JCPenney Optical, the one-stop shop for family eyewear in JCPenney stores, wanted to increase its in-store sales and brand awareness. Working with agency SEER Interactive and partner U.S. Vision, the retailer focused on digital for the April 2014 Spring Collection campaign. It ran Lightbox Ads and YouTube TrueView ads across the Google Display Network to reach a broad audience. And to help boost its mobile presence, it adjusted bids to ensure that ads were prominently featured on mobile devices. All in all, its efforts resulted in an 830% increase in online exposure and a 285% rise in conversions.


  • Drive foot traffic and in-store sales
  • Extend reach and awareness of the JCPenney Optical brand


  • Shifted traditional budgets to digital for its first online branding campaign
  • Provided greater search exposure on desktop and mobile
  • Tested Engagement Ads to bring its offline catalogs online
  • Ran targeting advertising across the Google Display Network using interest-based targeting
  • Ran YouTube TrueView ads to broaden reach and engagement


  • 830% more online exposure
  • 8x jump in use of store locators
  • 649.5% lift in store locators on mobile
  • 285% rise in conversions
  • Greater foot traffic to JCPenney stores
November 2014

JCPenney Optical is a retailer of optical products and services, operating licensed departments in almost 400 JCPenney stores across America. Historically an offline advertiser, it invested heavily in print and magazine advertising, as well as mailers. Its offline goal was to extend its customer reach.

SEER Interactive is a Google Partner agency with a team of certified strategists, analysts and consultants who aim to maximize the use of the internet as a medium for building awareness and driving leads and sales for its clients.

JCPenneys Optical requested that SEER develop a plan to decrease its offline marketing spend, shifting a greater portion of the budget to Google online ads while exploring new digital opportunities. JCPenney Optical's internal marketing team developed the ad content while SEER Interactive implemented and managed this effort within JCPenney Optical's AdWords account.

Goal to drive in-store traffic

JCPenney's main objective with this campaign was to drive in-store traffic through targeted digital impressions and conversions. For JCPenney Optical, conversions include customers who have made an online appointment, signed up for a newsletter, printed a coupon or offer, or used the store locator.

Working with SEER Interactive, JCPenney Optical and partner U.S. Vision shifted funds from print to digital for the spring collection campaign in April 2014. The retailer launched a month-long test using the Google Display Network (GDN), YouTube TrueView and Lightbox Ads to determine how digital's targeting, reach and cost-effectiveness could help it find a new audience and provide new business opportunities.

Part of the Engagement Ads suite, Lightbox Ads help find new customers who are interested in your brand message, requiring advertisers to pay only when users engage. The format lets advertisers build interactive product catalogs instead of static printed versions, so customers can browse and take action.

TrueView ads helped JCPenney Optical engage its audience through interest categories and remarketing. JCPenney Optical's combined TrueView and GDN campaign efficiently distributed its message across platforms, leading to much greater reach, traffic and engagement.

JCPenney Optical also recognized the importance of mobile and adjusted its bids to ensure top positioning on smartphones and other mobile devices. With customers commonly searching while on the go, it wanted a strong mobile presence whenever anyone needed to locate a store.

The striking Lightbox format held the attention of viewers and increased the odds of brand recognition and positive association.

"Stronger, more memorable" brand experience

To ensure that its ads reached the right audience, JCPenney Optical created a new digital campaign using targeting capabilities and more visually engaging ad formats. It ran its campaigns in cities with JCPenney Optical stores, focusing on reaching an audience of women and moms.

Each campaign segment also focused on bargain hunters and value shoppers. The Lightbox campaign highlighted the spring collection, tying it into the Display and YouTube marketing efforts. These formats were efficient and cost-effective ways to distribute promotional video across multiple platforms, helping JCPenney Optical boost audience reach while increasing customer engagement with the brand.

"JCPenney Optical had some great assets, including video and a PDF lookbook, that were a perfect fit for Lightbox Ads. With limited time to make an impact, we wanted to make sure we were using the most engaging ad formats to make a lasting impression," says Jeffrey Pierson, director of digital strategy for U.S. Vision, which operates the retailer's in-store optical centers.

"The striking Lightbox format held the attention of viewers and increased the odds of brand recognition and positive association," he adds. "This replaced a printed version of the catalog and made it come to life online in an engaging format." The YouTube ads also helped boost reach and brand-engagement rate.

Thanks to detailed reporting tools for evaluating customer interaction, such as expansion rate, site clicks and pages viewed, "we were able to draw conclusions about the impact these ads had on viewers," Pierson says. "Going beyond impressions or even clicks and optimizing toward engagement allows a stronger, more memorable brand experience with our target demographic."

Boosting conversions and driving store visits

Overall, the spring collection campaign garnered 30M impressions. That was 8.3x more than in April 2013, on a budget that was only 6x higher—making the digital spring campaign 38% more efficient. Conversions (especially scheduling an eye exam online) increased by 285%.*

"The clickthrough rate (CTR) and level of engagement of the Display campaign greatly outperformed the other formats and our historical benchmarks," Pierson says. “We were pleasantly surprised by the percentage of users who clicked to the website after watching—and the traffic driven by the ad following plays. This was among our most successful efforts."

The use of the store locator jumped eightfold during the test period, compared with a month earlier. Altogether, JCPenney Optical and U.S. Vision found that the Spring Collection digital campaign was more effective in driving revenue than a print campaign alone. "More focused targeting and dynamic, engaging ad formats delivered a more relevant and memorable brand experience for customers exposed to these campaigns," Pierson says.

Finally, JCPenney Optical's mobile presence was key in driving store traffic. The use of store locators on mobile devices soared 649.5% proving the importance of having a strong mobile presence to capture on-the-go customers.

Future investment in digital

The very strong campaign results proved the value of Google online ads to JCPenney Optical. The company is now planning to invest much more in digital advertising as part of its total marketing strategy. "We'll continue to push for seasonal fashion collections for shoppers," Pierson says. "And we will run another digital push that replaces offline spend."

*Data from JCPenney Optical's Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts.