Why Catalogs Apply Creative Elements Directly to DPA Ads

Learn about how applying creative elements directly to catalog and DPA ads is turning an already powerful ad type into a cash cow for retailers.
Jess Cook

Your catalog ads are probably one of the most vanilla parts of your marketing strategy — nothing fancy, but they get the job done.

But what if you could turn them into a serious, hot-fudge-sundae of sales? 

Enter enriched catalog creative.

Before and after GIF of DPA with and without enriched catalog creative
Enriched Catalogs let you apply creative elements directly to your catalog ads and DPA.

On the latest episode of Resting Ad Face, our VP of Performance Marketing, Susan Wenograd, and I discuss how applying creative elements (like branding cues, sale pricing, customer reviews, and more) directly to DPA is turning an already powerful ad type into a cash cow for retailers.

Here are some highlights:

Enriched catalog ads are an easy performance lever to pull

Enriched catalog creative allows you to optimize your product feed by redesigning the images used for your product SKUs. It’s possible to add backgrounds, icons, product reviews, and more

This does a handful of really important things:

  • Adds a layer of branding and positioning
  • Breaks you out of a sea of all-white carousels
  • Provides potential buyers with more information before their initial click

This all adds up to increased purchase intent when customers land on your product page, leading to a greater chance of conversion.

Even better, it works:

  • Mattress retailer Slumberland added branding and shipping offers to their DPA and saw 3x revenue with the same ad spend.
  • By displaying “free delivery” on their big ticket DPA ads, furniture retailer Raymour & Flanigan saw a $300 increase in average order value.
  • Adding customer reviews to their DPA creative resulted in a 127% increase in ROAS for men’s apparel brand Twillory.

Enriched catalog ads are a powerful remarketing tool

If someone has looked at a specific product on your site before, remarketing with an enriched catalog ad is a smart follow up. You can pair the item with any number of creative elements that might increase their chances of buying, like sale messaging, additional colors, and unique attributes and benefits. 

This is an especially powerful tactic around the holidays, as people “pre-shop” by browsing sites ahead of time before ultimately making a purchase decision. Here, you can hit your remarketing audience with Black Friday or Cyber Monday messaging and pricing to entice them to come back.

Enriched catalog ads are a must-have for commodity products

If there’s no visual point of differentiation built into your product — socks or t-shirts, for example — enriched catalogs can help call out its unique selling points.

  • What is your product made of?
  • Does it get great reviews?
  • Has it been featured in the press or on TikTok?
  • Is it on sale?

Questions like these can be answered by strategically applying creative to your DPA, giving potential buyers more reason to purchase.

For more, subscribe to Resting Ad Face on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform.


[00:00:05] Jess: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Resting Ad Face. I'm Jess Cook, Head of Content at Marpipe. 

[00:00:13] Susan: And I am Susan Wenograd, VP of Performance Marketing at Marpipe. 

[00:00:17] Jess: We are here today, we wanna talk about a little bit something different, something we haven't talked about yet but feels really, really timely going into the holiday season. Lots of sales coming up, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and that is your catalog ads. DPA, there's so many names.

[00:00:37] Susan: I know. 

[00:00:38] Jess: I think every platform has kind of their own little moniker.

[00:00:40] Susan: Yeah, they do. I was gonna say, they're kind of different depending on what platform you're on. 

[00:00:43] Jess: Yeah. Okay, So, we'll, we're gonna stick to catalog ads? 

[00:00:49] Susan: Yeah. Facebook, 

[00:00:50] Jess: For our purposes?

[00:00:50] Susan: Instagram. Yeah. I mean, and yeah. I mean, it could, it could power Snapchat. So basically, The ones that aren't Google. Google stays very boring. So [00:01:00] this, all of this advice today doesn't really apply to theirs cuz they won't let you do it. So.

[00:01:04] Jess: That's right. So, you know, forget them. But what we're talking about today, catalog ads, you know what they are. Everyone has seen them. Those are the little kind of, white scrolling carousel ads that pop up typically from a retailer, right?

[00:01:19] And so, you know, you're going through and all of a sudden there's this thing from, let's say, Nordstrom and has all of kind of their new fall merchandise. And you scroll and scroll and scroll and kind of see what they have. And, you know, we wanna talk about this because they've been around for a while.

[00:01:33] People have a ton of success with them in terms of you know, conversion and purchases. But they're kind of boring. They're like the vanilla ice cream of marketing, right? Yeah. Like, yeah, they're ice cream and they get the job done. But they could be cooler. 

[00:01:49] Susan: I think the, the first thing to touch on too is like, why are they typically so boring? 

[00:01:53] Jess: Yes. Let's hear it. 

[00:01:54] Susan: So it's, and a lot, I think that this, it's kind of one of those nitty gritty things that you don't really know unless you [00:02:00] worked extensively in it.

[00:02:01] It's always interesting when you work with brands to see who actually owns that part of it. So like a lot of times there will be a media buyer like me, like a me, right, where we're setting up, you know, DPA ads and the targeting and all that stuff, and we're just telling Facebook like, use this existing feed, right?

[00:02:20] So the feed is pushed in automatically in some fashion, usually by the site side. So normally there's, like, you know, an IT person, like a lot of times there are web people involved because it's taking what exists on your website and they're outputting it into fields that Facebook then receives. So a lot of times it's not the marketer that's doing that part.

[00:02:41] So it's this weird intersection. And Google is the same way actually, but it's this weird intersection of like site side people that are not marketers that handle all the technicalities with the website, pushing out this very technical product feed. That like then appears and then the marketer's like, "Okay, show it to these people."

[00:02:59] [00:03:00] So there's not really like a crossover between the creativity part of it, unless you sort of intercept it and say, "Hey, we want this to look different." It's just gonna output like the plain, white, boring background shots of what you have on your site. That's just usually how it winds up happening. It's one of those things I always tell people like, it's not really anybody's fault that DPAs tend to look boring.

[00:03:21] It's just one of those things that it gets passed from one team to another, and there's not really like a creative pass off like there isn't a traditional ad, right? It's like in those, there's a buyer, there's, you know, marketers, there's design people involved. This is way more of just like a technical product export that doesn't go through that creative process.

[00:03:38] So that's usually why they look a little bit plain. 

[00:03:42] Jess: That makes perfect sense. There's just not that middle man to like make it interesting. Right. Or woman. 

[00:03:48] Susan: Middle person. 

[00:03:49] Jess: Middle person.

[00:03:50] Susan: Yes. 

[00:03:51] Jess: Middle human. 

[00:03:53] Susan: Yeah. 

[00:03:54] Jess: But I think there's so many tools now, Marpipe included, that can like change that.

[00:04:00] So, you know, there are, there are options out there now to actually add a layer of creative on top of your DPA and that's really exciting cuz there's, there's a ton of benefits from that. One, it's a lot less boring. You're kind of breaking out of that sea of white. Two, it's branded.

[00:04:19] We, we have a customer, Jambys, who creates like athleisure wear for like, at home, like super comfy, comfy core, right? Yeah. Like super comfy core wear. And they wanted to show that they were very different. There's a ton of athleisure brands out there, and so they were able to apply a lot of really bright colors.

[00:04:41] They're they have like a lot of hlike cheeta print, zebra print, like they're very bold in their designs. And so, you know, they were able to add that to their, their DPA to help them kind of break out of that, like, Well, what are you all about? I can't really tell when the add is nothing but your product.

[00:04:59] And I [00:05:00] think the last thing is it increases intent because if you're able to give a little more information up front let's say a sale price or a, a discount, or even just some branding about what you're about, the intent of that person who taps or clicks on that ad is much higher than if they had no information at all.

[00:05:16] So yeah, it does a lot of heavy lifting and it's actually a really simple process. 

[00:05:22] Susan: Yeah, and I think I, the point that you made about being able to call out the brand benefits, I think is a big one because a lot of times either, you know, marketers put that into their, the ad itself, which, like we said, that that process doesn't happen.

[00:05:34] And so for DPAs, a lot of times as media people, we rely on the ad copy that we write to try and call that out, but it's like the visual's what gets their attention. So if it's this boring white background and or it's a product that like, you know, they, maybe they were on the site and they saw it and left and they missed, you know, one of the big selling points or whatever it is, relying on copy like that, the person's gonna stop and like expand the copy and read it [00:06:00] is a very tall order. So it's, it's kind of nice because it feels more like a real ad. I don't, I don't know what else. Yeah. But it feels more like a, an ad that people are accustomed to seeing, whereas like, you know, it, the DPAs don't have the ability to call out any of that stuff. And it's so easy to overlook because it's just plain white.

[00:06:18] So I, I like the ability like to be like, you know, a hundred percent cotton or made in the USA or free shipping or, you know, all that stuff that like, you'd have to bury in the copy otherwise gets to have its place on the visuals, just like a normal ad would. 

[00:06:31] Jess: Yeah.

[00:06:32] Susan: The other thing that I like is that, you know, the, the social proof aspect and the testimonial aspect is always a huge deal.

[00:06:40] Like just the whole UGC angle in general. And that's always missing from DPAs, right? It's like you have no choice but to just show boring corporate things, you know, so to speak. But that's one of the things that I like about, you know, dressing up the DPAs a little bit. Like you can put, you know, your average star rating or especially in the holiday season when you are 

[00:07:00] showing your ads to people that are not your normal buyer, cuz it's, you might, might be a women's thing that you're showing to a husband or a boyfriend or you know, whoever.

[00:07:08] You can put on the testimonials that are gonna make the most sense. So even though it's not a UGC ad, it's still showing the product, you're still bringing in that kind of social proof and FOMO aspect of like what people are saying about it, what the, you know, the star rating looks like. And that's something else that, you know, normally we'd have to rely on just putting it into text and it just loses something. When you type it into text, it's just not as compelling. It doesn't look as real because there's this disconnect between the product you're showing and then this testimonial that's up here somewhere. So being able to pair those two things together, I love, especially for the holiday season. 

[00:07:40] Jess: That five star icon now is such a universal measure of quality, like, just being able to put that out there is, is huge. We have a, a customer they were a customer in the past, Twillory, who they put one customer review and a five-star rating [00:08:00] on their DPA. Which obviously didn't have that before and saw 127% increase in ROAS, like 

[00:08:07] Susan: I believe it. 

[00:08:08] Jess: And that's all they added, right? I mean, it was just a little circle with that information in it. And so those little touches can really make a big difference in terms of, in terms of performance with the exact same spend. 

[00:08:19] Susan: I feel like tied to that too, it also lets you make more compelling sale messaging. Instead of just, you know, running your Black Friday sale with your UGC stuff, it's like you can make it where it's very, it's still very product focused, especially for remarketing on Black Friday, because then it's like these people have been to the site and a lot of times you'll see in the two weeks before Black Friday, like you get tons of traffic because people start making lists, but they don't buy. So you build up. And now, you know, with Apple, it's like who knows? Because , those are, you know, audiences are not as big as they used to be, but they're probably still gonna be sizable enough in the seven days beforehand that they'll be enough people on that 

[00:09:00] list that you're gonna wanna run remarketing to them.

[00:09:02] And so if you can make it stand out with like a Black Friday sale callout on the graphic itself, itself, but it's still focusing on the product they looked at, it's so much more powerful cuz it's like, here's this thing you just looked at, you're gonna recognize it. But also we have this sale and it's 50% off or whatever it is.

[00:09:18] So I like. I also like the ability to be very overt in your sale messaging without having to like build new creatives from the ground up for every single product you wanna show. 

[00:09:27] Jess: Yeah. I think one thing we haven't touched on yet is, is like how it works, right? And, and I think what you're talking about, the fact that it's so easy to do this without having to create new creative. This is the reason why, because if you already have, let's say, like a product information management or inventory management type system you know, hooked up to your, your Shopify or whatever your actual e-commerce platform is, you have already done the hard work. Like all of the information about your product is already in there.

[00:09:59] The, the [00:10:00] you know, MSRP, the color, sizing all of those things, right? You can then get really creative with like the columns and information you put in those systems. Now layer on creative. So sale price you know if it's available now, if there's free shipping, any of that information again is just going to increase that intent because you're just applying more information to the ad itself before someone even clicks in.

[00:10:32] So, yeah. It's super simple. It's really like a plug and play system. Mm-hmm. And the returns are incredible. 

[00:10:41] Susan: Yeah. And it's, when you look at like so many brands that don't bother to do it. It's a picture of like black socks from Skechers and like, this is a multi-billion dollar brand and like that's the DPA they're running. And it's like, it's so ugly and you can barely tell that it socks. It just looks like a black glob until you really look and it's just, [00:11:00] there are so many brands that don't do it.

[00:11:01] It's, it's like such an easy win that everybody just overlooks. Cuz again, they're just plugging and playing. Also because you don't really preview it. It's like you forget how some of this stuff renders. There's nothing else with it, you know? 

[00:11:15] Jess: And what a commodity product. Like you need something more. Like, why would I buy a pair of socks with no other information? Right? Like, why are they better than any other socks? Yeah. Are they on sale? Like, are they made from some sort of special material? My feet are really gonna love, like any new information would be great.

[00:11:32] Susan: Woven with the tears of angels or something. It's like. 

[00:11:36] Jess: So like, especially things like that where it's like, I could really go anywhere and find that. Like, give me a reason to want to learn more. And, and I think that's the really nice thing about you know, catalog ads is that now you can, you can do that. 

[00:11:49] Susan: Well, especially during the holiday season too, because it's everyone's getting bombarded. And so, when you get bombarded with 300 products with white backgrounds, it's like anything you do that doesn't [00:12:00] look like that is immediately gonna be like, Ooh, what's that? 

[00:12:04] Jess: Yeah, for sure. We've seen some retailers too, like circumnavigating some really big like global issues using their DPA creative as well.

[00:12:15] So for instance, like furniture companies, right? People are holding off on purchasing furniture right now because it's been really difficult to get in the last year. And like, I don't know if I buy this couch that I see in this ad that I like, if it's gonna come to me in a month or eight months, and so I'm just gonna wait.

[00:12:34] But a couple of our furniture customers have just, you know, applied things like, "free delivery in two days."

[00:12:42] Susan: Yeah. 

[00:12:42] Jess: Or "currently in stock," right? 

[00:12:45] Susan: Yeah, that's a great point. 

[00:12:45] Jess: And they have seen such great results with that because then someone's like, "Oh, perfect. I like that couch and I can get it tomorrow. And you've solved all of my objections just by simply applying a little bit of creative."

[00:12:58] Susan: And you're not making the customer work. I mean, [00:13:00] it's , it's like for those of us that tried to order anything during the supply chain shortage, everything is work. It's like, there's a thing you want, you click and it's like, oh, it's eight months.

[00:13:08] And you're like, Ugh, can I? Then you're looking around to see if anybody else has any sooner, like it becomes so much work. So it's like if you can just take all that work out and it's like, here's when you'll get it. Question answered. Boom, you're done. 

[00:13:19] Jess: Yes. 

[00:13:20] Susan: So worth it. 

[00:13:20] Jess: That's a great point. It's so much more frictionless that way, right? Yes. Like if you can just take some of the friction out with a small message or a review or some sort of rating or sale price, like why not? You're probably already doing the hard work on the back end with your inventory management, so. 

[00:13:36] Susan: Yeah. 

[00:13:38] Jess: Yeah. In conclusion, catalog ads: put a creative on it. 

[00:13:46] Susan: Yeah. Stop doing boring white backgrounds with the drop shadow. You can do better people if you're, if you're creating an amazing brand and amazing products, you can do better than a white background. 

[00:13:56] Jess: Do better. 

[00:13:58] Susan: Do better. 

[00:13:58] Jess: Well that was kind a quick one, [00:14:00] but I think, you know, this is like an easy win for people. 

[00:14:03] Susan: It's a good time to touch base about it cuz y'all got like, you know, four to six weeks to get that worked out. Yeah. Before you start running them in earnest. It's like, this is your homework for the next few weeks is to get rid of the boring white backgrounds. 

[00:14:15] Jess: That's right. It doesn't take much to stand out. That's the funny thing. 

[00:14:18] Susan: Put a stocking on it.

[00:14:22] Jess: Yes, Put a bird on it. 

[00:14:23] Susan: Partridge. Partridge in a pear tree. 

[00:14:27] Jess: There are many birds for holiday season. Any of them will do. 

[00:14:32] Susan: Well I guess that's it for today, for Resting Ad Face. So, Jess, thank you as always. It's a pleasure. 

[00:14:38] Jess: Likewise, Susan.

[00:14:39] Susan: Everybody have a wonderful October as we start marching towards holiday season. We'll see you next time. 

[00:14:44] Jess: Good luck.

[00:14:46] Susan: Bye. 

[00:14:47] Jess: Bye.

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