Direct-to-consumer continues to shake up the way we think of marketing, sales and more.
For direct-to-consumer marketing, you generally think of organic efforts. Search and social ads, email campaigns, and social engagement like the goofy original Dollar Shave Club ad from way back when. CB Insights profiles some of these more organic (but still aggressive) strategies among DTC brands; Casper going all out on SEO and The Honest Company investing in educational content, for example.
But the landscape has changed since those early days. Dollar Shave Club was bought up by P&G and Chewy.com is a PetSmart property. As DTC has grown, these efforts may have lost some of their efficacy for those fresh to the scene. Newer brands will have a harder time getting noticed using these time consuming, content-heavy and long-term strategies.
On the other side of the same coin, these new DTC brands may also have a hard time keeping up as established DTC brands start spending their ad dollars more traditionally. “DTC brands have reached an inflection point that requires them to make a substantial shift to maintain growth,” writes Casey Wuestefeld at MarketingLand. “Likely pivots will include expansion into out-of-home advertising, physical retail and — most notably — television. In other words, these traditional brand disruptors are about to start looking a lot more like traditional brands.”
Many are instead investing in programmatic advertising. It’s targeted, it’s relatively inexpensive and it’s easily measured. At the same time, it is inherently more visual and can reach further than paid search and social advertising.
“Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are now starting to embrace programmatic advertising by taking control of it from an early stage, as paid search and paid social programmes are starting to reach saturation point and the cost of acquisition is only rising,” writes Lloyd Greenfield of The Programmatic Advisory. “Whether is it the empowerment of third-party service providers, or by managing execution themselves, DTC brands are leveraging … strengths in digital and data to gain further market share through effective programmatic advertising.”
In other words, many smaller DTC players are finding programmatic has a higher ROI for their digital ad dollars. They get the benefit of both using ad creatives and placing them cost-effectively.
Some new Programmatic DTC buyers in Q3 2019 were:
This is not exactly a digital native. Lancel is a 145 year old company, but now it positions itself with a new look and a heavy DTC presence.
The DTC brand can be summarized as a subscription box for the fashion market. The ad creative focuses on a free trial and special offer. A quick search reveals that the brand relied heavily on influencer marketing in its early stages, making programmatic display ads something new.
This luxury online bedding company almost certainly faces stiff competition from other DTC players (like Brooklinen) and from the eCommerce presence of major retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond. Crane & Company bills itself as a luxury bedding brand, with the ad creatives to match.
You can’t get much more niche than affordable monthly Korean sheet masks. FaceTory operates with the popular DTC model, offering subscription boxes for the sheet masks and some bonus skincare products.