HUGO BOSS is a luxury brand that sells premium fashion and accessories for men and women. The company owns more than 1,000 shops and operates an online store active in 11 markets. While traditionally the brand’s media mix emphasised beautiful ads in premium magazines targeting a mostly male audience, since 2010 the emphasis has shifted to digital. Today HUGO BOSS invests heavily in online, including search and display ads on Google, YouTube advertising, social media, newsletters and premium website placements.

The digital marketing team is constantly refining the media mix by trying to identify the right channels to reach specific target audiences and communicate a luxurious, premium brand image. Recently, they designed a campaign using Google Search and Google Analytics with the aim of positioning BOSS as the leading global premium brand for business suits and men’s formal attire. The goals were to ‘own’ these strategic product segments in key European markets, drive online visits and generate online sales.

“We moved away from last-click measurement and invested in specific generic search terms to drive greater benefit to both our brand positioning and return on investment.”

Gerd von Podewils, Senior Vice President Global Communications, HUGO BOSS

The team believed that coverage of generic search terms such as ‘suits’ from a last click point of view did not make sense, as these terms tend to be a first touch point in the customer journey. This meant HUGO BOSS was only selectively present for these terms – when performance KPIs allowed for it – and missed out on the chance to ‘own’ these product areas. Therefore, the idea emerged to advertise for select terms in order to drive awareness and consideration for HUGO BOSS on Google.

Together with Google, HUGO BOSS defined a set of strategic search keywords to invest in, translated these for foreign markets and created specific ad texts in multiple languages. The campaign was designed to achieve high positions for strategic terms, especially on mobile, using a positive bid modifier.

HUGO BOSS then used Google Analytics to conduct two A/B geo experiments. In the first of these, the team stopped strategic advertisements in select regions, while keeping spend levels constant in other regions. In the second, they increased investment in select regions and again maintained constant spend levels in other regions. By comparing the effect of overall visits and conversion volume in these regions, HUGO BOSS found that almost all of the clicks generated through these campaigns were incremental, and the campaign generated a positive return on ad spend above and beyond the branding effects of being present on search terms in the category.

As a way to move away from simplistic last-click measurement, Google Analytics multichannel funnels enabled HUGO BOSS to measure the ads’ role in producing first touch points on the path to a purchase. “Using Google Analytics attribution, we found these strategic search terms to be mostly at the beginning of the customer journey, introducing the brand to consumers who later ended up buying through other entry points,” explains Gerd von Podewils, Senior Vice President Global Communications. “Using market research through Google’s geo experiments approach, we were able to prove an incremental effect of this keyword presence.”

Overall, Gerd von Podewils reports that the conversion rate has been better than other branding campaigns, with more nuanced tracking and greater detail than other campaigns, too. “During the test period, the campaigns generated 16.5 million impressions within a very relevant target audience thanks to our selection of search terms,” he says. The strategy has delivered on average 2 million impressions and 62,000 qualified visitors per month in three markets. What’s more, better measurement has captured a more accurate view of campaign’s value: for every last-click sale, the ads provided the first touch point in 2.4 additional sales, with 94% of the overall click volume found to be incremental. Overall, HUGO BOSS found that for every Euro spent on this campaign, it delivered five Euros of incremental revenue.