DSW: DSW Cross-Screen Campaign

Campaign Summary

DSW performed a cross-screen analysis of its customers to develop and optimize a targeted programmatic mobile campaign.


Objective and Context:

In 2014, DSW sought to use digital tactics to drive new customers into its U.S. stores and to increase sales. With three audience segments identified, DSW needed to target efficiently across three campaigns, spanning from August, 2014 to January, 2015: “Fall and Holidays,” “Fall Grand Openings,” and “Luxury Line.”

For these campaigns, DSW had three key performance indicators to meet:

  • Click through Rate: 0.1 percent
  • Cost per landing page: $8
  • Video Click Rate: 70 percent

Target Audience:

DSW had three identified target audiences in the US market for its series of campaigns:

  • Shoe Fanatic (female, 25 to 54): A fashion forward female who looks to her favorite digital properties to stay in-the-know on the latest trends and designers.
  • Multi-Category (female, 25 to 54): Multi-tasker/head of household who continues to keep up with the latest trends for her and her family in the midst of a busy life.
  • Man in the House (male-skewing, 25 to 54): The style-conscious male of the household who either buys the trends/brands he likes or has his significant other buy it for him.

Creative Strategy:

DSW has an e-commerce business, but drives most of its sales through its stores. As a result, it is more difficult to track and optimize digital advertising strategies.  Essentially, DSW needed to find a way for its digital strategy to push the most relevant audience into its stores to drive sales. DSW developed a way to programmatically target its multiple audiences across all of their devices, with a focus on mobile cross-device tracking.

The first hurdle in this strategy was how to find DSW target audiences on their mobile devices. To do this, the brand developed a cross-screen test that matched online cookies to user ID’s on mobile phones. The goal was to match activity from the target audiences online with activity of the same users on their mobile phones. DSW was able to then develop a programmatic strategy to target efficiently and effectively the appropriate audiences for the brand in real time on their mobile devices.

By developing a model to find users who were more likely to buy online, DSW improved online metrics such as site engagement and ROI. In addition, geo-fencing around DSW stores was used to drive people into the stores when they were nearby.


Overall Campaign Execution:

The cross-screen campaign was the first time the brand married digital and mobile customer data to better identify, target, and cater to its most valuable customers.

Mobile Execution:

The campaign strategy was focused on maximizing retargeting to ensure media was served only to the most engaged audience. This strategy was intensified by partnering with multiple ad networks to leverage their proprietary data to drive site engagement.

The offline ROI study (cross-screen test) allowed DSW to optimize the campaign based on the segments that were producing the most efficient cost per landing page visits, as well as those that were driving the highest site engagement and converting online.

The overall budget for the three campaigns that DSW ran in 2014 was $2.71 million with 70 percent of it being allocated specifically to mobile.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)


This strategy focused on efficiently targeting specific users across all digital screens. However, the mobile screen was integral to meeting DSW’s goals, particularly in the aspect of driving traffic to the stores when users were nearby.


DSW's 2014 sales topped $2.3 billion, a 5 percent increase from the prior year. DSW's marketing expenses totaled $56.2 million, $55.9 million, and $50.9 million in fiscal years 2014, 2013, and 2012 respectively. In 2014, the chain opened 30 new stores, including its first in Canada, with an ultimate goal of 450 to 500 stores.

According to Euromonitor International, the US footwear market grew by only 2 percent in 2014, with sports/performance footwear continuing to trend as the most popular choice across both men and women.

Overall, results were positive, with a 300 percent lift in conversion reported from the Cross Screen test:

  • Overall CTR was .16 percent (KPI was .1%)
  • Cost per Landing Page was $5 (KPI was $8)
  • Offline ROI: $13 overall

Market Impact:

Because of the success of DSW’s first mobile programmatic campaign, the brand began to look at its target audiences as one more continuous group rather than three static groups. Breaking away from segmenting their customers into the three target groups cut back on the overlap of targeting. The target group was simply adults 25-54 rather than the predefined segments that DSW previously created.

Categories: Brand Awareness, Programmatic | Industries: Retail, Apparel, Footwear | Objectives: Brand Awareness, Programmatic | Awards: Bronze Winner, Finalist

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