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When it comes to results, Bing Ads is no novelty

  Article , Retail , Success stories

Agency helps client raise returns 20% with Bing Ads

The party goes digital

When you run a novelty company, every day is a party. From supplies and favors to decorations and seasonal merchandise, the tools of your trade are as celebratory as they are smile-inducing. But that doesn’t mean that the day-to-day is a piece of cake.

Century Novelty was started in 1951, in my grandfather’s basement,” explains Kyle Madigan, the company’s president. “We began supplying traveling carnivals with their redemption prizes — think stuffed animals when you win a carnival game — but since then, we have retailed many different products, from bingo supplies to Halloween costumes.”

Although the company is more than 60 years old, Madigan helped Century Novelty get out of the brick-and-mortar business and into the burgeoning internet ahead of much of the industry. “We now primarily sell party supplies, which is a very competitive market, boasting some large names such as Party City and Oriental Trading,” he says. “We closed our retail store in 2004 and began selling exclusively online.”

As its web sales matured, Century Novelty realized that it needed assistance taking its search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to the next level. If it was going to stay in step with the “big boys,” it would need a company like CommerceHub on its side. For more than 17 years, the New York-based company has helped major retailers and brands grow their online businesses. CommerceHub’s integrated cloud-based commerce solutions enable merchants to drive demand through all major direct-to-consumer and wholesale channels, seamlessly expand their assortment and enable faster, on-time customer delivery.

Bing conversions deliver a greater average order value than most other channels we advertise on, which directly and positively impacts our return on ad spend.

“We have big clients and big budgets, and we are product-to-retail focused,” says Elizabeth Marsten, director of paid search at CommerceHub. “We have a network of over 9,000 brand suppliers and distributors across the U.S., which allows our retailers to expand their inventory virtually.”

“We have a very long-standing relationship with CommerceHub, which actually began with Mercent,” says Madigan. CommerceHub acquired Mercent in early 2015 to help retailers not only efficiently deliver products to consumers, but also drive demand for those products through critical direct-to-consumer channels. “We originally partnered with them to help facilitate some of our marketplace selling efforts, as well as campaigns through comparison shopping engines. We ended up needing an SEM solution, and turned to them for help.”

Discussing the dynamics behind their partnership, the Century Novelty president explains, “They have great people over at CommerceHub that genuinely care about your success. They also excel at identifying new opportunities — and getting you into them as early as possible.”

Shopping for better PPC

Over the summer, those new campaigns were embraced by Century Novelty and phased in gradually as a test measure. “We began running the new Bing Shopping Campaigns in August 2015, and our performance marketing team at CommerceHub ran them concurrently alongside the original Product Ads campaigns to ensure we were not losing any opportunity while the new campaigns gained traction,” explains Madigan. “And then the CommerceHub team began strategically phasing out the Product Ads campaigns over time, as the performance data indicated they should.”

“I’m really excited this year about Bing Shopping Campaigns being launched,” Marsten says when asked why she advises Century Novelty and other clients to go in this direction. “I’ve seen some really good returns, some good results on that as far as volume, conversion rate and cost per acquisition. And so, what I’m encouraging clients to do is make sure they get those transitioned now — get those up and running — and pause those old Product Ads campaigns.”

In a brief period of time, the results were clear: Bing Shopping Campaigns offered a tremendous upside. Now, Century Novelty can’t imagine life without it.

“Due to the performance we have enjoyed in the first two months of Q4 [October and November 2015], we have completely phased out the original Product Ads campaigns in favor of Bing Shopping Campaigns,” Madigan says emphatically. “Our bottom line has improved dramatically the last two months.”

And the numbers tell the full story. Among the results:

Table showing: decrease in cost per order; increase in revenue, spend, orders, and cost per order.

“And the conversion rate is exactly the same,” Madigan adds. “Bing Shopping Campaigns are not only improving our bottom line, but we are also getting really great exposure and brand interaction with growth over the original Product Ads campaigns.”

To prove that point, CommerceHub once again ran the numbers. And the results are enough to make any company president smile, regardless of whether they’re selling party favors, stocking stuffers or sprockets.

Table showing: decrease in average cost per click; increase in impressions, clicks, and click-through rate.

“And I get the best customer support from Bing Ads,” Marsten says of her efforts on behalf of CommerceHub. “Whether or not that’s from the rep for my agency, if I go on Twitter, email, call the 1-800 number — always.”

A personal stake

Such numbers are tremendous for any steward of a company, but when it’s a family business, there is much more at stake than a spreadsheet.

“I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, and after moving around the state a bit, I landed back in my hometown,” Madigan says. Of his life’s work and the pride of continuing to build on the efforts of his father and grandfather, Madigan adds, “I will be the third-generation owner/operator of Century Novelty. I have always had a good relationship with my father, and the sense of pride gained from continuing on the company meant a lot to me.”

From candy and costumes to gift bags and crafts, Century Novelty embraces orders both large and small. Whether you want sand art supplies for your child’s next birthday party, patriotic bunting for your front porch or ornaments for the Christmas tree, the site is a one-stop for those with party needs. And according to Madigan, interacting daily with people in a celebratory mood is a fun way to make a living.

“I always like seeing our products in use, so whenever I get the opportunity to do so, it's a good day,” he beams. “We sold a large amount of Santa hats to a university last fall, and I was able to watch their student section wear our products during a basketball game.”

With a laugh, he adds, “It’s hard to beat watching a basketball game during the work day!”
The extent of growth on Bing, year over year, has been downright incredible and outstanding.

Elizabeth Marsten
Director of Paid Search Elizabeth Marsten, CommerceHub
One such opportunity was Bing search advertising, and Madigan says that the positive results were evident very quickly. “We’re always looking to expand and grow our business online,” he reasons. “We found that with Bing’s increasing popularity as a search engine, and exposure to new online shoppers, our opportunity to expand and our growth have been exponential on Bing.”

Marsten’s paid search expertise had her team steering Century Novelty toward such opportunities. “I love the amount of control, and the speed with which you’re able to see if something’s working or not,” she explains. “In most cases, you’re able to figure out ‘Yeah, this is working,’ or ‘No, it’s not’ quickly — and from there, you can do something about it.”

“And I do like to count money,” she adds.

“The extent of growth on Bing, year over year, has been downright incredible and outstanding,” Madigan agrees. “And we especially like the growth experience with the newer Bing Shopping Campaigns.”

A merry future

The good news is Century Novelty’s business is on the upswing with Bing Ads, indicating plenty of Santa hat sales for years to come

“Looking at Q3 2014 versus Q3 2015, our revenue increased 177%, and our order volume increased 248%,” reports the president of the company with pride. “We are gaining greater branding and brand interactions as well, with our impressions increasing 402% and our click traffic increasing 247% year over year when you compare Q3s.”

And as Century Novelty continues to grow its business, Bing Ads promises to be there alongside it, every step of the way. “We really like the fact that the channel itself seems to be growing and providing more opportunity to increase our revenue each year,” says Madigan. “Also, Bing conversions deliver a greater average order value than most other channels we advertise on, which directly and positively impacts our return on ad spend.”

So, like any one of the two dozen different piñata varieties sold by Century Novelty (from Mickey Mouse to SpongeBob), Madigan is eager to continue filling his Bing Ads account with ad buys, confident that success will continue to spill out.

“With the help of our performance marketing team at CommerceHub we are able to see, based on the performance data, that we are doing really well advertising on Bing,” he says, looking to the future. “We have experienced great growth on the Bing channel, and we plan to continue investing more marketing dollars into advertising on Bing to capture even more great results.”

Keep reading

See a quick summary of how Century Novelty, with the help of CommerceHub and Bing Ads, took its search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to the next level.

  Download the infographic