Upstart E-Tailer Urban Ladder Prefers Smarter Segmentation To Rating Points

ULCPG brands are the big TV spenders, but ecommerce and subscription startups like Gilt and Birchbox are coming on strong.

Take Urban Ladder, a Bangalore, India-based online retailer specializing in home furniture and décor. While the company historically focused on digital, it has lately begun to include TV for awareness building. It declined to share specifics, but said TV has “a significant share of spend,” despite its online roots.

India has a robust television market – PwC estimates the entertainment and media sector will reach $36.5 billion by 2018 – so Urban Ladder sees an opportunity to attract more consumers who fit its target demographic of married, digitally savvy shoppers in the 25-45 age bracket looking to create a beautiful, well-furnished home.

Urban Ladder had only recently jumped into TV, but its initial efforts were focused on broad-reaching demography. The brand wanted to measure the impact on its desired segment and sales more effectively.

“It was hard to understand what traffic was attributable to which channels,” said Nikhil Ramaprakash, VP of marketing for Urban Ladder. “This is a black box in the case of most brand campaigns. We wanted to get maximum traction in our given spend, which wasn’t being answered by ratings points.”

TV ads were traditionally measured through target rating points (TRP) – the percentage of a target audience exposed to an ad – or gross rating points (GRP), which multiples total audience reach by frequency of exposure.

The GRP and TRP, however, “are very broad reach metrics,” according to Ramaprakash, that don’t necessarily factor in brand impact. While these metrics are a good reference point to determine if an advertiser is reaching their target audience, they are less granular around campaign effectiveness. 

Urban Ladder is using Vizury’s TV attribution and analytics tool to tie its TV ad spend to its other marketing activity. Although Vizury originated as a display retargeter, it works with a number of e-tailers to help drive actions like in-app purchases.

“As we analyzed the path to conversion, we realized one of the major contributors to traffic spikes and drops in digital was what a marketer did in their offline marketing, particularly TV,” said Sunil Kumar, a senior product manager for new initiatives at Vizury. “Our ecommerce customers wanted to know how their television commercial influenced things like app downloads and frequency of purchase.”

Urban Ladder’s objective was to identify the channels and content genres (like movies, entertainment or infotainment) that contributed most to its site traffic. The brand chose to target a national audience narrowed down by key metro areas.

Although there is no foolproof way to determine whether a TV ad drove site traffic unless you’re in a room with a person when they view the ad, there are workarounds.

By segmenting Urban Ladder’s database, Vizury helped predict what programs would best perform against the brand’s audience personas.

Vizury created a control test that isolated website visitors that arrived on Urban Ladder’s site from other digital channels like email, display and social. Thus, it could segment visitors who came to the brand’s site either through natural or branded search.

“We then collected data around when a particular ad ran, what network and how many people visited the site after the ad ran,” Kumar said. He said Vizury’s database pipes in minute-level data through integrations with ratings companies and other TV-monitoring agencies.

One of the biggest surprises, according to Ramaprakash, was the latency effect around its campaign flight.

“An interesting learning for our category was the lag [from the TV ad exposure] to the actual sales impact that came a few days to a week later,” said Ramaprakash.

That delay could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks, especially if a viewer saw a brand’s commercial three times over the course of a week.

Urban Ladder also determined which programs were most effective at driving traffic at different time slots.

For instance, Animal Planet, Discovery, History TV18 and TLC performed best around the 4 p.m. time slot on the weekend, while movie channels like Sony Pix performed well during the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. slots, judging from the site and mobile traffic spikes that occurred simultaneously.

“We also saw that many [niche] channels performed better than [premium] channels in a genre,” Ramaprakash added. “We saw very good traction with a Hindi [general entertainment channel] where we had not anticipated such an impact.”

Advertisers often buy common search phrases associated with their brand (for instance, “cheap furniture”), but that can build up traffic for that search category – and not necessarily brand recognition.

“This is where attribution can really come in, and say, ‘Yes, this customer began with search but these were his other touch points,’” Kumar said. “You want to determine if someone who never opened your email now has more awareness of your brand because of TV, so they open your email now.”

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