The Power of Real - Time Data on Black Friday

Founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen from a market stall in London’s East End, Tesco is one of the world’s largest multi-channel retailers with over 3,500 stores in the UK, serving tens of millions of customers each week in-store and online. Tesco Direct is the companies general merchandise branch.

Brief & Objectives

Tesco Direct began working with us in June 2015, so Black Friday was our first big test together. After the chaotic scenes across many retailer stores the previous year, we were expecting online traffic to be bigger than ever. There were two challenges that came with this:

  • Identify the most popular deals and capitalise on heightened demand and tendency to purchase
  • Ensure ads showing for products that have sold out are kept to a minimum


Keeping the Stock Fresh

Before any sales began, we worked closely with Tesco to understand which products were likely to sell out over the course of the day. We were then able to build product specific ad groups for these and link them to our merchant centre feed, using DoubleClick Inventory Rules.

By setting up these rules for the most at risk products, we were able to rely on our feed to keep our ad groups up to date as much as possible, freeing up our teams time and allowing them to focus their attention elsewhere.

Although the inventory rules helped save a lot of time, particularly in an account of this size, and despite the feed being regularly refreshed throughout the day, it was still not in real-time. Because we were using DoubleClick however, we were able to complement this with human management. Throughout the day the team were able to analyse fresh data and quickly identify any ad groups that were previously converting well but had now suddenly stopped, suggesting the stock may have run out. If we were having to wait for delays in our reports, we could have wasted a lot of ad spend driving traffic towards products that were no longer available.

Pushing the Converters

Another area we needed to monitor closely was which deals were driving the most conversions, and which deals may be driving a lot of traffic but few or no conversions. As many retailers have similar products on sale, it was really important for us to monitor what they were doing but also our own data. Again, there were two parts to this: a) using the advanced features of DS and b) complementing this with real-time management.

Firstly, we applied bid strategies, which could automatically update our bids up to four times per day. This was our base line, ensuring all bids were being adjusted throughout the day.

Secondly, by closely monitoring the data in the interface, we were able to quickly identify which deals were performing the best and react almost instantly to this, helping us to maximise our returns from these products.

Again, if we were restricted to standard reports we would not have been able to capitalise on the consumer demand as it was there. On Black Friday 11% of revenue occurred between 9am – 10am, yet by 11am, when we would have had a full view of data in AdWords, conversions per hour had dropped by 21%.


By acting in real time and continually adjusting our campaigns we were able to achieve:

  • 160% increase in conversions year on year
  • A year on year cost of sale decrease of 35%

Quote from the client

“Periscopix really delivered for us over Black Friday, planning and running campaigns which supported our offers on everything from TVs to furniture. By 9am, Tesco Direct had taken almost half of the revenue taken over the full day last year. This was achieved despite an extended delivery proposition during the busy period, and tight cost control.”

Simon Rogers, Head of Performance Marketing

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