5 brands using programmatic advertising the right way


Programmatic advertising is still a relatively new discipline, and brands remain unsure about the best approach to follow. The eventual goal for programmatic advertising is to serve ads to targeted consumers in a more efficient and timely manner. However, the complexity lies in the fact that there is considerable variation in the automated platforms aiding the campaign execution, as well as in the way in which the results are measured and quantified. Companies should therefore first decide on the metrics they will be using for tracking their ROI of the programmatic spend.

Various companies have approached their digital marketing needs with programmatic marketing. We will be discussing five instances where these brands have disrupted their respective industries with a programmatic advertising approach.


ScS, one of the furnishing retailer brands, wanted to see an impact of their digital investments in their in-store footfall. They partnered with Epiphany, a UK-based digital marketing agency and reached the targeted audience through YouTube and Facebook. ScS used the data from MediaIQ, Google Analytics web traffic and store visitor data from their internal database. They brought together various data strands to target customers at times when they were most likely to visit their local store. These data points were combined with GPS data to enable ad targeting according to the location of the customer. This included their mobile devices. They also ran product offers and location-based messaging on social platforms and on the wider display network.

Mobile location tracking was used to estimate the number of store visits for the duration of the campaign.

Between March and June 2016, the campaign had a 57% increase in store footfall compared to the same period of the previous year.1 ScS also saw an increase both in their online sales as well as in-store sales.


Expedia, already a leader in the travel and tourism segment, wanted to attach more importance to ad viewability rather than just creating impressions. With the help of Infectious Media, Expedia conducted A/B testing to identify regular buyers, namely customers who make a purchase irrespective of the fact that they have seen an ad from Expedia or not. They formed a programmatic model where the converting customers who saw an ad are differentiated from converters who didn’t, with a control group composed of the latter. Then they tracked the uplift in conversions of those who saw an ad against the control group, made incremental changes to the campaign and further monitored the response to optimize the campaign. Most of these were display ads on Facebook and Youtube. As a result of this model, the incremental CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) dropped by more than 50% during the first six months of the campaign.

This campaign became one of Expedia’s best programmatic strategies in APAC and delivered a CPA of 82% below target.2


Canada-based BuildDirect is a home improvement website that aims to reach both their new customers and high-value website visitors who did not initially convert. SourceKnowledge, an ad retargeting company, helped BuildDirect in segmenting its audience based on where they were in the buying process, including the product category they were interested in as well as the first piece of creative they had been exposed to. Campaigns were created to drive prospecting traffic to each of the product lines such as flooring, decking, building materials, etc. with video pre-roll. Display creatives (banner ads) were used for retargeting.3

In 2016 Q1 the campaign delivered more than 13 million impressions to high-valued prospects in the US.

The campaign achieved 490% better margin on advertising spent and an improvement of 8% in average order value compared to other prospecting and remarketing partners.


AirAsia, the award-winning low-cost airline, wanted to maximize its conversions, efficiently reach their audience and achieve an ROA (Return on Ad Spend) of at least 5 times through digital advertising. AirAsia used Facebook as a complete end-end marketing channel. Three customer segments were created from the first-party CRM data and display. Video ads were also used to target these customer profiles on Facebook.4

  • Frequent flyers were shown ads providing reasonable rates for routes they had flown before, which directed these people to AirAsia’s website.
  • Recent website visitors, who searched for a route but didn’t convert, were retargeted with information about those routes.
  • High-value customers and brand advocates were targeted with brand advertising, including videos.

A total of 20% of the viewers watched the entire video.

The Facebook campaign helped AirAsia to earn 30 times more return on ad spends with its CRM data.

Missing People

Missing People is a USA-based non-profit organization that wanted to run its Child Rescue Alert campaign. However, it had a meager budget and marketing spend. The company ran location-based ads that automatically appear in people’s Facebook news feeds when a child goes missing in their area. For a missing child, they were able to advertise a more targeted, location-based appeal for a week across the whole of UK. Because of the dynamic nature of a digital advertising board, Missing People could also immediately replace an ad for a child that had been found with one that was still missing. The percentage of children they appealed for that were found alive increased by about 20%.5


  1. https://www.epiphanysearch.co.uk/our-work/scs
  2. https://www.infectiousmedia.com/case-studies/expedia/
  3. http://www.sourceknowledge.com/blog/build-direct-case-study
  4. https://www.facebook.com/business/success/AirAsia
  5. https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/09/21/how-one-charity-saved-lives-by-moving-to-programmatic/

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