Say Goodbye To The Uncontrollable Campaign Performance: How Unilever Optimized The Performance of It’s Digital Advertising Campaign by China’s Unique Ad Serving Technology



The flourish of Internet creates opportunities to advertisers as well as challenges. Advertisers have to be smarter to maximize their return on investment and the campaign performance while there are plentiful availability of device types, and ad inventory of unknown nature. Thanks to the advancement of advertising technology, China’s unique ad serving technology now enables advertisers and agencies to gain autonomous control over the media placement, target reach and optimization through this transparent automatic operation system. “Passing-back serving” is the unique ad serving technique only available in China, which empowers campaigns to be seen by the right target audience with the desired frequency only by pass-back the unwanted inventory back to the media.

Unilever used to advertise on video sites heavily. However, they have been suffering from low efficiency on reaching the core target audience. In the launch of an advertising campaign of Clear, Unilever’s shampoo brand, last quarter, it was intending to launch two product lines for male and female simultaneously. In normal circumstances, only one advertising copy can be delivered at a time, different target groups will watch the same advertising copy. But for this campaign, Unilever wanted to deliver the creative of male product to the male audience and female product ad to the female group. Mass personalization becomes the goal of Unilever’s marketing communications strategy.

Multiple media platforms would be used for this campaign. However, it seems it was not possible to control the cross-platform advertising frequency exposure. This duplication of exposure created huge wastage. Besides, Unilever might lose control over the ad placement process, and its target reach effectiveness might be limited.

Creative copy rotation, target reach and control over exposure frequency were the three big challenges in this campaign.

The golden triangle of Accuen, the strategic planning agency, AdMaster, the marketing data technologist, together with Tencent as the data provider contributed to the success of Unilever’s launch of Clear shampoo in China

Accuen was the strategic planning agency of this Clear campaign.  They had a vision of maximizing the effectiveness of individual impressions through programmatic media buying strategy. AdMaster contributed to the success of this campaign in August by using its advertising serving platform, SmartServing™, to match with Tencent’s consumer data under the absolute safe and reliable environment of privacy and security. AdMaster’s SmartServing™ enabled Unilever to take control of the placement process directly and thus Unilever has the right to choose the best premium ad inventory by pushing back the unwanted inventory.

There were three key processes of the campaign strategically designed by Accuen and empowered by AdMaster’s SmartServing™ platform with the support of Tencent’s consumer data. Firstly, the system made judgment on the cross-media exposure frequency of target audience, inventory addressing to over-exposed target audience would be passed back to media automatically. The system also returned the inventory to media, which could not reach to the desired target audience.  No media placement would take place. Secondly, the system would deliver the right creative copy to the respective target group according to Tencent’s consumer data on gender and age, which was generated on real time base. Thirdly, the system could create instant judgment on the exposure data of the viewers and thus display the appropriate creative copy with the desired frequency capping accordingly.

Consequently, AdMaster’s SmartServing™ technology made different creative copy exposed to different target groups possible. With China-unique pass-back serving, the frequency for target group to watch the campaign was now under good control, even when it was across different media platforms. The over-delivery rate was reduced by half on PC and was reduce drastically on mobile device. Compared with the practice without using AdMaster’s SmartServing™ platform, the target audience precision reach was increased by 24% .

Ricky Yang, Vice President of Data Solution, AdMaster, comments, “we are very happy to deliver the campaign performance for Unilever. It maximized the individual impression effectiveness through data-driven advertising technology. This is a big step of moving from mass marketing to mass personalization. We are honored to work with Accuen for such an insight strategy. Thanks for the trust of Tencent to provide us the most valuable consumer data in a privacy-safe environment. We strongly believe that ad serving technology with smart strategic plan under the leadership of visionary client will be the success driver of any advertising campaign.”


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