How KERV Interactive’s Digital Ad Tech Pushed Callaway Golf to a New Engagement Frontier

From Basic Video to a Club Event

The following article was written by Zach Brooke and published on American Marketing Association’s website.


The U.S. Golf Association permits players to carry as many as 14 clubs in their bags, and for manufacturers vying to make the cut for America’s 25 million golfers, the competition is intense. Billion-dollar enterprise Callaway Golf has long ranked among the victors, due in no small part to its touted signature craftsmanship. Last fall, Callaway added to its top-of-the-line offerings by rolling out the JAWS MD5 wedge.

All of Callaway’s routine channels were activated to promote this latest endeavor. A press release sent in September trumpeted “the most aggressive grooves in golf for maximum spin and control.” The big-box sporting retailers blasted shoppers with marketing emails that boasted inclusion of the JAWS MD5 in their new stock. But when it was time for Callaway to develop its own digital campaign, the strategy doglegged from the usual.

“We’re always looking for ways to present our content in new and engaging ways,” says Tyler Shean, a Callaway marketing specialist. “With the way golfers are consuming golf content in today’s media landscape, it’s no longer enough to rely on static digital media.”

Callaway linked up with a small, Austin-based company called KERV Interactive to develop web videos that allowed viewers to customize their own ad experience. The strategy already had a successful track record promoting similar high-end brands.

“We find our tech does really well in the luxury category,” says KERV COO Marika Roque. “Luxury items have a longer sales cycle, and users are more interested in understanding their attributes than something that they’ll just buy on a whim.”

Beyond that, a new school of digital ad artists believe interactive videos hold the key to standing out within the sea of sameness.

“The question I would ask brands is, ‘Do you want audiences engaging with your content?’” asks Andrew Klein, director of content innovation at Spark Foundry, where he advised KERV. “Do you want them to buy your product, learn more, watch more, listen or play? Interactive ads open the door to all these possibilities. I would also ask brands if their static rich media banner units are moving the needle on their KPIs. If not, consider putting your ads on steroids.”

Callaway enlisted KERV to develop an interactive campaign focusing on brand awareness as the primary KPI and with product consideration as a secondary goal.


“With the JAWS MD5 wedge campaign, we had a number of stories to tell in a limited amount of time,” Shean says. “In addition to communicating the performance benefits and variety of options in the JAWS MD5 wedge line, we were also excited to celebrate the career and accomplishments of Callaway’s legendary wedge designer, Roger Cleveland.”

One version of the final ad opens with Cleveland deep in the JAWS MD5 creation process in a state-of-the-art lab. Seconds later, a graphic appears center screen that invites viewers to explore the ad, followed immediately by a menu icon arriving on the right border. Clicking the icon brings up a toolbar with a still of the video’s opening scene. As the video continues to play, a second still lines up beneath the first at the seven-second mark. The rest of the 30-second ad plays as a standard video. The action shifts away from the workshop to the range where a trim golfer takes a few swings with the prized club. A final still is created the moment the screen goes dark and flashes the stylized JAWS typeface.

KERV’s value proposition begins the moment a viewer clicks on any of those stills. The screen returns to the captured moment, at which time highlighted explore points reveal themselves when a cursor hovers over top. Lingering on the head of the golf club or the JAWS logo calls up an additional text box providing more club specs and linking to Callaway’s online store to learn more.

Viewers are invited to play with different explore points in the style of a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Because of the added detail, engagement numbers can surpass the total runtime of the video ad, prompting Spark Foundry to develop a new metric called “earned time spent,” or ETS, to measure the resonance of interactive ads.

“ETS meant a brand would pay for a 15-second or 30-second spot, and due to the interactive element of the ad, the user actually opts in to engage with the unit for longer … than if it had been a traditional digital ad,” Klein says.

Callaway’s interactive ad was timed to run near the height of the holiday shopping season in early- to mid-December. “People are usually in that headspace of … buying [themselves] some things as well as searching around for gifts for others,” Roque says.

Various cuts of the ad were made to appeal to different generations. Taking these cuts as a single asset, the entire spot contained 15 explore points that each linked to a unique exit destination.

The separate cuts also lent themselves to targeted data collection by generation and allowed Callaway to gauge club interest by age. Baby boomers engaged the most with Apex irons, while millennials and Gen Z viewers interacted the most with the JAWS wedge. The interactive extras were easy to edit on the fly if data points demonstrated that any tweaks needed to be made.

“We have a couple of different creative levers we can pull,” Roque says. “For example, automatically putting scenes into the carousel so we can adjust the creative without adjusting the copy. If we saw that baby boomers were spending the most time with the iron and we saw that millennials are spending the most time with the wedges, we’re actually able to optimize the same asset for each of the audiences in a unique way.”


The video delivered a click-through rate more than five times what Callaway anticipated. The ad manages to capture attention for 38 seconds, exceeding the runtime by eight seconds, and doubling data analytics company Moat’s industry benchmark of 19 seconds.

“The benchmark-exceeding engagement numbers speak for themselves, but what was particularly impressive was KERV’s in-house production team,” Shean says “They turned our 30-second TV spot into an incredible interactive experience with 15 unique areas to explore throughout the spot.”

Along with the attention garnered for Callaway, the ad’s success gives KERV another winning case study to promote the promise of interactive web ads.

“People need to really maximize the pixels in these creatives that they’re investing in,” Roque says.

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Devin Monds
Head of EMEA Sales

Devin is a dedicated and experienced media sales professional with over 15 years in the digital media space in both North America and EMEA. He most recently headed up the International Team at Adludio, the premier advertising platform for delivering strong creative on mobile devices. Prior to his role at Adludio, Devin worked on the Global Brand Partnerships team at CAA Sports in London, and was International Sales Director at LoopMe where he built out the US West Coast Sales Team from Los Angeles. With a proven track record of new business development and revenue generation, Devin has a multitude of solid relationships with brands and agencies, globally.

He relishes the opportunity to engage with new clients on a daily basis, in order to identify tailored solutions that can drive their desired outcomes. Furthermore, he takes pride in his culinary skills, often experimenting with new recipes and delivering delectable results.

    Brad Quinn
    VP of Publisher Development

    Brad Quinn is the VP of Publisher Partnerships based out of our NYC office. He has over 15 years of experience across Agencies, Publishers and Tech. At KERV, Brad leads the Partnerships team focused on content providers and distributors. He integrates KERV’s tech capabilities across ads and content to create a real‑time interactive/shoppable experience.

    David Knight
    VP of Engineering

    Before joining KERV in 2018, David Knight spent over 31 years building software products for large corporations like IBM and Schlumberger, 3-person “garage” startups and everything in between. He’s spent the last 15 years discovering and refining the tools, development process, and necessary culture that create great Engineering teams capable of meeting the special demands of technology driven startups.

    Dan Bloomfield
    VP of Technical Ad Operations

    After spending time living in New York and working for NBC Universal’s first digital operations team Daniel moved to Austin in 2009 to further pursue ad tech. During the next decade, he built a career working on interactive video first for Sizmek and then Nexstar. He immediately jumped at the idea to work for KERV and was one of the first to join the company in 2017.

    Creed Pettit
    SVP, Head of Partnerships

    Creed Pettit is an entrepreneurial sales executive offering experience in all aspects of solutions selling, team management, negotiation, organizational leadership, go-to-market strategies and momentum driven models. Prior to joining KERV, Creed served as Media & Entertainment Vertical Sales Leader, Global Business Solutions at TikTok.

    Karen Germ
    VP of Marketing

    Karen Germ is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with a nearly 15‑year history serving in leadership roles across the advertising and technology landscape. Most recently, Karen served as OAAA’s VP of Marketing where she implemented industry leading initiatives to elevate and promote the power of OOH for advertisers, agencies, partners and consumers. 

    Ryan Schoenfeld
    VP of Digital Strategy

    Ryan Schoenfeld’s career started as an intern at a smaller digital media agency while attending the University of Texas. Since then, he has spent over 15 years working in the programmatic advertising/video space.

    Bill Roberson
    VP of Media

    Bill Roberson has worked in the digital space for over 17 years, spanning Media Buying, Ad Operations, Analytics and Optimization, Account Management and now Creative.

    Grant Gorton
    VP of Creative

    Grant has been with KERV as VP of Creative for over 5 years, and has worked as a designer and creative director at agencies and media companies for the last 17 years.

    Michael Fleischman

    Michael Fleischman serves as the CFO at KERV Interactive in addition to being an Executive Residence at Progress Partners, a Merchant Investment Bank and Venture Fund. Prior to KERV Interactive, Michael was the CFO and current Board Member at Digital Remedy, a privately-held media execution company supporting agencies, publishers, and brands in navigating the complex adtech landscape of digital success.

    Previous to Digital Remedy, Michael spent 20 years at Cablevision and Rainbow Media Holdings during which he was instrumental in the launch and management of multiple regional sports networks and a number of national cable networks including American Movie Classics, Bravo, The Independent Film Channel as well as the structuring of partnerships with companies including Liberty Media, NBC, Fox/NewsCorp, and MGM. 

    A native of the New York City area, Michael resides with his wife where he enjoys biking, tennis  and spending time with his wife and three adult children.

    Taylor Pate

    Taylor Pate serves as CTO at KERV Interactive. Taylor’s experiences in the advertising and creative industry spans 14. He began his career in 2008, working as a designer, animator and art director specializing in the design and production of interactive art. Early in his career, he created 3D character animations and tools for best-selling video game series The Sims while working at Edge of Reality, who developed video games for Nintendo 64, GameCube, PlayStation and Xbox.

    In 2012, Taylor made the shift to work in-house at an online advertising and media services agency, LIN Digital, where he was promoted multiple times in a four-year span. He worked on a variety of online, interactive projects for clients while also developing and automating internal tools and processes. Taylor then spent the next two years working as the director of engineering at multi-platform digital media company HYFN Local, a division of multi-billion-dollar corporation Nexstar Digital LLC.

    Jay Wolff

    Jay Wolff serves as Chief Revenue Officer at KERV Interactive, leading global revenue and partnerships, in addition to being the Executive Vice President of 212 NYC, New York’s leading organization for the digital advertising industry. 

    Jay’s expertise in revenue and partner growth in the advertising industry spans 19 years. Most recently, Jay served as CRO of Varick Media, and Chief Growth Officer at Boostr, the first end-to-end SaaS revenue management system for media companies. Previously, as Regional Vice President of SambaTV, Wolff built the revenue organization and east coast market from the ground up. 

    Prior to joining SambaTV, Wolff served as Vice President of agency and brand partnerships at PulsePoint; instrumental to the merger of ContextWeb and Datran Media.

    Jay holds a BS in Marketing from Syracuse University and a Certificate of Management from the University of Chicago. He resides in Rye Brook, NY with his wife and daughter, Olivia. 

    Dan Bienenfeld

    Before co‑founding KERV in 2017, Dan Bienfeld spent the previous 35 years founding six start‑ups in various verticals such as publishing, licensing, med‑tech and ad‑tech. Within these companies, he enjoyed two meaningful exits, which provided him with the ability to continue his passion as an entrepreneur. 

    Aside from bringing together ‘Rock Star Talent,’ his main focus has been raising over $50M, primarily for the startups identified above, as well as creating strategic partnerships. Currently he lives in Westlake Village, CA with his wife and two kids. In addition to his entrepreneurial journey, he also enjoys working out, traveling and an addiction to sushi.

    Gary Mittman

    Gary Mittman brings more than 30 years of experience in technology and direct marketing, as well as substantial experience in building startups to exit with creativity and agile development. Before starting KERV, he held numerous top‑ranking leadership roles, including Founder & President of Nami Media (which was acquired by Lin Media/Nexstar Media Group), CEO & Founder of Marina Communications (also acquired), and Vice President of New Business Development, Direct Response at Western International Media (now Initiative Media).

    Gary also brings a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, including managing all booking for New York City’s premiere performance night club, The Ritz, as its Executive Manager and Booking Agent, Executive Producer of the MTV concert series ‘Live At The Ritz’, a Professional Manager at Chappell Music Publishing, and started out as an Assistant to legendary Clive Davis at Arista Records.

    Andi Fenster

    Andi Fenster went into the profession of Human Resources 30 years ago, because she believed from a young age that the way you treat your employees is what you get out of them. Her goal as an HR professional has been to help create the type of work environments that inspire folks to want to come to work. She is also a Management/Leadership/Career Coach and her focus is optimizing humans focusing on the mind‑body connection. 

    “We, each, have tremendous potential and the abilities to level‑up if we choose to understand how to get the support we need to get us there. Helping talent thrive and helping them create success is my reason for doing what I do.”

    Marika Roque
    COO & Chief Innovation Officer

    Marika Roque is a top expert in digital media, data and organizational infrastructures recognized with over 15 years of professional leadership experience. Previous to KERV, Marika worked as the vice president of digital operations for Mass2, a division of multi-billion-dollar corporation Nexstar Digital LLC. Prior to Mass2, Marika served as vice president of digital media activation at LIN Digital.

    Marika has held senior-level positions for leading advertising agencies in the Austin, Texas area including Sizmek and GSD&M. She also spent years in Chicago working for FCB Global and Starcom MediaVest Group. While at Starcom, Marika was recognized for her involvement in the creation of the first agency-side programmatic pipelines and what the industry now refers to as an agency trading desk.

    Marika holds a Bachelor’s in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin, which she achieved while also participating as a former D1 collegiate athlete.