What We Learned From the Biggest Paid Media Wins Last Year

March 2019

by Erica Garza

2018 was the year of Tide pod challenges, royal weddings and … paid media? Driven by data and personalization, paid media in 2018 resulted in highly targeted campaigns based on customer behaviors and target demographics. From programmatic advertising to irresistible Facebook giveaways to the rise of influencer marketing, here are some of the biggest media wins of last year.


TOMS – Facebook Giveaway

Who doesn’t like to win? TOMS ran a Facebook ad campaign in 2018 to promote its fall products for men and women within its EMEA region. It used a series of tools for this promotion, including video (customized for each market); canvas ads about featured change-makers wearing TOMS; a contest with a pair of shoes as the prize; and retargeted ads for those who had engaged with the video or contest. Using this well-rounded approach worked out very well for TOMS, which reached 35 million people during the campaign. When asked what factor contributed most to the campaign’s success, TOMS social media coordinator Violaine Marty told AdEspresso it was the giveaway, because it helped to build the most engagement.


Conde Nast – Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic ad buying, which uses automation in the buying and selling of media, should work equally well for advertisers and publishing venue where the ad will live. For publisher Conde Nast, which made all of its digital products available programmatically in 2018, success was achieved with ease. For the first time, sponsorships for the Met Gala sold to buyers transacting using programmatic advertising. Conde Nast also unveiled its own data platform, claiming that advertisers who use the platform will triple their return on advertising spending.


Coca-Cola – Influencer Marketing

A recent influencer marketing study suggests that 70 percent of millennial consumers are driven by the recommendations of peers in buying decisions. With the rise of social media influencers, including Instagram, that number is expected to climb. Coca-Cola leveraged the power of influencer marketing in 2018 with the #ThisOnesFor Instagram Campaign, utilizing just 14 influencers to generate an average engagement rate over 8 percent. Creating a total of 22 sponsored posts highlighting Coca-Cola’s signature Coke beverage, influencers shared unique narratives around who they’d share a Coke with, provoking followers’ interest with visuals, brand awareness and the power of storytelling. Getting the word out about your brand with the help of influencers can have a huge impact on your revenue. Influencer marketing has been shown to generate an average of $6.50 in revenue for every dollar spent.

Nike – Immersive Experiential Marketing

To promote the launch of its new running shoes, Epic React, Nike pushed content across a variety of channels, including websites, mobile, social media and video. According to Digital Marketing Institute, the most impressive portion of the campaign was its immersive Reactland initiative, which transported users into a virtual video game (complete with an Avatar of themselves). This allowed them to experience an element of gamification while learning about the brand’s latest technology and increasing brand awareness.

Overstock – Paid Search

Not sure what paid search is and how to use it for your brand’s success? In 2018, Overstock achieved an impressive uptick in impressions and conversions after implementing paid search via Microsoft Audience Ads. Delivering the right message to the right customers at the right time while blending naturally into consumers’ experiences on premium sites, Overstock experienced a 576 percent increase in click volume, a 1,247 percent increase in revenue and a 33 percent increase in advertising  spending. To put it in simpler terms, they had a successful year.

Advertising that’s targeted better works harder, and with data and personalization, the world of paid media becomes more effective each year. Whether you’re a market researcher gathering customer data, a publisher looking to increase revenue or a media buyer on the hunt for the next best ad, 2019 can be your year of big wins.

Erica Garza is an author, essayist and copywriter with over a decade of marketing experience writing about hospitality, health and lifestyle products. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.


  1. https://adexchanger.com/publishers/the-top-10-programmatic-publishers-of-2018/
  2. https://adespresso.com/blog/best-facebook-ad-campaigns/
  3. https://www.collectivebias.com/blog/2016/03/influencer-marketing-update-non-celebrity-influencers-10-times-likely-drive-store-purchases
  4. http://mediakix.com/2018/02/coca-cola-marketing-strategy-influencers-ambassadors/#gs.ZsZanARi
  5. https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/blog/6-of-the-most-memorable-digital-marketing-campaigns-of-2018
  6. https://www.retaildive.com/news/nike-takes-gamification-to-the-next-level-with-sneaker-try-on-game/519408/
  7. https://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com//en-us/insights/stories/overstock
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