Every agency relies on Google to a certain extent, but Silverlight Digital’s relationship with the tech behemoth — in the form of a Premier Partnership — is closer than most.

A recent example of its value came during work on a campaign for a gene therapy. “As soon as it launched on YouTube, it was shut down by YouTube’s legal team because the topic was ‘too controversial,’” recalls CEO Lori Goldberg. “Whaaat? We called our Google rep and they literally marched down the hall, talked to the right people and got the policy overturned. We were back up within a week.”

Silverlight has enjoyed the fruits of the partnership for five years now, with five dedicated Google associates at the agency’s immediate disposal and the option to host trade shows at Google’s offices. Given Silverlight’s focus on data and digital, it proved an especially good fit during a year when digital tactics reigned.

Silverlight Digital

Even in the wake of cutbacks by Silverlight’s retail and travel clients (which comprise some 15% of the agency’s business), the company saw revenue jump 22% during 2020, to $13.1 million from $10.7 million in 2019. “Suddenly, our clients weren’t putting budgets into having sales reps talk to doctors, because nobody was in the office,” Goldberg says. “So a lot of those dollars went toward non-personal promotion, which is where we come in.”

New assignments included work on Mallinckrodt’s Acthar, which treats rheumatoid arthritis, MS, lupus and more; Chiesi’s Fabry disease support programs; and EyePoint Pharmaceuticals’ Yutiq, which treats uveitis. The firm is especially proud of its work on RVL Pharmaceuticals’ Upneeq, the only FDA-approved eye drop for droopy eye.

“We’ve put all the pieces in place for a major launch in 2021,” says SVP, managing director Michael Ackerman. “We’re doing custom placements with Meredith and Hearst and a number of endemic placements. It’s a lot of touchpoints.”

Staff size rose from 26 full-timers at the start of 2020 to 29 at the end of it. Notable additions included media director Kelly Clarke (formerly of Health IQ) and senior media planner Rachel Flood (Remedy Health Media), while Ruth Nightengale was promoted into the new post of VP, client success. 

Silverlight added services as well, notably internet TV planning. “Instead of going out to the movies during the pandemic, people stayed home watching TV — and Netflix subs soared,” Goldberg explains. “Connected TV lets us take non-TV budgets and run video advertising in a TV way on platforms such as Netflix, Roku, Apple TV and Hulu.”

Adds Ackerman: “The real advantage is that it leverages digital, and what we do with digital is optimize. For example, if we’re running a video on our trading desk, we can see what’s performing best and turn up the volume.” 

Meanwhile, the company seems to have weathered the transition to virtual work with its spirit and sense of humor intact. “If a dog walks into a Zoom call, we’ll say ‘Hey, Fluffy!’” says Goldberg. “It’s not taboo to have kids yelling in the background. We’re a digital agency, so shame on us if we can’t make the digital work-from-home thing work.”

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The idea I wish I had…

A strong alternative to the cookie. Google recently landed on something it’s confident about, and is planning to eliminate cookies from its Chrome browser in the next year. That switch will affect our industry in a big way. — Lori Goldberg