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Case study

New Look goes beyond performance with the Microsoft Audience Network

February 24, 2023
New Look Logo.

Driving increased investment in digital

The number one priority for any performance marketing campaign is that it performs. That means delivering tangible improvements on the metrics that matter, and a quantifiable uplift for the bottom line. However, just because a campaign is judged on its volume and cost of impressions, clicks, and conversions doesn’t mean they’re the only things that matter. For the fashion retailer, New Look, performance marketing is performing in more ways than it used to—and delivering on a far broader range of objectives.

New Look, which operates more than 300 high-street retail stores in the UK and Ireland, has been quick to respond to a shift to digital shopping that started during the pandemic—but is continuing long after it. As the brand’s Paid Search Manager, Thomas Charlwood, explains, this is driving increased investment in digital marketing—and a broader role for his campaigns.

My previous company was an early adopter of the Microsoft Audience Network, and it’s very attractive to have such high-quality placements and levers you can pull to make sure you’re presenting the brand in the exact right way.

— Thomas Charlwood, Paid Search Manager at New Look

Changing hearts and minds while driving clicks

“The past couple of years have really shown the potential of strong digital marketing activity—and it’s driven a mindset change from thinking about these campaigns in siloes to thinking about them as part of the overall strategy,” he says. “Customer acquisition is a secondary key performance indicator (KPI) for us alongside the more traditional performance metrics, but there’s a definite opportunity in reaching new customers, speaking to them in a different way, and potentially amending perceptions they might have had of our brand. There’s a definite belief in our team that the focus should be on prospecting rather than just remarketing.”

If performance campaigns are to play this kind of upper-funnel role for a brand, they can’t just be answerable for numbers alone. Control over how and where an ad appears becomes very important. Thomas knew that he could find such control with the Microsoft Audience Network and worked with his agency, Crealytics, to build synergies between touchpoints along the funnel on Microsoft Advertising.

Styling ads for the right impression

“My previous company was an early adopter of the Microsoft Audience Network, and it’s very attractive to have such high-quality placements and levers you can pull to make sure you’re presenting the brand in the exact right way,” he explains. “The brand safety piece is obviously important to us and the reassurance that our ads aren’t going to appear somewhere we don’t want them to—however, the creative control matters, too. With Microsoft, you get previews that give you real clarity over how your ad will display. You know that automation is playing its part—but you also feel in control.”

That creative control has enabled Thomas and the performance marketing team to do far more with the Microsoft Audience Network. “We’re already using our image-based native ads to align with new influencer campaigns, editorial coverage, and holiday ads like Black Friday,” says Thomas. “We’ve also been experimenting with using blog-style content and listicles, which perform really, really well. For us, the Microsoft Audience Network is all about being able to drive exposure to new people and chat about our proposition in an attractive way with high-quality control. We can do that and still give people in the business the confidence that it all works.”

A flair for performance

That confidence has been fueled by the results New Look is generating. Comparing 2022 with 2021, the number of impressions driven by the brand’s feed-based ads on the Microsoft Audience Network is up 200% year-over-year (YoY), while clicks are up 130%, driving a powerful return on advertising spend (ROAS) of 740%. The impact of the Microsoft Audience Network in combination with strong shopping campaigns has meant the overall New Look account has increased its efficiency, driving more clicks at lower cost. This has seen overall ROAS for the year go from 730% in 2021 to 1170% in 2022.

This is proof of what can happen when you push beyond business as usual in search of new sources of performance. “As a business, we’re always looking beyond the scope of what we’re currently doing and mining opportunities to maximize our exposure,” says Thomas. “The real benefit of performance marketing is that you can do all of that while still quantifying the direct benefits to the business.”

For us, the Microsoft Audience Network is all about being able to drive exposure to new people and chat about our proposition in an attractive way with high-quality control. We can do that and still give people in the business the confidence that it all works. The great working relationships between our agency, Crealytics, the Microsoft Advertising team and the team here at New Look, allows us to be agile and to keep innovating ahead of our competitive set.

— Thomas Charlwood, Paid Search Manager at New Look

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