In the crowded meal-kit delivery sector, the start-up business Plated wanted to expand its customer reach outside of its usual acquisition channels of social, search, and display. This native ad case study looks at how they ran A/B testing to optimise content on native ad platforms, getting in a 12% jump in new sign-ups.

Native ad case study: Plated optimises its content marketing to reduce customer acquisition costs

Case study summary

  • Meal kit delivery firm wanted to reach customers in ‘consumption mode’ at top the purchase funnel
  • Found that press coverage drove higher quality audience to its site
  • Used native ad technology to optimise creative content featured on premium publishers
  • Trial showed best keywords and images that worked across desktop and mobile
  • Rigorous testing and optimisation resulted in a 75% drop in CPA and 12% rise in sign-ups

Challenge

How do you reach people in ‘consumption mode’ just when they’re thinking about what to buy? Meal kit delivery start-up Plated was experimenting across all kinds of customer acquisition channels, including Facebook, Google ads and display ads to reach people thinking about cooking and home ingredient delivery.

The team discovered that “organic” content (such as press coverage) often drove the most interested and knowledgeable consumers to their site, where they could sign up to use the service.

Solution

Plated worked on a native content strategy to engage people already thinking about home cooking and meal delivery. The content would push the brand’s story and call to action (sign-ups) on premium publishers, such as Business Insider and Eater around the web and reach their target audience when they’re in “content consumption” mode.

What did they test?

Partnering with native ad technology firm Taboola, the teams used A/B testing to analyse hundreds of different content iterations, showcasing a variety of

  • Different article headlines
  • Different thumbnail images
  • Different content sources

An example of Plated's native content

Insights

The trial revealed specific keywords that resonated most with Plated’s target audience, as well as stylised, close-up product shots that performed best across both desktop and mobile platforms.

Using these “best practices” as a creative guide, the team optimised towards a variety of goals, such as increasing click-through rate (CTR) and lowering cost-per-click (CPC), before focusing on driving conversions. Rigorous testing and optimization around this goal resulted in a 75% saving in cost pre acquisition (CPA).

Plated uncovered new content strategy ideas from the analytics, which found that positive third-party media coverage performed as well as, or better than, Plated’s own blog content. Data further revealed that many premium sites were top referring publishers of the content around the web.

Results

Plated’s campaigns generated over 1 billion impressions in the first month alone on the premium publisher platforms. This scale and increased focus on conversions, has led to a 12% jump in new customer sign-ups, and over 3.5 million total clicks.

Matt Kerestesy, Director of Paid Media, at Plated, said that what was important for them was: “the flexibility to test and optimize toward different goals as our priorities changed, and ultimately generating entirely new strategies to help drive sales.”

Why it matters

These insights pointed the firm to optimize toward promoting “trusted sources,” and also working with successful publishers on creating additional content to share across Taboola’s network, driving more high-quality conversions.

Testing and optimising content is often overlooked by marketers. Plated showed how this attention to detail and rigour can pay off and boost purchase intent. As people get more digitally savvy, customers are increasingly looking towards brands as publishers, selling life experiences as much as products and services. Native advertising, when used right, can help brands fulfil this role. It works for brands large and small, and the insights from Plated could be relevant for any marketer.

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