Client – John Lewis

Markets – UK

Timing –November – December 2014

Agencies/Vendors – Infectious Media, Radio Times

Keywords – programmatic, personalization, cross-screen, channel integration, data analytics

John Lewis employed an innovative programmatic advertising strategy to maximize brand engagement and sales during the crucial Christmas season.


John Lewis reported record sales during the festive period in 2013 thanks to increasing online sales, and their pioneering approach to digital marketing is a key factor in its strong online performance. With online sales being an important part of its growth strategy, John Lewis needed to further improve its performance in 2014.


John Lewis developed an innovative strategy to strengthen brand awareness and sales during the 2014 holiday season through programmatic advertising. It maximized brand engagement by being placed on high impact brand formats on viewable premium inventory. Engagement rates were further increased through the use of audience data to serve more relevant, personalized ads to customers. To take full advantage of the high level of popularity of John Lewis’ Christmas advertising, a proportion of the digital advertising would be synchronized to appear at the same time as their TV ads.


John Lewis’ Christmas campaign achieved great success with the help of two major digital activities: “tailored takeover,” which used programmatic data points to show tailored ads to users based on their browsing habits, and “TV synchronization,” which automatically directs digital display advertising to be shown in coordination with TV advertising by using a commercial database of TV slots for over 2000 channels, across 60 countries.


John Lewis worked with its programmatic specialist, Infectious Media, to create this innovative advertising campaign. The campaign focused on promoting three of John Lewis’s most important product ranges, Home, Electrical and Beauty. Customers who visited one of these sections on John Lewis’ website would see a related ad when visiting The Radio Times website. In addition, TV synchronization began in the 5 weeks leading up to Christmas. The campaign ran on both desktop and tablet, and the results of the campaign were shared with John Lewis in real-time via a custom dashboard built by Infectious Media. The cross-screen strategy maximized the impact of John Lewis’ Christmas TV investments.


As the world’s first ‘Programmatic Tailored Takeover,’ the campaign had an average viewability of 80%, more than twice the industry average. The click through rates (CTR) for the tailored takeover were 42% higher than average, and the cost per acquisition (CPA) performance was six times stronger than average for a brand awareness campaign.