Automation at scale: How to make timely consumer connections during Ramadan

Caner Pekalp / January 2020 / Advertising, Consumer Goods

During Ramadan, the times of the evening meal (iftar) and the morning meal (suhoor) change every day and are different for every city. Is there a way for brands to capitalize on consumers’ need to check these times and make useful connections with them?

The transnational consumer goods company Unilever teamed up with media agency Mindshare to find out. Their plan was to increase website visits by addressing this specific cultural need. The team designed an ad campaign to provide users with countdowns, running search ads across 81 different cities and two brands, Lipton and Knorr. By capturing users’ attention by sharing relevant iftar and suhoor information, they aimed to encourage traffic to the brands’ Ramadan recipes pages and boost brand recognition.

The team selected two separate landing pages, one for Knorr's food recipes content website and another for a retail website where consumers can buy Lipton tea.

The Knorr ad was served to women, while the Lipton campaign was aimed at all audiences. Why women?

"Women often search for iftar times to plan what to prepare for the main meal on that day, so it's very relevant information for them,” said Dilara Özegeli, Senior Performance Marketing Executive at Mindshare. “Tea is also an integral part of Turkish dining culture where it is consumed both after dinner (iftar) and during breakfast (suhoor)."

Managing multiple brands at once

Needing a way to automate ad text to stay relevant in every search result for “when is iftar,” “when is suhoor,” and similar queries, the agency team built a business data table in Search Ads 360 to store iftar and suhoor times.

"We were able to save more than 930 hours that would have gone towards manual text updates"

By implementing automated rules, they were able to maintain correct times in all ads, even outside of working hours. The approach saved them time and improved accuracy, allowing them to manage multiple brands with a single automation task and reducing the reliance on manual inputs.

Save time and impact the bottom line

With this simple change, Unilever enjoyed a 185% uplift in click-through rate (CTR) within the same budget when compared to non-automated campaigns during Ramadan. Their recipe web pages also experienced 15X more visits.

Generic keywords (i.e. keywords not necessarily related to Knorr or Lipton) getting CTR above 20% is uncommon. The campaign displayed a sophisticated mix of ad relevance, informative text and automation. It is also a testament to reaching the correct audience at the correct time (for example, women for suhoor) while providing helpful information.

What’s more, the “Mindshare team was also able to save more than 930 hours that otherwise would have gone towards manual text updates,” according to Dilara Özegeli, Senior Performance Marketing Executive at Mindshare.

With many more brands in the Unilever portfolio, the automated approach can now be extended to other holidays as a way of supplying useful information in consumers’ moments of need and making valuable connections with users.

Ramadan 2020 series part 2: The 4 phases of Ramadan