How Nestlé and Tesco sold out of products after running data-led campaigns

Nestlé sold out of Cetaphil on its own website after running ads programmatically
Nestlé sold out of Cetaphil on its own website after running ads programmatically

Nestlé and Tesco sold out of products, or were unable to fulfil online orders, after running ads that were bought using automated and data-led ad technology.

If you have been charging a ‘mood board agency’ £25,000 for lies then I am sorry

You can’t often get through a marketing conference without a panel of experts waxing lyrical about the benefits of buying ads programmatically. Rarely, however, do you get solid evidence of the ‘right person, right time, right message’ that is decreed on stages so often.

During a panel at Jellyfish’s Digital Journeys conference in Brighton today, Nestlé, MailOnline and Jellyfish gave examples where this automated data-driven approach can sell-out products by targeting the right person.

Nestlé UK’s digital lead Gawain Owen discussed how the company sold out of a hand cream by mixing quick human reaction with technology and data targeting. Owen himself spotted an article on the Daily Mail one morning about its hand cream brand Cetaphil. He then tasked his agency and the publisher to not sell any other inventory around the article (this has now been lifted, with ads being served normally, as Clarins was being served against the article when we took the screengrab) and instead place ads programmatically on behalf of the brand.

"We had someone at the MailOnline running around saying ‘don’t sell the inventory, Nestlé are asking for yield management they will pay for it’. We had a nine times higher click-through rate and it was an e-commerce campaign but we couldn’t fulfill it and had to send people to Amazon," he said.

He was arguing the case for putting greater money behind programmatic for less ads served, the theory being that you pay more for more effective advertising.

His argument was echoed by MailOnline programmatic account director Alanna Tyminski, who said that a campaign MailOnline had run for Tesco’s Florence & Fred brand, based around an insight from Google Analytics that faux fur was trending as a topic, which led to the brand needing to turn off the campaign as all faux fur items sold out. The campaign was not bought programmatically but had data and real-time applications on data insights at its heart.

In terms of data, Owen said a benefit to using programmatic was the honesty of data, which had started to deliver truths about brands that even the brand managers didn't want to know.

"Don’t do it if you don’t want negative information back. For Maggi [chicken seasoning bags] the brand honestly thought ABC1 mums was the target audience. We traded ads programmatically and found that it needed to be targeting Jeremy Kyle, Candy Crush mums. The brand cannot accept that but the data will prove that. If you have been charging a ‘mood board agency’ £25,000 for lies then I am sorry," he added.


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