A luxury retailer increased sales 171 percent with smart retargeting

by Richard Robinson, Managing Director, EMEA, Turn

Outlaw Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks. His reply? “Because that’s where the money is.”

Straightforward common sense like that is unusual in digital advertising. For instance, we often fail to consider the type of device, the day-part and seasonal changes in consumer behavior that might substantially boost results. The modern correlate of Sutton’s logic is that marketers need to to go where the customers are when they’re in buying mode.

Unfortunately, it can be tough to know exactly where your best customers will be when you launch a campaign. A good marketer always starts with data, but a great marketer knows when to optimize. This is how a luxury retail brand, working with us during the holidays, saw a 171% increase in revenue using a combination of audience data and super-optimized device-targeting strategies. In this case, we found the type of device and time of day mattered tremendously. As the holiday season wore on, tailored messaging was also vital to success.

Two-Phase Approach

The global program–across EMEA, the US and Asia-Pacific–began in November with an emotional campaign on  sites like The Economist, eBay, Amazon and Yahoo. This phase, which included in-stream video ads, homepage takeovers and standard display ads, was designed to generate interest, and as a result, data. Respondents to this phase of the campaign were considered likely gift-givers.

During the campaign Turn gathered anonymized audience data that would enable definitive retargeting of interested gift-givers. For example, Turn was able to identify a daypart and device strategy to engage gift-givers when they were most likely to convert. We also gained insight into which environments resonated the most with gift-givers—and, therefore, where they would likely visit again. Through this campaign we found that there was high engagement on tablets and mobile at night from 10 pm to 1 am and and high engagement on PCs during the afternoon.

With more specific consumer segments in hand, we launched a December direct-response campaign aimed at people who had seen the November ads. We orchestrated retargeting, conquesting and dynamic creative optimizations using standard ad formats..The two-part flighting delivered three important findings that helped us find “where the money was”:

First, we found that creative sequencing – using different iterations of the same campaign executions – significantly raised response rates.

We also discovered that gift-givers were more likely to buy from a desktop and that the type of desktop device really mattered. Mac users were six times more likely to convert than PC users. So naturally, we optimized the campaign to target Mac userswhile also retargeting display inventory across devices, reaching customers with dynamic creative based on their previously expressed interests. This drove purchases because it put the right offers in front of the right purchaser at the opportune time. Focusing on a combination of devices optimized this approach.

Finally, we learned that our shoppers were working on their gift lists during work hours, so we made sure to deliver ads on weekday afternoons across devices.


This informed and optimized approach yielded positive results for the advertiser. In addition to boosting revenue, ROI jumped 29% year-over-year and customer actions increased 271%.

These outcomes were the result of smart targeting based on learning the habits of customers in the target group. They were far less likely to browse from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., so we didn’t waste ad dollars there. Instead we focused on workday afternoons and late nights when they were most active.

The outcome was encouraging. Marketers can move past a spray and pray strategy that wastes money by going where the real customers are. Like Willie Sutton, brands can finally go where the money is.

You can download a full case study on the campaign here.


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