Thought Leadership
Trendsetting: Agency Media Buying for eCommerce Fashion & Apparel Clients


Vanessa Goodfriend
Digital Media Manager, Display
Blue Moon Digital

As Digital Media Manager of display, Vanessa oversees & manages display strategy, methodology & definition of digital display services, supervises & mentors the display team, and cultivates display partner relationships. Acting as the Senior Display Strategist for BMDi, Vanessa creates, monitors and manages with display strategy for several BMDi clients on a daily basis. With over six years of digital marketing experience, her expertise includes holistic paid media strategies, social media, SEO, ecommerce, lead generation, and web analytics. Vanessa has worked across various industries including travel, fashion & apparel, insurance, healthcare & education.


For those of us that aren’t familiar with Blue Moon Digital, tell us a little more about your agency

Blue Moon Digital, Inc is an eCommerce Digital Agency located in Denver, Colorado. We offer email, SEO, social, affiliate, paid search, display and more! We have a deep expertise in fashion, apparel & retail.


What are some of the key differences, and core challenges, in doing end-to-end media buying for fashion and apparel eCommerce brands?

Fashion & apparel is one of the fastest moving industries I’ve ever worked in – and I used to work for a Las Vegas hotel. The needs of the clients change daily and therefore our media plans need to be incredibly nimble. From budget pacing & sharing across channels, to updating targeting & creative in market, our media plans require amazing flexibility. While it may feel counter-intuitive, these campaigns require heavy planning up front to run smoothly. Running eCommerce campaigns for Fashion & Apparel brands, our buys really focus on key holidays so we can maximize buyer behavior and boost sales for our clients. Planning for the Christmas holiday season starts in about April so that we can have the best possible plan in place. We outline budgets by channel, vendor and even by week in most cases to ensure our plans align with their goals.


Is there a specific set of essential tools/services you use to help with your processes, campaign execution, or analytics?

For our paid media programs, we leverage DoubleClick suite. This tool was chosen by our agency so we can house our paid search and display campaigns in the same tool as most of our paid media team members specialize in both paid search and display. We do have several clients who run their media through Marin & Sizmek as well.

On top of our paid media tools, we rely heavily on our clients analytics tools like Google Analytics, Omniture & Core Metrics.


Since you are managing all of the paid and earned media for a client, how do you ensure a consistent voice/message across all channels?

We work very closely with our clients brand teams & any brand guidelines they provide. When it comes to ad copy & voice, we tend to work through an approval process until our team has the tone of the brand down and can create copy with little oversight. We often leverage on site messaging, social media properties and good old fashion branding guides to ensure consistency across the assets we are managing with that of the website.


What are some of your strategies for upper-funnel prospecting, and lower-funnel acquisition? Do you do product/category-specific ads for lower-funnel tactics like retargeting?

For upper-funnel prospecting, we are really great at identifying similar behaviors that fit our client’s demographics outside of just their first party shopping behaviors. For example, for one of our maternity clients, we are working to ensure we can target users who are in market for lactation consultants or baby classes. These signals allow us to pinpoint expectant moms and prospect them for maternity clothes.

We also leverage category and product level creative to not only message our product/category but also to message our brand value. Running contextual or direct buys allows us to cater our creative to the content being consumed and therefore create a greater association with the customer to our product line. An example in action is when we focus on a car accessory product line for a buy on for a larger department store.

With retargeting, we have found that personalization is key. These are users who are familiar with our brand, our product line and the value. We may not have wowed them the last time they were on site, maybe they were at work and were rushed before committing, maybe they didn’t want to buy on their mobile phone, this is the low hanging fruit that is essential to stay in front of. Working with partners like Adroit, Quantcast PRT and others in market has allowed us to create dynamic ads based on the users browsing behavior, and in some cases, provide recommendations as well. These types of ads lead to greater CTR as well as Conv. Rate.

Regardless of the targeting tactic, being relevant to the user is the most important piece.


How do to measure success for an upper-funnel branding, or lower-funnel performance campaign? What are specific KPIs you’ve used for clients?

Currently we rely heavily upon our client’s preferred analytics tool (Omniture, GA, etc.) for upper funnel branding initiatives. The reason we do this is we do a ton of content placements and tracking through a traditional display tool is tricky, so we rely on GA to track new visitors, bounce rates, pages/visit, time on site and other site engagement metrics. We also pay close attention to increases in our email list, Facebook likes, Twitter followers and other social signals indicating a change while our media is in-market. We also will rely on creative metrics – CTR, hover, scrolling (if available) and video completion rates. When it comes to lower funnel efforts, we track through our ad server and we measure mostly on ROAS. Goals obviously shift based on the client but ROAS has always been a good indicator or performance for our fashion and apparel clients. We have also validated lift in our lower funnel efforts by conducting multiple PSA (public service announcement tests aka A/B or 50/50) tests. These tests are designed to measure the value of each user on site when served a client’s ad vs. those users who are served a blank or placebo ad. We have seen phenomenal lift results with these tests. One of our larger advertisers saw an 88% lift in the value of each user on site when retargeting ads are in market – that’s HUGE! As a whole, our team loves to test theories and use testing to validate our work, we are constantly proposing or running new tests to provide lift to our clients but this has been the most reliable way to measure a client’s lift when display is running.


How have you incorporated email marketing, with lists or publisher subscribers into your overall paid marketing strategy?

Email marketing is one of our largest channels. We leverage a ton of the segmentation that our email campaigns use to create more robust targeting within our acquisition and retargeting campaigns. The level of detail really depends on the level of segmentation that our email team has created with our clients so synergy here is VERY important. We have leveraged these lists across Facebook as well as network buys to create a robust online profile of the users we want to target as well as a model to prospect off of.


What is your take on view-through attribution

This is the $1,000,000 question. View through attribution is really client by client. I have some clients who see that they really see a drop off after 2 days where I have others who need to look at larger look back windows based on their product. We spend hours analyzing each client’s specific first touch –assisted – and last touch data to create the most relevant model. A large part of our planning time goes into creating custom view through models for our client but our stance which has been culled over several A/B tests (50% receive clients ads, 50% receive PSA ads) is that there is true value provided to the entire site (not just the display users) when display ads are running, so view-through value is important in telling at least part of that story.


Have you tried any more sophisticated techniques, such as running 1st party client data through a DMP, for more effective targeting or creative optimization?

We have done a lot of testing with a CRM integration tools through various partners to create these CRM targeting options and have seen some great acquisition rates, when it comes to converting off-line users to on-line users however, we are still figuring out this approach.


How have Facebook or Twitter worked out for your clients as platforms?

Facebook is our second largest display buy. We work across branding, acquisition and direct response goals in Facebook and have seen a ton of success across all three tactics! We are currently evaluating a social tool to streamline management and reporting for Facebook & Twitter. With Pinterest’s release of the “Buy” button, we anticipate a large amount of social budgets to shift towards this mobile driven channel.


What role does mobile have in campaigns for clients?

For most of our clients, mobile traffic has already surpassed our desktop traffic. Not being visible in mobile is detrimental to our performance not just from display but from the site overall. With Google’s algorithm update to favor mobile friendly websites, a lot of our clients are putting a large chunk of their budgets towards mobile traffic as well as improving mobile experience. We also have many clients experimenting with Google Wallet, Apple Pay, PayPal and other one-touch payment services to streamline mobile payments and increase conversion rates from mobile. With this advancement in our client’s efforts, we have been able to increase our mobile budgets and drive more value through mobile for our clients.


Any thoughts on both organic, and paid, content marketing strategies?

Every channel is integrated deeply in each other. As the display manager for BMDi, I work with email on targeting & messaging strategies, with organic, we measure lift when our ads are in market, and the cross-over between PPC and display is a constant conversation. Content marketing is a newer field for us but we have created a cohesive partnership between our SEO & display team to get the best of both worlds when delivering content marketing & promotional strategies.


Does media buying differ for clients with higher, and lower, average order values?

Absolutely. When a brands AOV is above $200, you are dealing with a completely different market than that brand whose AOV is $90. Budgets are often different as well. Both of these factors lead to drastically different strategies and media buying.


What are some biggest issues now in the ad buying marketplace? Do you think programmatic can help with any of these?

Ad collision is one of the biggest issues we run into with our clients. Whether we are running multiple programs and partners or we are just running with one, instances of more than one or even two ads appearing to the same user on the same page at the same time has become not only a brand image issue but a user experience issue. Unfortunately, a large part of this issue is created by programmatic. Luckily we have started to partner with some brand safety companies who are working with our partners to limit ad collision and improve user experience, and this will be a learning process for us. Scale is always a problem when you limit delivery so something we have eyes on all the time!


Lastly, what do you feel is the future of media buying for eCommerce Fashion and Apparel companies? 

Shoppable video! I am so excited to test this in the GDN with some of our clients but video is honestly where I see a large portion of our clients budgets shifting as the video space becomes more savvy. We are also keeping our eye on online to in-store solutions and tracking. A ton of our clients started as brick and mortar and as their customers become multi-channel shoppers, understanding and capitalizing on their shopping behavior online and in store is a hug shift and huge opportunity. Can’t wait to see where the technology takes us!



At Blue Moon Digitial, our team is dedicated to making the most of every opportunity by delivering the right message, to the right audience at the right moment on the right device.  We provide a full suite of digital marketing services including; SEM, SEO, Email Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Display Advertising and Web Analytics.   Our clients leverage our expertise in predictive analysis, digital media, integrated campaigns and audience management to fuel growth and outpace their competitors while always delivering a solid ROI.

We take pride in guiding our clients through the fast moving, ever-changing world of digital marketing and engaging potential customers at the precise moment of consideration. Our tenured staff are considered trusted, strategic advisors to their clients who are dedicated to transforming your ecommerce business into a successful, predictive revenue engine.

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