Ad Retargeting: The Elements of a Great Display Ad

Ad Display DCO

Though ad retargeting has become an important tool for retailers, it is not enough just to put the right ad at the right time in front of the user.

The problem is just because a user is served a relevant ad it does not guarantee they will click through. Ad retargeting is just part of the process, retailers need to serve not just relevant ads, but ads that are dynamic and engaging.

Ads are made up of various elements such as the marketing message, product and price. All of these are variable, and each can impact the CTR’s.

Using a cookie cutter approach doesn’t take into account what drives a user to click on an ad. We all know that users are using the Internet more than before, that mobile is about to explode, but its what motivates a user to click on through that drives conversions.

With Dynamic creative optimization, retailers can run tests to find the best performing elements and customize their display ad for each campaign.

Struq found that during a sale promotion soft calls to action such as ‘view’ increased CTR’s by 32% over strong call to action, while during a non sale promotion, the opposite was true, with strong calls to action yielding a much higher CTR’s over soft calls to action.

When a simple element has the power to give such a CTR lift, these tests can give retailers a real edge in today’s market. Ad personalization is more than just ad retargeting, it’s finding what the user wants (retarget) and then how the user best responds to ads (DCO).

The need for more transparency and less fragmentation

Dan Smith, Senior Media buyer at Struq, shared his thoughts on a recent article on Ad Exchanger aboutProgrammatic Marketplace and the need for more Transparency. You can read the full entry here 

I certainly agree that there needs to be greater cohesion in the market place!

Real Time Bidding (RTB) teams are split down the middle between the demand and supply side. The focus for the demand teams is finding new demand and increasing cost per impressions (CPMs) from existing partners.   The supply teams are focused on increasing the volume of publishers and opening up a greater proportion of inventory to the RTB environment. This means neither team gives real consideration as to whether they are meeting the needs and desires of their advertisers/publishers.

RTBs are desperate to move away from the idea that they monetize remnant inventory and nothing else. This has led to the rise of PMPs and private auctions. From what I’ve seen they offer little additional value and are often made up inventory that would have been available in the open market place, only now it has a floor price. We are constantly sold the concept of  “first look”, but the reality is that you’re still in an auction for the same old inventory.

For every good PMP there are 10 bad ones; this is where we need the greater transparency and increased communication that you only really get with a direct partnership. Every publisher we work with directly knows about our business and what we are hoping to achieve from our campaigns. Some publishers we buy with via RTB may not even know who Struq are.

Seperately, Publishers hiding their identity behind anonymous URLs raises the issue of how can you buy on an audience basis when you don’t know which sites you are buying from? This makes it hard for Digital Signal Processors (DSP) to make sense of, let alone Chief Marketing Officers(CMO’s). Educating CMOs is one thing, but simplifying the current landscape and increasing transparency would make this education a lot easier.

The Worlds First DCO Enabled Mobile Ad Personalization Product

So for the last few months we have been running alpha tests and are excited to introduce the worlds first DCO enabled Mobile ad personalization product.  This allows our clients to now personalize ads on mobile devices both for finding new and for retargeting existing mobile customers.

With the mobile e commerce industry growing rapidly, these new products allow retailers to take full advantage of the market in the run up to the holiday season, and reach new customers and re engage with existing ones.

Struq uses contextual targeting based on relevant interest categories to serve ads to the best performing devices, taking into account variables such as publisher, time of day and location.

Pairing this with stunning ad design, retailers can create a compelling shopping experience utilizing ads created in HTML5 and new swipe features designed for mobile devices.

Retailers will be able to experiment with different ad styles, marketing messages and products in order to maximize their results.

With new features continually being added, such as mobile app targeting, Struq is well positioned to deliver a mobile product to give your company the edge in today’s mobile e commerce industry.

Contact Struq at for more information.


Struq Halloween

With Halloween now over for another year, it has in reflection certainly been one plentiful with treats.

It is great to work in a company where everyone is able to come together and share in its success.

But as one holiday ends another awaits. Next up here in the States is Thanksgiving and with it Black Friday. Black Friday is perhaps one of the most important dates in the e commerce calendar, a day which last year saw sales top $1 Billion online.

As a result we return to our desks, set ourselves new goals and redefine expectation. At Struq we have always found it important to enjoy our success, but also use it as a push off point to even greater achievement.

It livessmallIt livessmall

Social media is right to adopt ads, and its the users who benefit most.

Yesterday Todd Wasserman posted an article on Mashable stating one of the reasons for the recent ad explosion was greed. You can read the full post here.

The truth is advertising has made it possible for the Internet to  become the all encompassing entity it is today. Display advertising had historically been the business model of the Internet which enabled people to build businesses online and talented journalists to make a living. As the Internet has evolved, people thought that there may be a better business model and that’s how pay walls arose. The problem that pay walls presented is that it narrowed the size of the audience – Online websites that adopted the pay wall have accepted that they will only reach a small niche audience.

Think of the difference to the world if twitter was behind a pay wall.

Would we have had the Arab uprising?

Instagram, Twitter and Google all are mass media websites and that’s why they have adopted a tried and tested business model. Display advertising is evolving rapidly, from real time programmatic buying to real time personalized ads, so that consumers receive ads that are meaningful and relevant to them, ensuring that their users have a better online experience.

Mass media websites will continue to adopt this proven revenue generative business model, especially as it evolves to provide more value to their users.

Struq looking for new BDM for the Brazil team (London based)

Business Development Manager (Portuguese speaker) – 20k-25K + commission London Based

The candidate we are looking for is hungry Sales Executive eager to join a rapidly growing team. You will be a highly competitive and motivated individual with an excellent phone manner looking to build our business by acquiring customers from the LATAM market. This is a London based role but since we are expanding to different markets travelling to Brazil may be necessary every quarter (once passed probation period).

You will be the voice of Struq introducing our product to decision makers in your assigned geographic. We are looking for someone who can continue to develop Brazilian contacts and ideally have an insight in other Latin American countries. Experience of selling into the e-commerce community in these areas would be extremely advantageous.


  • Acquire and qualify new leads through cold calling
  • Proactive research on BR market in order to find new leads
  • Use lead sources thoroughly and methodically
  • Be responsible for your own lead generation and appointment setting
  • Close long tail clients
  • Sell different products and understand the maximum potential of each client
  • Maintain sales pipeline and relevant sales administration
  • Develop a clear understanding of the Brazilian market to understand future trends and link closely with client services and tech team
  • Develop an in depth understanding of our industry and products.

The Ideal Candidate

Required skills:

  • Experience of e-commerce sales and evidence of meeting targets
  • English and one of the following language skills: Portuguese (fluent); Spanish (desirable)
  • Enthusiastic, motivated and hungry individual
  • Good written and spoken communication skills
  • Exceptional phone manner
  • Proactive and with tenacious attitude
  • Results-driven
  • Tech-savvy

Desired skills:

  • Knowledge of the advertising-industry (mobile would be an advantage)
  • Sales or lead generations experience

Why Struq?

  • Winner of the Best Advertising and Marketing Company in Europe “The Telegraph’s Tech Start Up 100”
  • Winner of Most Innovative Company at the Entrepreneur Country Awards 2011
  • Winner of Marketing Week’s Rising Star Award 2011 – awards honouring promising technology start-ups in Europe.
  • Smarta 100 Winner – The top 100 most exciting and disruptive new business
  • Top 100 Media Tech Company as voted for by The Guardian, PwC, Microsoft and Europe Unlimited
  • Sam Barnett (CEO) named Top 30 under 30 for Technology and Design by Square Mile.


The Wall: Sam Barnett asks ‘Will Publicis and Omnicom tie the knot Before Midnight?’

It’s been quite the month for American/French relations. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have been reunited in Richard Linklater’s third instalment of the Before Sunset series (pictured), and Omnicom and Publicis have confirmed a merger which will create the large advertising, communications and marketing services agency in the world.

The new company, imaginatively named Publicis Omnicom Group (no ‘e’) will have a combined market cap of over $30bn, generating total revenues of over $23bn. It is to be led by industry heavyweights Maurice Levy and John Wren, who have notched up a total of 42 years as CEOs of Publicis and Omnicom respectively.

This is the beginning of a long and arduous journey for the two firms as they begin a lengthy restructuring phase to work on ‘future scalability’ and align ‘internal synergies’ – also known as thrashing out a new company culture and firing anyone who doesn’t fit into the new organisation.

So was the merger really such a good idea? Why now? Continue reading

Real Business: Sam Barnett’s Tale of Corruption, Voodoo, and Hope in Haiti

I spent five days in Haiti and experienced countless shocks, alongside every conceivable emotion: joy; rage; frustration; pride; misery. My first shock was Haiti’s social hierarchy. The women do everything. They raise the children, they work and provide for their families, they cook and clean, and they give money to their husbands.

The Andrew Grene Microfinance project, spear-headed by entrepreneur Tim Perutz, is aimed at helping these women to start and grow businesses. I met some of the women who are involved in the initiative, selling everything from melons to cooked rice and fish. I’ve mentored many entrepreneurs before, in the US & UK, and the entrepreneurs always talk about their growth ambitions, wanting to change the world. It was humbling to hear how these woman just wanted to live a bit longer, to be able to put food on the table and send their children to school. Continue reading

The Guardian: Privacy, cookies and free web content: where do we go from here?

We need the online data industry in order to keep the web free. Rather than strangle the whole system, the focus should be on making ad companies work in an ethical and transparent way.

Back in 1850, a sign was hung outside the Milwaukee Crescent saloon, purveyor of cigars (“segars”), wines and liquors. The announcement read: “A free lunch every day at 11 o’clock will be served up.” Punters would be lured in by the “free” food and buy drinks when they got thirsty. Thus, the well-worn phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, was born.  Continue reading

The Wall: Sam Barnett on fatally-flawed attribution models

It’s 2013. Companies like Scanadu are building the real-life medical tricorder once imagined in Star Trek; Virgin Galactic is on the verge of sending people into space for their holidays (beats Magaluf); and my company now makes 3.4 billion real-time decisions every day on the web. An inconceivable feat ten years ago.

And yet, in the digital advertising world, attribution modelling is still stuck in the dark ages. For years, various technology companies and agencies have promised to move away from the ‘last touch’ metric, which attributes a sale or click to the last company to have shown an ad. But ask most firms in the space how they measure attribution and they’ll respond: ‘We have an incredibly sophisticated system for measuring attribution which factors in 100,000 different variables…’ Drill down and what do you find? Last touch, every time. Continue reading

Wired: With Struq, ad-man Sam Barnett knows you intimately

Ex-lawyer Sam Barnett started his personalised advertising start-up Struq with £2,000 – “credit, not cash,” he says. Now the London-based start-up has attracted 350 clients from 19 countries, including Nike, Adidas, Hilton Hotels and Topshop, which want to target their ads at you based on your interests.

Its concept is simple: “Rather than showing an ad for a pair of skinny jeans that would never fit me, Struq tailors the online shop window to advertise products that suit me,” says London-born Barnett, 29.

“I didn’t want online ads to be things that everyone ignores.” Pictured with him are his own preferences – golf, pop art, wine and bespoke suits – as Struq ads would target him. Continue reading

Predictions for 2013 – part two

Here’s the second part of our blog post about predictions for 2013. We’ve got the CEO, Director of Engineering, Recruitment Manager, Account Director and the Sales Directors in the UK & US.

Sam Barnett – CEO

Marketers demand transparent contractual agreements with retargeting providers: Marketers have shown that they want transparency from their marketing platforms – just look at the rapid adoption of DSPs which allow marketing teams to see exactly where their ads are appearing, how much marketing they are making and insight into how the technology’s decision-making engine. While DSPs offer this transparency and control, marketers do not get what they really want which is post-click performance. Personalized retargeting has been steadily delivering the holy grail of performance-driving display advertising to marketers and they are hooked. However just like the rest of the display industry (and the search industry before that) personalized retargeting providers need to move to a transparent business model to align themselves with the needs of marketers.

Marketers chose one retargeting provider to work with instead of multiple providers: The average online marketing channel takes less than a decade to reach a mature state and we see similar trends across each channel. Just a few years ago in the affiliate marketing channel, marketers looked to increase performance by working with multiple networks however this didn’t last long. The case of dual networks is now relatively rare due to the inefficiencies it brings: multiple reporting systems, duplication, extra work, increased costs….Marketers will be looking to consolidate onto one platform which means that providers will have to ensure that they have everything on board (performance, transparency, control, exceptional creative) to meet their needs. Providers unable to keep up will die out.

Mark Hammond, Director of Engineering

  • 2013 will see a continuation of current trends: increased amount of ads served through RTB and continued buzz around the poorly defined ‘Big Data’
  • There will be an increased awareness of internet users around content personalization and how data about their online habits is shaping their online experience,
  • especially as Facebook looks to monetize its ecosystem. Personalized retargeting providers will have to keep consumer experience high up on their agenda
  • While efforts will be made I do not see any widespread takeup of more meaningful attribution models such as those incorporating viewable ad impressions or proportionalattribution. Post-impression and last click won’t go away
  • Most of all, 2013 will see an increased consolidation of the industry in all areas: marketing teams will want to use a single platform wherever possible for both managing and gaining insights and analytics around their campaigns. A giant such as Amazon, which has a large amount of first party data on the purchasing habits of users may take the industry by storm, if their competitors feel comfortable sharing their data.

Continue reading

Predictions for 2013 – part one

We’ve been reading all the predictions for 2013 in the US and UK offices and thought it may be a good idea to put some of ours together (albeit a month late). Today’s installment comes from the CTO, Head of Partnerships, Head of Operations/Design,  the Media Buying Director and the Marketing Manager. We’ll be posting the predictions from our CEO, Recruitment Manager, Client Director, and the Sales Directors in the UK & US in the next few days.

Aaron  - CTO

2013 will see the death of most direct response advertising companies that aren’t built upon advanced, statistical/learning-based technologies. The performance of companies like Struq will so far outstrip the competition that their ability to trade will be significantly impaired. Most companies within the retargeting sphere fall under this category, but I think the impact will extend to some DSPs, where performance has typically been abysmal and the ability to plug in robust decisioning layers has been limited. The flexibility that these players have offered, in lieu of performance, will be countered by advances in transparency and control offered by companies like Struq.

Nitin  - Head of Partnerships

2013 will be the year of choice. As more players become mature in markets including affiliate, retargeting and PPC, advertisers have more choice than ever. In is insanely important for providers to clearly define their differences and to push their messages in the market or they risk falling into the category of ‘one of the others’. They must be fully marketer-focused and be adaptable to achieve and, indeed, exceed advertiser expectations. A one size fits all approach simply won’t cut it anymore.

Continue reading

Introducing Andrew Morgan from Struq’s New York office

As we’re recruiting we thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to introduce some of the new members of the team. Andrew Morgan started with us 3 months ago and is heading up sales in the US. He joined us with a staggering 17 years digital marketing experience and has held senior positions at such online marketing giants as Akamai and DoubleClick.

Here’s a little bit about him:

Andrew Morgan

What’s your background?

Digital marketing – it’s the only thing I know how to do.

You’re somewhat of a veteran in online advertising. What big changes have you seen in your time?

The Internet has changed the world in a big way. Geeks are the new rock stars, bandwidth is like oxygen and free shipping is currency. The said, some of the biggest changes I’ve seen in recent years are from simple innovations. For example, the ad server made display scalable, 70 characters of text (a search result) changed the game completely, and the cookie is the foundation of fear and wonder in the digital world. Continue reading

Wrap up of 2012

It’s been an ambitious and successful year over here at Struq. We’ve been talking about how much we’ve done in the last 12 months and thought it would be a good idea (if only for future posterity) to write it all down.

the Struq team


We’ve nearly doubled the number of people we started the year with in 2012. The focus has been to add some heavyweight talent across the board: our client development, engineering and management teams. It’s always a challenge to find the right people so we’re delighted with our flourishing team. Some of the key hires we made in 2012 were:

  • Kate Lavender, COO (who actually starts early next year so it is a small cheat to include her. You can read more about Kate’s appointment here)
  • Andrew Morgan, Sales Director for the US, joined us in October
  • Sebastien Blanc joined at the beginning of the year as Commercial Director and is now the VP of Operations
  • Geoff Wright joined in November as the VP of Sales
  • Amit Joshi joined last week as Media Buying Director

Continue reading