients actual sales, measurable success, and verified footfall within retail environments. It’s been kind of a cornerstone of how we approach the business.”

The adoption of those tools not only puts PUSH on an equal footing with larger agencies, but has allowed it to build compelling case studies leading to more business. “Having that technology really transformed the way that we run the business for sure,” said Verge. Today, its client roster features well-known companies from CPG, retail, government and non-profit.

And while their businesses may vary, PUSH’s clients share a willingness to experiment and innovate when it comes to marketing. “They’ve been willing to come out of the comfort zone of how they’ve been approaching creative and media and take a step in a different direction,” said Verge.

The approach has also been a strong catalyst for growth, with PUSH growing from a staff of six pre-pandemic to 27 two-and-a-half years later. It has achieved revenue growth of 166% over the past three-years, earning it a place on Report on Business’s annual list of “Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.”

PUSH has built its team around three core pillars: creative, client services and media operations. However, nearly two-thirds of the PUSH team is focused on media operations, which Verge said is critical to its continued success.

“The reason we’re unique and get the results that we do from a media perspective is because we have an amazing team on the media ops side,” he said. PUSH also employs specialists across the entire digital ecosystem, including search, social, programmatic, video, SEO, etc.

They also continue to expand their remit to include new and emerging platforms and tools. One of the recent focuses has been on the Metaverse, which Bloomberg recently said could become a US$800 billion market by 2024. PUSH is currently in the midst of creating a version of Yonge-Dundas Square within the Metaverse that will enable clients to see and interact with the work in a virtual setting.

“It really goes back to thinking about education,” said Verge. “It’s not so much about telling our clients ‘We need to execute this tomorrow.’ It’s about educating them and showing them how it works and giving them ideas to start thinking about.”

It’s an approach that positions PUSH well for the future, he added, particularly as marketers continue to embrace performance marketing in an era of tightening budgets and increased calls for accountability.

Many agencies (and their clients) are already scrambling to catch-up, but PUSH’s decision to put its focus on a media-driven approach has proven to be not only prescient, but a significant competitive advantage.

“Starting this journey five years ago now has enabled us to have an agency that’s already been doing this for a number of years, has all the capabilities in-house and has the track record of success to be able to activate those campaigns,” said Verge.