Clients frequently ask the M+R digital ads team to take over external marketing efforts from other vendors or internal staff – usually with a specific challenge or goal in mind.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a powerhouse online and no stranger to experimenting with new marketing tools and tactics. They had previously used a patchwork of vendors and internal resources to manage their paid marketing ventures before turning to M+R.

We started by quickly assessing their (considerable!) efforts and determining where we felt confident we could generate some quick improvement, and then moved on to a number of other projects. We’ve highlighted two here (Search and Retargeting).

We took over PETA’s search program in 2013 from another vendor who was not as accountable and transparent as PETA desired. We fixed that problem right away! But, really, we wanted to improve their search performance without increasing costs. Here’s what we did:

  • Increased the percentage of searches PETA displayed on;
  • Shut down poorly performing keywords; and
  • Optimized ad creative for conversions (especially before December).

The results were pretty great:

  • 131% increase in search revenue;
  • Total search conversion rate up 40%; and
  • 600% return on investment in Yahoo and Bing.

We’ve kept going! During year-end 2014, we saw another 12% increase in conversion rate across search and 25% increase in transactions.

Retargeting was relatively new and PETA wanted to know if it worked before investing too much – and it felt to them like some vendors simply wanted to sell as much as possible rather than determine its best use. We settled on answering this question: how much new revenue is created by showing email clickers ads and, after taking into consideration the cost of the ads, are they yielding net revenue?

We structured a split test at end of year to identify exactly how much lift we could expect if we served ads to email clickers during the month of December.

  • Everyone who clicked on one of PETA’s December appeals landed on a donation page that looked exactly the same, but half the clickers landed on cookied page.
  • Those that were cookied began receiving a series of PETA ads, designed to tightly match the creative of the email campaign.


In the end, the test group – those that were served ads – had a 20% higher return. The result was statistically significant and yielded immediate net revenue for the organization. A big – and quantifiable! – win.

We used these test results to develop our attribution model for PETA’s retargeting reporting and have continued testing every aspect of the program – from creative to audience targeting to frequency. These optimizations have allowed us to see a continued increase in revenue, while keeping the budget flat!