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Staples sequentially targets mobile users with 4X higher ROI

Hoping to gain a better understanding of mobile advertising?s impact on sales, Staples delivered a one-two punch of interactive brand-focused ads followed by direct response messaging, driving a four-times higher return on investment compared to an interactive ad alone.

Staples worked with Carat on a program targeting small business owners, with 83 percent of the media spend going to mobile. While the first ad introduced viewers to the wide range of offerings available at Staples with an interactive game and calculator, it was the retargeted direct message that was responsible for a higher percentage of revenue, at 77 percent.

?Mobile?s biggest strength for this campaign was bringing utility to its customers,? said Ed Gorman, executive vice president and managing director at Carat. ?The campaign?s creative assets were content that demonstrated the commercial benefits to the businesses delivered by Staples.

?We believe the success of the campaign is the direct result of understanding the needs of the customers, how Staples can add value and the capabilities of the mobile adtech,? he said. 

Swipe and sling
Retailers continue to struggle with measuring mobile?s impact on sales.

Staples set out to shed some light on the issue, working with Carat to develop interactive mobile ads it thought would be useful and interesting to potential small business customers.

The goal of the campaign, which ran earlier this year, was to engage these consumers and drive sales.


The first of two interactive ads, Slingshot, included a cross-device adver-game that integrated with social media and enabled users to swipe and sling Staples? products into a shopping basket.

The second unit, Interactive Office Calculator, enabled users to calculate how much they would save each year by shopping Staples rather than their current supplier.

These first two ads were designed to showcase the selection of products available at Staples, the savings and rewards customers can enjoy and the retailer?s expedited shipping.

A direct approach
The campaign then retargeted those who engaged with either of these ad units with a direct response message that was designed to encourage customers to make a purchase.

The two companies hoped to gain a more accurate view of performance, particularly the impact of mobile media, by using a cross-device, algorithmic attribution methodology rather than the last-click approach often relied upon in digital marketing.


The results show that mobile ads are effective, but that users are ultimately converting either in-store or on desktop, not on their mobile device. More specifically, while 83 percent of the media spend was on a mobile device, 75 percent of conversions happened in-store and 25 percent were on desktop.

The campaign delivered a cross-devise revenue increase of over 95 percent versus the last-click model.

The results also underscore how the interactive units helped introduce consumers to Staples while the retargeted direct response ad closed the deal, as 77 percent of revenue came from the latter and 23 percent from the former.

Adding layers
The sequential targeting also resulted in a four-times higher ROI compared to other campaigns that featured a larger interactive ad unit but did not have the added layer of retargeted banners with a direct response message.

Several other partners also helped develop the campaign, including Amnet, Adcade and ActionX.

?The results of the campaign indicate that to be highly effective, we need to lean-in on collaborating between adtech companies to design utility for customers,? Mr. Gorman said. 

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York