Programmatic for Ecommerce: Slashing CPA, Boosting ROAS for Ollie & Nic

By Reagan McNameeKing
Senior Content Marketing Manager
April 14, 2023

Family-run business Ollie & Nic had long focused on selling its fashionable products wholesale to other retailers. When COVID-19 hit, Ollie & Nic switched to an ecommerce model and began selling D2C. They prioritized digital advertising, which proved successful on Facebook but led to unpredictable costs. This realization led to Ollie & Nic seeking additional digital marketing options, and found Match2One. Our conversation with Josh Hill, Ollie & Nic’s director of ecommerce, explored the benefits of programmatic advertising and how it has helped Ollie & Nic achieve a x4.5 ROAS (return on ad spend) and an $11.6 CPA (cost per acquisition).

Transforming from B2B Wholesaler to D2C Online Retailer

Before the world turned upside down in 2020, the family-run business had primarily focused on selling Ollie & Nic’s products wholesale to other retailers. But when COVID suddenly shuttered shop doors, Ollie & Nic quickly pivoted to an e-commerce model and began selling directly to consumers. 

The many challenges of adopting a new business model soon made it clear that Ollie & Nic needed to invest in digital advertising. The business had never used paid search or social media ads to sell directly to consumers (DTC or D2C), but Josh soon launched ad campaigns on Google and Facebook.

The brand quickly saw results from paid social media advertising, especially on Facebook, the preferred social network for Ollie & Nic’s target demographic. However, advertising using Google Adwords was less fruitful, so Josh rerouted ad budget to Facebook. Ollie & Nic also strategically leveraged its first-party data to better target their campaigns. 

After initial success advertising on Facebook, Ollie & Nic hit a roadblock after the holiday shopping season. Just as Ollie & Nic was preparing to scale up digital promotions, their Facebook ad costs “essentially doubled,” says Josh. “Our Facebook CPMs doubled, so my ad spend doubled as well.”

The shock of much-higher digital ad costs was an important learning experience for Ollie & Nic, which realized their reliance on Facebook left them exposed to unpredictable costs. This realization led Josh to seek alternative digital marketing options to diversify Ollie & Nic’s approach to paid media.

Programmatic Advertising Comes to Shopify

While considering different avenues of promoting Ollie & Nic online, Josh had a conversation with a friend who introduced the idea of programmatic advertising. Josh started looking into programmatic display ads and stumbled upon Match2One right as the platform’s new Shopify integration launched. Match2One, a part of Verve Group, was the first programmatic tool to build an app for ecommerce sellers to install directly from the Shopify app store.

Josh launched Ollie & Nic’s first programmatic campaign less than a week after finding Match2One. According to Josh, “candidly, it actually was a very easy setup and I didn’t have to do much.” Since Ollie & Nic’s programmatic journey began, they’ve focused on using Match2One to run ROAS-based retargeting campaigns to drive conversions and sales. 

For Ollie & Nic, KPIs that matter most are return on ad spend (ROAS), click-through rate (CTR), and cost per acquisition (CPA).

The analytics features within Match2One have made it easy for Josh to prioritize where to place resources – both time and budget. This creates efficiencies that make a big difference when running an ecommerce business with only two full-time employees.

Set It and Forget It

While Facebook ads and email marketing remain important to Ollie & Nic’s overall digital marketing strategy, adding programmatic campaigns has proven to be easy and effective. Better still, Match2One’s machine learning optimizes campaigns so they become even more effective over time. According to Josh, running ROAS-based campaigns has become a seamless part of Ollie & Nic’s business:

Josh Hill, director of e-commerce at Ollie & Nic, an online Shopify retailer that now uses programmatic advertising for ecommerce.

“It’s been quite nice just to set that ROAS campaign, let the AI do its work, and just leave it. Then I come and check in about every other week to see how it’s doing. This gives Match2One time to learn and then I can make changes if needed.

I’ve been very happy with the results–so much so that I’ve just been letting it be. I update our creative in Match2One as and when I change our messaging. It’s been very hassle-free for me.”

– Josh Hill, Director of Ecommerce at Ollie & Nic

Key Marketing Tools for Shopify Sellers

While all businesses can benefit from programmatic advertising, ecommerce advertisers like Ollie & Nic rely on these Match2One features to run successful campaigns for their Shopify store:

  • Optimizing campaigns on ROAS, not just budget caps
  • Real-time analytics
  • User-friendly interface
  • Smarter targeting through machine learning
  • Intuitive banner creation tools

Programmatic Advertising Campaign Results

What do campaign metrics actually mean? Using industry-specific benchmarks for retail/ecommerce digital marketing, Ollie & Nic’s programmatic advertising campaigns cost up to 82% less per conversion.

Meta & Google
% difference
46% lower CPA
Google Search
74% lower CPA
Google Display Network
82% lower CPA

Retail & Ecommerce Industry Advertising Benchmarking Sources: Emplify, Wordstream, Brafton

Beyond the success of retargeting campaigns, programmatic advertising has also been a brand builder and prospecting tool for Ollie & Nic:

“We’ve definitely seen success in having our adverts and our brand on websites outside the walled garden of Facebook. Really, it’s the Daily Mails of the world where we’ve really tapped into a customer that we previously might not have. So that’s been really good for us.”

Marketing Best Practices for Ecommerce Shops

Small and medium-sized businesses like Ollie & Nic know how to make the most of limited resources.

Resource allocation – whether it’s time, budget, or inventory – comes down to prioritization. We asked Josh to share a few words of wisdom for fellow ecommerce businesses. Josh recommended identifying and committing to one or a few key products and scaling up on those products’ success. For example, Ollie & Nic has a top-selling handbag, so Josh makes sure they invest in plenty of inventory.

His next digital campaign then promotes that same handbag – the investments in inventory and ads create synergies that drive sales.

What’s Next for Ollie & Nic

Having weathered the pandemic and transition to DTC ecommerce, the future is bright for Ollie & Nic.

With programmatic advertising now an important, high-ROAS tactic in the company’s marketing mix, Josh says Ollie & Nic hopes to build up their team. He’s also planning on increasing the brand’s organic content on social, web, and email channels.

This story originally appeared here on Match2One’s site. Match2One is part of Verve Group.

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