Helping build brands is a priority for Piston, a bicoastal digital agency based in the U.S. Its goal is to do this across a spectrum of media channels, including paid search, display, print, television, video and social. Among its broad range of clients is an online retailer that sells trendy apparel and accessories. Given the dynamic nature of online, keeping this client"s campaigns current and relevant was of the utmost importance. To do so, it used inventory-aware campaigns in DoubleClick Search. Within three months, Piston started seeing results-a 51% rise in ROAS, a 26% jump in CTR and a 50% boost in conversion rate-compared with manually managed campaigns.


  • Automate online campaign management to keep up with ever-changing inventory


  • Use DoubleClick Search inventory-­aware campaigns to automate campaign creation and updates, based on Google Merchant Center feed


  • Higher ROAS (51%), CTR (26%) and conversion rate (50%)
  • Time savings of 38 hours through automated management
January 2014

Piston, a bicoastal digital agency in the U.S., is focused on building brand relationships across a spectrum of media channels, including paid search, display, print, television, video, social and more. It represents a broad range of national clients and brands—among them a retailer that offers trendy apparel and accessories online. In a dynamic retail space, Piston helps its clients maintain a “stylish profile,” keeping its campaigns relevant by automatically creating and updating search campaigns using inventory-aware campaigns from DoubleClickTM Search.

“These days, simply managing paid search programs is not enough to stay competitive. You need to be innovative in how you reach your consumers, precise in how you measure their behavior and highly relevant when you target them,” says Jennifer Johnstone, senior performance marketing strategist at Piston.

To efficiently manage its search campaigns, Piston adopted a variety of workflow features from DoubleClick Search. This included bulk interface actions to make big changes at scale and automated rules to schedule changes to specific ads and keywords based on custom-defined criteria.

However, managing accounts for a popular retail client posed a unique challenge. “The best ad is extremely granular,” Johnstone says. “When you’re working with e-commerce clients that have so many different products, it can be a challenge to update campaigns to reflect that—especially during the busy holidays.” Johnstone recalls one winter when the team worked through the holiday break, manually building out campaigns across its client’s 8,000-plus products to stay on top of changing products and new promotions. With the spring sales season approaching, Piston knew it needed a way to save both time and money. That’s when it turned to DoubleClick Search for a solution.

Managing retail campaigns in real time

Piston adopted inventory-aware campaigns—a campaign management feature from DoubleClick Search that easily integrates with Google Merchant Center to automatically create and update search campaigns based on a retailer’s current product inventory.

“The use of inventory-aware campaigns allows us to save time from manually managing product inventory, enables us to spend our dollars on more efficient product-level keywords and helps us drive more revenue than manual campaign builds,” Johnstone says.

With inventory-aware campaigns, Piston was freed from the cumbersome task of frequently responding to changes in inventory. When the newest prices, descriptions and landing pages were updated in their Google Merchant Center feed, DoubleClick Search applied those changes to Piston’s search campaigns—without any extra work. And in addition to campaign changes, Piston was able to automatically generate new campaigns, bidding down to highly relevant SKU-level and product-level keywords.

Stocking up on time and cost savings with inventory-aware campaigns

It wasn’t long before Piston started seeing impressive results. “When we are looking for a partner, the key questions we ask are can this save us time, can this save us money and does it have added features that can really help us impact our bottom line? And with DoubleClick Search inventory-aware campaigns, the answer was always yes,” Johnstone says.

One quarter, after adopting inventory-aware campaigns, Piston saw a 51% rise in ROAS, a 26% jump in CTR and a 50% boost in conversion rate, compared to manually managed campaigns. In addition, inventory-aware campaigns allowed them to expand keyword coverage on both products and SKUs by 49%.

And in time savings, the results were just as impressive. The team estimates that a single ad or keyword change, along with appropriate QA, would take about three minutes to complete. Today these changes are handled automatically by inventory-aware campaigns, which has saved Piston an estimated 38 hours per quarter since implementation.

A strong partner, the Piston team is looking forward to working closely with its DoubleClick Search product and services experts to define additional features that will help it succeed in retail, and beyond. “DoubleClick has been a great partner for us,” Johnstone says. “What makes them different is that they have always been willing to listen to us. They will only be better, the more they listen to advertisers who are doing this day to day.”