April 14, 2011, 10:26 AM

Ad experiments pay off for Ice.com, an IRCE speaker says

The jewelry e-retailer remodels its marketing mix and measurement approach.

Lead Photo

Pinny Gniwisch

Until recently, Ice.com took a narrow approach to defining its advertising return on investment. The online jewelry retailer measured the results of each campaign it ran and didn’t give any consideration to how one campaign might impact another in bringing about a sale. That all changed three months ago when Ice.com switched tacks and began measuring across campaigns, seeking a more accurate way to gauge return on ad spend.

Pinny Gniwisch, Ice.com’s executive vice president of marketing, will talk about the retailer’s experience in shifting marketing ROI measures at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2011 this June in a session entitled “Marketing Benchmark: What’s the right amount to spend on what.”

“We’d measure a campaign based on whether it created the sales or the conversion we wanted. If it didn’t, we dropped it,” Gniwisch says. “Today we look at how one channel affects the other.”

For example, he says Ice.com will pump up spending on retargeting banner ads for two days and then also measure how natural and paid search traffic performed for several days afterward. “We can see how natural and paid search get affected by these buys,” he says.

He says changes in consumer behavior prompted the e-retailer to look at new attribution models. Ice.com was seeing display ads placed on major web sites like MSN and Yahoo becoming less effective at driving sales as consumers began to respond to different ad platforms, such as daily deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Gniwisch says Ice.com now continuously experiments with different ad models to understand how the range of its advertising investments impact behavior, and that’s helping the retailer determine how to allot its yearly marketing budget. He says he uses an analytics dashboard to monitor advertising performance, which he set up using Omniture tools. Omniture is part of Adobe Systems Inc.  

Gniwisch says IRCE conference attendees can learn from Ice.com’s experimentation and apply it to their own work. “The lesson is to reexamine everything and take nothing for granted,” he says. “As we test we learn things that surprise us and throw us for a loop. Experimentation is necessary.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Gniwisch to speak because as founder and executive vice president of marketing for Ice.com, he is responsible for developing strategic alliances with such leading Internet companies as Yahoo, AOL, MSN, MyPoints and Modern Bride. His knowledge of the jewelry business and his marketing insights have been a big part of making Ice.com one of the leading jewelry sites on the Internet.

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