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Extreme Makeover: Dynamic Product Ads

Customizing the creative of product feed and catalog ads as a new performance lever.
Jeremy Bloom

While there’s industry panic about Apple vs. Facebook vs. Google vs. Amazon (insert the “please recycle” logo and pardon the interruption from Netflix bingeing...swish - FAANG layup and haven’t even completed the first sentence), let's address something that’s near and dear to digital retailer’s hearts but always seems to get backseat middle in the Honda Odyssey, surrounded by soccer cleats and individual packaged goods from Costco: the good ‘ol digital product catalog. 


If you just rolled your eyes, I get it - catalogs aren't ~fun~ (yet). There are lots of sectors in industries that aren’t sexy (catheters, stints, I can go on…), but they do the work and keep customers happy (in some cases: alive) and marketers employed. Many might not realize this, but catalog-based ads are the workhorse behind digital commerce. Those that have acknowledged this trend are licking their fingers, quietly sitting in that back row.


Within the majestic walled garden some call “Facebook”, catalog ads (aka DPA/Dynamic Product Ads) are the fastest-growing ad type by spend. Wait...what? Didn’t you think it was video? Nope. 


In Q3 '20, DPA spending eclipsed $10.5bn (annualized), representing 40% YoY growth. Comp that to FB's $75bn total ARR (10% YoY growth) according to a former employee at FB.


Right now, over 50%+ of global ecommerce spend goes to DPA.


This is a multi-billion dollar sector of the digital advertising industry that major players have quietly ignored, but with privacy and tracking being regulated...expect some MAJOR refreshers in this quiet lil corner of the biz.


We've all seen DPA before. There’s a product, a white background, and it’s not too sexy. Frankly, it’s embarrassing and ugly  . There, I said it. These ads are brutal to look at but stupid easy to setup…


  1. Go into your favorite social media app
  2. Plug-in your catalog feed, select your audience, & turn it on (legit takes a minute)
  3. Performance is top tier bc this is where the social media algos tend to be the strongest (matching product types w/ individuals). As those still licking their fingers know, there’s minimal oversight required;  it just rips on its own, consistently


Here are some examples from two household names - 80% of you have purchased from one of these retailers (FACT!). 


Here’s where reality comes into play...With iOS14 changes, catalog ads/dynamic product ads are more important than ever, speeding up the already wild growth most brand marketer’s scoff at when talking to their performance allies. 


As you’re quickly picking up on the beautiful gardens’ walls getting higher and higher, your favorite social app is tripling down on Shops/ecommerce. Why do you think they’re doing this? “Money money money….MONEY”~ to centralize the entire buying journey, within their platform, so they can retain attribution data. THE HOLY GRAIL!!!


I.e. Facebook Shops = catalogs, making DPA even easier + more effective → more time in app, more money being spent in FB vs other platforms….come back for another visit soon and keep on spending. BAM! 


The big issue with DPA is that, although it performs, it looks like the floor of that minivan that hasn’t been cleaned up since before the pandemic...well before the pandemic.. It’s unattractive, bland, boring, and it smells.


Historically (and still to this day), the ad creative for a DPA is just the product image from a retailer’s product page. Performance marketers are rolling their eyes, again, and that’s great. You, Ms. Performance Marketer, know that most platforms and agencies haven’t been spending too much time customizing the creative because it’s all based on a source feed....just products on white backgrounds…dull, boring, not engaging for the user, and a waste of ad spend. Ughhhh...


Well, the Marpipe team didn't like that. During a recent meeting, someone said “What if we made DPA actually not look like crap?” What they really meant was..."What if Marpipe can improve the user experience, drive a higher CTR for the marketer, and help the social platform drive that attribution they’re craving to own?


 Zoom high-fives and slack emojis were hitting an all time high that day. Lemme tell ya. You’d think this same group of digital change-agents would have created a rubenesque purple unicorn as their company’s mascot. We did. Her name is Pipette. 


The design platform at the core of Marpipe’s functionality, which has the rendering superpowers that we developed for Creative Testing, is now also being used to create Enriched Catalogs. “What are Enriched Catalogs?” asks Ms. Performance Marketer. 


Simple. For the first time, you can now have full design freedom over what your DPA looks like, giving you a totally new lever for performance and enabling new possibilities.


We just finished piloting this methodology with 3 hot DTC brands that have catalog sizes ranging from 500 products - 1,000,000 products.


So, what happened? How’d Marpipe help? Every single Enriched Catalog client  saw a performance improvement of 50%+ within 30 days of launching better-designed DPA. Here’s a screenshot from one of our partner’s sales metrics: 


To be clear, Marpipe’s Enriched Catalogs helped me 3x my ROAS from 1.4 to 4.5. It’s dope. It works. It pays for itself 10x. What more could a marketer ask for?” - Andrew (one of our beta testers) 


Guess what….it's now open for all to try! Book a demo below.


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