+150% Owned Platform Activity by Moving From Print to a Digital Flyer

Site & eCommerce
App
Cross-Channel
Advertising
October 1, 2020
Grocery

Key Takeaways

Digital Impact — Heavily Increased Usage of Owned Platforms: Superstore’s move to a print flyer to a digital flyer massively increased readership of their digital flyer on owned platforms such as their website (106K → 160K monthly flyer visits) and the PC Express App (38K → 112K MAU), with a minor increase in flyer readership on third-party deal sites (-1.8%). This shift occurred at the exact same time as the global Covid-19 pandemic hit North America in Q2 2020 and the pandemic continues in Q4 2020 at the time of writing so it’s impossible to tell exactly which impacts were due to Covid-19 and which were due to the pandemic. We have one clue that indicates the increase in flyer readership on owned digital platforms is here to stay: The gains in digital flyer readership have been at least 50% retained for both the PC Express app and Superstore.ca website, despite the fact that the world has settled into a ‘new normal’ during the pandemic.

Advertising Strategy — Invest in Paid Search and Social to Promote a Digital Flyer, With a Focus on Search: After the transition to a digital flyer Superstore made it a much more clear focus in both Paid Social and Paid Search ads to help their audience find the digital flyer. In Paid Social, ad copy and creative was re-oriented to more clearly highlight the digital flyer. The highest spending social ads directly promoted the digital flyer in conjunction with other parts of the digital ecosystem like PC Optimum. In Paid Search, Superstore drastically increased both their total number of ads (18 → 80) and the number of ads that explicitly focused on the digital flyer (0 → 68). This focus on search is likely in response to the major increase in flyer-related searches since the flyer went digital. In other words, people already know they want the flyer and they turn to Google to find it. Superstore has started to heavily invest in capturing this high-intent search traffic with search ads.

Attribution Strategy — More Digital = More Clarity: The 100% implementation of a digital flyer also gives Superstore the ability to gain a remarkably more clear picture of digital sales attribution since the entire customer journey remains digital instead of users dropping off the map when reading a print flyer, allowing for much better advertising optimization as well as access to a wealth of customer preference data by linking flyer content directly to users’ digital commerce activity. 


In April 2020, Superstore announced that their flyer would be 100% digital moving forward, with the print edition being discontinued starting April 16th.


Superstore’s digital flyer is now tightly integrated with its online shopping experience. On desktop, the flyer is interactive, giving users the ability to add items to their shopping cart with flyer-deals automatically applied.

Prior to the move to digital, Superstore’s flyer page was viewed 106K times monthly on average.


After the April 2020 shift to digital, Superstore’s flyer was viewed 160K times monthly on average; a 51% increase.

Visits to Superstore’s flyer on third-party flyer sites also tended to see an increase after the decision to move the flyer from print to digital, except Red Flag Deals, which decreased 12%. In sum, this represents a 1.8% decrease in average monthly visits to Superstore’s flyer on third-party sites. This combination of an increase on some sites and a decrease on redflagdeals.com may indicate that more users are starting to view Superstore’s flyer on owned platforms such as superstore.ca and the PC Express app.

*April 19’ - March 20’


After the switch, the amount of organic search traffic driven to Superstore’s site by “flyer” related keywords increased 96% from 21K to 43K monthly.


Prior to the switch to a digital-only flyer, mobile made up a larger proportion of Superstore’s web traffic versus desktop.

After the switch to digital-only flyers, that trend reversed and Superstore’s desktop traffic overtook its mobile traffic, but just barely. Overall traffic also drastically increased during this period.


On mobile, Superstore’s flyer can be accessed via mobile web, but the UI pushes users towards the PC Express app for a better experience, tying in with the rest of Superstore’s digital ecosystem.


Just prior to desktop traffic overtaking mobile traffic, app downloads and usage* for the PC Express app skyrocketed from an average MAU of 38K to 112K**, then stabilizing back to an average of 60K. In summary, the shift to a digital flyer contributed to a massive increase in traffic and a migration of users from Superstore’s site to the PC Express app.


From March to November 2020, three out of the five top spending Superstore social/display ads were focused on promoting the digital flyer.

Superstore also increased the emphasis on the digital flyer in ad copy and creative. In older flyer ads, the flyer wasn’t mentioned in the copy or shown in the creative.


In ads after the switch to digital flyer, the flyer is the written & visual focus.

Beyond social & display, Superstore has focused a large proportion of paid promotion of the digital flyer into Search Ads, but didn’t begin doing so until 3 months after the switch to digital. This focus on search is likely in response to the major increase in flyer-related searches since the flyer went digital. In other words, people already know they want the flyer and they turn to Google to find it. Superstore has started to heavily invest in capturing this high-intent search traffic with search ads.


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