Home Advertiser Beauty Retailer Birchbox Returns To TV

Beauty Retailer Birchbox Returns To TV


atAfter a brief hiatus from television, Birchbox is reinvesting in the medium for a multiplatform holiday campaign.

Birchbox, which sends beauty products to its subscribers every month, is using a 30-second TV spot and digital assets to message not just beauty-obsessed women, but also more casual makeup users or men who want gift ideas.

Amanda Tolleson, CMO of Birchbox, spoke with AdExchanger about the brand’s return to TV and how it’s using digital to extend its commercial.

AdExchanger: What made you come back to TV?

AMANDA TOLLESON: Our general philosophy is to test and learn and we’d had TV spots on air for about a year and a half [before taking a break last spring].

We didn’t want to be complacent and assume this would be what we’d do from now until forever. We wanted to test what would happen if we paused TV and really focused on driving the same type of awareness through top-of-funnel in digital channels. 

We saw success in terms of the efficiency in social, but we weren’t able to get to the volume we needed. Using social to drive upper-funnel awareness is still evolving in the platforms themselves. Although we integrated ads on Facebook and Instagram, we found TV still needed to be a strong part of our marketing mix. So we’ve added it back at a different level of spend, and plan to continue using it for a long time.

Is social video as effective for branding efforts or is it more about performance?

We’ve been playing a lot with Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, which is definitely more of a brand play with video. But I think we’re all trying to figure out what those metrics translate to. We’re comfortable investing behind performance metrics where we know someone converted and at this CPA. In our last test, we tried to determine whether video views, likes or comments translate into a conversion. But it’s not just metrics. It’s also the unique nature of a platform tool.

What do you mean?

The live aspect of video is way more differentiated than what you could do with a static native video on Facebook. We were one of the first to really jump on Facebook Live and saw a ton of success, but we’re still doing a lot of work to see how it drives an actual conversion.


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The way we see it is, build up engagement and build up your skill set and strength with it first. We really focus on jumping on these new opportunities early, test out new content and see what’s engaging or sharable, so as new tools become available to monetize it, we’ll be ready.

Birchbox originally advertised using organic likes and shares, and then you invested in paid media. How did that impact your current marketing strategy?

As we thought about strategic growth, we had to really think about what are the right ways to get in front of the right women. For example, we’re doing YouTube pre-roll with that same spot concept, and we’re focused on people who are into DIY or lifestyle videos rather than beauty videos. For some brands, it works to do a very detailed makeup beauty tutorial, but the person we’re going after is not going on YouTube searching for makeup tutorials. So we need to be really creative about integrating beauty into a video that’s not about beauty.

What’s one tactic you’ve used to expand your “sphere of influence”?

Going after gifting, because it expands the world of people we can talk to. Self-subscription still has a large population of casual beauty consumers. But gifting opens us up to all of the men of the world. For instance, buying TV during the holidays, we’ll run on [NBCUniversal’s] Esquire Network because the message is relevant. We think of the holiday time as a way we can reach a larger population of the US and spread our message.

How are you translating the TV spot to digital?

We made special cuts of the TV spot that are in square format running on Facebook and Instagram. We also extend it to our current customer experience, so we have emails we’re sending to current subscribers and if you were shopping during Black Friday, we had little cards in the ecom box with the same mad libs [messaging] from us.

How does data inform the messaging you use?

Beyond segmentation, we use it to personalize your box – so some of the emails and recommendations we provide, [such as] beauty tips for those with curly hair. We have a data science team, who will look at your different levels of engagement with us.

We see if you’re a nonsubscriber who came to our website and shopped with us or if you’re a subscriber who has participated in our “sample choice” program where you pick one sample that comes in your box and you’re probably more engaged. Then, at the top we have a group called Aces, which is our loyalty program.

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