Why Connecting Influencers To Programmatic Was A ‘Shoe’-In For DSW

Allison Holbrook, digital media manager at DSW, and Kolin Kleveno, head of programmatic at 360i, will speak at AdExchanger’s Programmatic IO conference on April 10-11 at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco.

For the past three years, the shoe retailer DSW used influencers to reach prospective shoppers in their teens or early 20s, more as a niche tool than as a marketing channel that drove hard results.

But improved attribution has changed that perspective – not just with influencer campaigns, but even with digital display ads.

“It’s a matter of whether we can prove out that some of these tactics around brand awareness and reach for new customers actually do drive customers to the site or to stores,” said Allison Holbrook, the company’s digital media manager.

Better measurement has been key in helping secure more funding for influencers, Holbrook said: “[It] allows us to have the conversation with higher-ups and make the case that we should focus more here.”

Moreover, the content created by influencers is increasingly redeployed in programmatic campaigns, said Kolin Kleveno, head of programmatic at the Dentsu agency 360i.

Attaching influencer campaigns to a programmatic media plan also improves the omnichannel measurement.

“If you run an influencer campaign in only a walled garden, it’s hard to get metrics beyond followers and engagement with the post,” Kleveno said. Programmatic extensions can use audiences that engaged with the influencers as seed data for lookalike targeting. And mobile data companies can connect media spend to foot traffic.

“It’s harder to measure sales or traffic to site or stores if you aren’t putting paid media behind an influencer campaign,” Holbrook said.

By accumulating lots of data from partners who each own pieces of the puzzle, like the mobile location and bidstream data from programmatic ads, foot-traffic and brand-lift studies and a digital attribution vendor, DSW can assemble a picture of its consumer funnel, she said.

With the increased data and testing, she said DSW now recognizes upper-funnel brand awareness campaigns it previously evaluated over one or two weeks actually play out over more like a month.

Tactics like retargeting, direct response and paid social are easy to turn on and forget about, Holbrook said, since they drive directly to a product sales page and build on the company’s existing CRM profiles.

“It’s much harder,” she said, “but still important to demonstrate the value of reaching people who don’t already know who you are.”

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