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Success Stories Argos Case Study

How Forecaster transformed
paid-search for Argos


Forecaster has radically improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our paid search campaigns. We’ve not only driven down costs but increased our margins in the search channel.

Daniel Patmore, Search Strategy Manager Argos

Argos is one of the UK’s leading High Street brands, serving around 130 million customers a year through its network of 740 stores. It’s also the UKs largest multichannel retailer, selling more than 50,000 products through and receiving over 430 million visits annually.

Argos has been working with Summit since 2007, when online marketing was in its infancy. It started using Forecaster in 2011 and has since seen its margins grow by 170%.


Our challenge from Argos

For FY 2013/2014 Argos set us a new objective. Building on the success of the previous year they wanted to maximise their return by increasing their budget and spending more effectively. So how much would they need to spend to make the most profit?

Argos gave us some tough conditions. They wanted to increase revenue from paid search by 30% and maximise margin across sales of all 50,000 products and 32 categories without any rise in cost of sale.

Our six-part strategy

Our approach was to devise a strategic search plan that used Forecaster to execute six specific tactics: 


Cut budget wastage, or underspend, by developing predictive analytics models that gave accurate forecasts for optimised budget spend, and expected revenue, by day, week and month.


Ensure the right ads were shown to the right audience, on the right device, at the right time by improving speed to market, efficiency and accuracy of campaigns, aligning creative messaging with stock and price changes in almost real time.


Measure the ‘real’ contribution that every click and keyword provided to a sale, by creating a bespoke attribution model.


Synchronise campaigns with changes in customer buying behaviour influenced by factors like weather, location and seasonality.


Adapt the messaging, scheduling and positioning of paid search ads to capitalise on the uplift in traffic expected after a relevant TV ad is shown.


Shift focus from revenue to profit by changing the success metrics and evaluation of campaigns, from cost of sale to net margin contribution, at product level.

Putting Forecaster to work

Forecaster’s predictive analytics enabled us to make accurate decisions about where and when to invest Argos’s budget to make the greatest profit. Forecaster reviewed Google data, customer ROI targets, conversion rates and transactional data. By applying statistical models it learned from every day of marketing activity and began building predictions for every keyword for over 50,000 Argos products.

To increase the accuracy of its predictions Forecaster analysed near real-time data from customer buying triggers including location, weather and TV advertising.


Exploiting seasonal peaks

Forecaster identified and mapped seasonal trends across all Forecasters clients keywords and products, creating 72 different seasonal curves for retail. This was applied to Argos’ product range. These showed the annual seasonality for the entire Argos product portfolio across events such as school holidays, back to school, Argos catalogue launches, bank holidays, Easter and most importantly, Christmas. This enabled us to anticipate customer demand and predict changes in impressions, click-through rate, cost per click and conversion rate.


Synchronising with weather events

We focused on weather-dependent products and mapped these to weather-related campaigns across Argos’ digital marketing activity. We then created a library of weather templates for every product, identifying the effects of temperature on each product at any time of year. These templates identified the seasonal and weather triggers that Forecaster used to automate campaign adjustments and propose bid changes. Each day Forecaster received a 10-day weather forecast, broken down into 26 UK regions and mapped to Argos’s network of over 800 stores. Using our product weather mapping Forecaster was able to optimise campaigns and target weather-related products against the daily forecast.


Aligning with TV ads

With the growing popularity of using tablets, laptops and smartphones while watching TV, we predicted it would be possible to increase margins by aligning Argos’ online marketing with the broadcast of TV ads. Using Forecaster and TVTY, we synchronised Argos’ accounts in real-time with their own and their competitors’ TV ads, making changes in Google within seconds of an ad appearing. This enabled Argos to exploit the trend of dual-screening and grow their sales on the back of their own and their suppliers TV advertising.

Forecaster provided Argos with accurate daily and weekly budget and revenue forecasts. It delivered campaign bid recommendations that were automatically implemented within seconds, and daily diagnostic reports to quickly identify and rectify any underperforming campaigns.


High performance results

The campaign met its objectives and was declared a huge success by Argos. In the financial year 2013/14 Forecaster delivered an overall 170% year on year uplift in net margin across all of Argos’s product categories. In almost every category the increase was over 100% and in some categories as high as 900%.


The campaign delivered the following results:

  • Total annual revenues from search increased 52% on the previous year
  • Over the Christmas peak, the PPC channel delivered a 46% increase on  the previous year
  • Web traffic from PPC and Shopping grew 33% year on year
  • Cost of sale outperformed the target
  • Forecaster lifted conversion rates and average order value
  • The total number of orders taken from PPC increased by 31%

Forecaster’s had a great impact on our business. It’s allowed us to be even more competitive in a challenging market particularly when it’s come to understanding where to place our investments.

Mark Steel, Head of Digital Operations, Argos

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