Lancome Unifies Retargeting And Affiliate Channels

alessio-rossiThere are almost as many approaches to solving the attribution puzzle as there are brands. At Lancome, part of the strategy is to consolidate two key channels with a single vendor.

Alessio Rossi is VP of digital marketing, ecommerce and CRM for the Loreal-owned luxury cosmetics brand. Since joining in May 2012, he has reevaluated Lancome’s approach to CRM and media mix modeling. His tactics include consolidating dynamic retargeting with Linkshare-owned MediaForge. MediaForge was acquired last year by LinkShare, which Lancome already uses to run its affiliate relationships.

Rossi spoke with AdExchanger.

From a marketing standpoint, how important is Lancome’s “owned” media?  

We can completely control the experience [of our digital properties]. We sell through retailers. We do not sell direct to our consumers besides, as well as our social properties and our mobile properties, are important mostly because of their media value. is a destination for people to learn about the brand, learn about the product, understand what is the best solution for them and get engaged. And then possibly shop, either on, at the retailer’s website or offline with the retailer. It’s not really important where they shop, as long as they shop for Lancome.

What is your key overall challenge in digital marketing?

You have a lot of options today. Search has become more diversified and articulated. You have retargeting. You have CRM. You have a lot of interaction between print and mobile. You have many abilities to reach the client. The challenge today is “How can I be relevant at any touch point? What is the right content for each media, at what time, for which type of consumer?”

It’s a big data issue. All these analytics, being able to assess them. For instance,there is a very clear correlation [between] search activity [and] when we air our TV commercials. We were trying to understand if we could plan a deeper keyword build at specific hours of the day, in [coordination] with the TV commercials. You have to go down to that level at this point, which is an extra challenge organizationally, not to mention financially.

Describe your retargeting program, and what MediaForge brings to the table.

Retargeting is a powerful channel, in terms of being…very surgical and provid[ing] an advertisement within a context that is relevant. With MediaForge we’ve found a lot of flexibility in terms of how they display products that have been browsed or abandoned. They’ve branded the experience in an immersive way, in a very interactive way, with social sharing features or videos – all these things that are absolutely necessary to expand the experience beyond and keep customers engaged.

We just launched with MediaForge so we don’t have enough results to draw conclusions, but the capabilities are there.

That’s one part of retargeting. Then there are all the other things you can do in terms of capturing [intent]. You can target people who have searched for you without necessarily having landed on You can target people if they only have a physical address. There is a lot that can be done beyond serving a display ad.

When I arrived, I immediately shifted the CRM strategy into something more targeted, and the focus was on engagement. It wasn’t on sales. It wasn’t on ROI data, but it was on engagement. KPIs like open-rate, click-through rate. And that’s exactly what we are trying to do with retargeting.

We want to deliver something that is interesting, informative, and possibly fun. We believe ROI will come if engagement is there.

What do you think of the state of attribution modeling technology right now?

It’s pretty new. It’s extremely needed by all marketers. Marketers are paying more for media than they should. Brands keep planning by channel rather than by combination of channels, by touch points or by stages along the consumer journey.

That’s why we picked MediaForge. LinkShare manages our affiliate network. We’re now making sure that between retargeting and affiliate, there’s no overlap, and we can very clearly see the interaction between the two.

[Eventually] we’ll have a very holistic view of every consumer touch point – SEO, CRM, email, social, mobile, retargeting – to understand [which] combinations of media work best.

Any thoughts on the work Facebook and others are doing, linking online ad impressions to offline sales?

We are experimenting there. We do it with our own database at For example, we measure the overlap of fans and customers, and fans and subscribers to our CRM program. There is a very high percentage of overlap between our CRM database and people on Facebook.

This goes back to the attribution model question. If you planned by channel only, you would completely disregard social. There are no last clicks to shop from Facebook. Facebook is definitely not a retail channel for us. It’s an engagement channel only.

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