John Lewis programmatically engages customers with Christmas brand advertising




John Lewis reported record sales during the festive period in 2013, with like-for-like sales up 6.9% from the previous year. The growth was driven by online sales which were 44% higher than the previous year and a 13% increase in in-store sales.

John Lewis’ pioneering approach to digital marketing is a key factor in its strong online performance. It was one of the first brands to embrace programmatic advertising, partnering in 2012 with programmatic specialist, Infectious Media.

With online sales an important part of its growth strategy, John Lewis needed to improve its performance in 2014. John Lewis sought to maximise brand awareness and sales during the crucial Christmas period, by creating an innovative programmatic advertising campaign.



John Lewis briefed Infectious Media to devise a strategy to achieve its brand engagement and sales goals.

Infectious Media suggested an innovative strategy, made possible by programmatic advertising. It would maximise brand engagement by being placed on high impact brand formats on viewable premium inventory. Engagement rates would be further increased through the use of audience data to serve more relevant, personalised ads to customers. To take full advantage of the high level of popularity of John Lewis’ Christmas advertising, a proportion of the digital advertising would be synchronised to appear at the same time as the TV ads.

Infectious Media proposed a ground breaking strategy that would strengthen brand awareness and sales for John Lewis during the Christmas period. The campaign was broken down into two major segments:


Tailored Takeover

To maximise the impact of the campaign Infectious Media proposed to run the world’s first ‘tailored takeover’. Whereas a traditional takeover is bought directly through negotiation with the publisher, with all users seeing the same ads. A ‘tailored takeover’ uses programmatic data points to show tailored ads to users based on their browsing habits.

Infectious Media suggested this campaign would focus on promoting three of John Lewis’s most important ranges, Home, Electrical and Beauty. Customers who visited one of these sections on John Lewis’ website would see a related ad when visiting The Radio Times website.




Infectious Media believed that by bridging the gap between data and creativity through this ‘tailored takeover’ brand awareness and engagement rates would be increased.

The campaign was run on both desktop and tablet and results of the campaign were shared with John Lewis in real-time via custom dashboards built by Infectious Media.


TV Synchronisation

John Lewis’ acclaimed Christmas TV advertising has and continues to play a major role in its marketing activity and Infectious Media proposed a plan to leverage this digitally with another advertising innovation that could only be realised programmatically – ‘TV synchronisation’.

John Lewis agreed to pilot TV synchronisation, which automatically directs digital display advertising to be shown to coordinate with TV advertising by using a commercial database of TV slots for over 2000 channels, across 60 countries.

Infectious Media began syncing with John Lewis’ TV advertising in the 5 weeks leading to Christmas on both desktop and tablets. This allowed John Lewis to reach its audience across dual screens, maximising the impact of its Christmas TV investments.



  • The world’s first ‘Programmatic Tailored Takeover
  • The average viewability for the campaign was 80%, more than twice the industry average
  • The RadioTimes Tailored Takeover was 100% viewable
  • Click through rates (CTR) for the tailored takeover were 42% higher than average
  • CTR trebled YoY
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA) performance was 6x stronger than average for a brand awareness campaign


“The Christmas campaign with Infectious Media was a great success and allowed us to break new ground with our digital marketing activity. We are thrilled to be the first advertiser to run a tailored takeover and also to be one of the first to synchronise our online and offline activity. We will continue to push the boundaries in digital marketing as we believe it is key to maintaining our position as a market leader“. Kane Bartlett, Online Acquisition and Paid Search Manager, John Lewis