For the sports performance brand Under Armour, ecommerce plays a key role in product sales. Over 16,000 items are advertised on Google Shopping and almost all of the products are available in 12 European countries via the manufacturer's online shop. While Under Armour had invested in campaign optimisation for Google Shopping, the team saw further potential and devised a unique campaign structure that divided search traffic by branded and generic terms.
Through our improved funnelling, we achieved an almost complete share of possible impressions for our branded search terms, ensuring that we reach all athletes searching for Under Armour sports performance apparel and footwear in an efficient way.Lauren Geenen, Search Marketing Specialist, Under Armour EU
We decided to split out bestsellers, based on information and forecasts from the Under Armour demand planning team, instead of through the conventional way of looking at historic data only. We did the same with price outliers.Tetsuo Konno, Consultant, iProspect
Having launched in 1996, sports performance brand Under Armour reached a net turnover of $5 billion in 2016 and became the world’s third largest brand in its market. Ecommerce plays a central role in product sales. “Over 16,000 items are advertised on Google Shopping alone”, says Lauren Geenen, the brand’s Search Marketing Specialist for Europe. Currently, almost all of the products are available in 12 European countries via the manufacturer's online shop.
Challenges in campaign management
While Under Armour had invested in campaign optimisation for Google Shopping, the team saw further potential. “The biggest challenge was that a large part of the traffic and sales were achieved by branded search terms within our campaigns”, Lauren explains. “This performance differed greatly from that of our generic search terms but were grouped in the same campaigns and ad groups.” This structure hindered effective bid management and usable insights.”
A groundbreaking optimisation strategy
Under Armour organised a Shopping Lab with performance marketing agency iProspect and Google with the goal of improving the campaign structure based on the search intent of the consumer, on the menu structure of their ecommerce websites and on insights from the business. The main outcome of the workshop was to separate branded from generic traffic in Google Shopping through intelligent use of campaign priorities and funneling of search terms. This improvement allowed Under Armour to optimise differently for search terms with different business goals. “We then went a step further and decided to split out bestsellers per category, based on information and forecasts from the Under Armour demand planning team”, explains iProspect consultant Tetsuo Konno. “We did the same with price outliers.” This approach was a departure from the standard Google Shopping optimisation strategy, whereby bids on bestsellers are determined by only their past performance. In Under Armour’s new strategy, the bestseller was identified by predictive insights from the business, which were then combined with historical data.
Strong visibility with lower costs
The insights gained in the Shopping Lab about funnelling search terms and improving the bidding strategy were first put into practice and tested on Under Armour’s Dutch website. After just one month, positive results clearly emerged. “Through our improved funnelling, we achieved an almost complete share of possible impressions – 99.5% – for our branded search terms, ensuring that we reach all athletes searching for Under Armour sports performance apparel and footwear”, Lauren observes. “This wasn’t possible with the previous structure.” In addition, costs fell by 20%, while sales rose 20% and return on ad spend increased by 88%. Thanks to these fantastic performance outcomes and the significantly improved insights, the brand immediately transferred the new campaign structure to its UK and German ecommerce websites.