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L'Oréal Canada Finds Beauty in Programmatic Buying

While global sales of L’Oréal Luxe makeup brand Shu Uemura were booming, reaching its U.S. target audience proved challenging. By collaborating with Karl Lagerfeld (and his cat, Choupette) and using Display & Video 360 and Analytics Premium, the company nearly doubled anticipated revenue.


  • Re-introduce and raise awareness of the Shu Uemura cosmetics brand in North America
  • Drive North American sales of Karl Lagerfeld’s Shupette collection for Shu Uemura
  • Grow the Shu Uemura email subscriber list


  • Used programmatic buying to lead prospects down the path to purchase
  • Organized website audiences with Analytics Premium
  • Leveraged a range of audience data in Display & Video 360 to buy paid media in display and social channels


  • Drove almost 2X the anticipated revenue
  • Exceeded CPA targets and achieved a 2,200% return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Increased web traffic and email subscribers

Bringing Shu Uemura back to North America

Shu Uemura is a L’Oréal Luxe makeup brand created in 1983 by Shu Uemura, a pioneering Japanese makeup artist known worldwide. Shu Uemura was acquired by L’Oréal in 2004 after gaining considerable recognition. Although the brand saw booming sales internationally, reaching its target audience in the U.S. and Canada proved to be a challenge. In 2010, stagnant sales caused L’Oréal to pull the brand from U.S. storefronts. Now, the brand must drive North American sales without a physical point of purchase in the U.S. and with limited distribution in Canada.

"Display & Video 360 shows a CPA close to search, which is our best channel. By comparing programmatic and search, we can definitely say that programmatic buying leads to high ROI."

Each year, Shu Uemura releases a coveted limited edition cosmetics collection created in collaboration with an accomplished artist. For its latest collection, L’Oréal collaborated with artist Karl Lagerfeld (and his cat, Choupette) to release the Shupette line. L’Oréal saw an opportunity to increase sales of the brand by sharing the line with a younger generation of shoppers in North America. With just a website and limited brand awareness, Shu Uemura needed a way to lead North American consumers along the path to purchase, from awareness to conversion. The brand turned to Display & Video 3601 and Analytics Premium2 to get a unified solution for managing website audiences and programmatic buying.

The makings of a beautiful outcome: Data + programmatic

Shu Uemura’s e-commerce team of Jasmine Bouchard and Adam Van Vlaardingen needed a way to target the right people—mostly women between 25 and 30 who had previously purchased luxury beauty products online—at the right point in the funnel. They turned to Analytics Premium to organize their consumer data and Google’s Display & Video 360 to activate with their media buys, helping Shu Uemura lead prospects from awareness to conversion.

Shu Uemura started the Shupette campaign with an awareness and consideration phase designed to increase website traffic and grow its email subscriber list. As an Analytics Premium customer, the company was able to tap into a list of users who had already visited its site. Next, the company connected its analytics account to Display & Video 360 to use this data to reach both existing and potential customers—those who had visited a L’Oréal web property and those who looked like them, using look-alike modeling.

L'Oréal's Strategy: The Phases

Phase 1

Prospecting: Link Analytics Premium with Display & Video 360 to leverage existing audience data.

Email Acquisition: Recruit new prospects with targeted social and display ads via opt-in form.

Retargeting: Retarget at opportune moments and serve ads according to intent to submit email or make a purchase

Phase 2

Look-alike Audience: Target existing and new audiences from prospecting (including look-alike audiences).

Conversion: Retarget and serve creative based on each phase to convert, then repeat.


Finally, Shu Uemura exposed these audiences to different creatives, depending on where they were along the path to purchase, as evidenced by their site behavior. With a solid setup offered by Google, the company was able to balance prospecting and remarketing tactics across programmatic buys.

After developing momentum in the awareness and consideration phase of the campaign via increased website traffic and email subscribers, Shu Uemura moved into the second and final phase of the campaign, the acquisition phase. In this phase, Shu Uemura used Display & Video 360 to remarket the Shupette line to its past website visitors across exchanges, including Google Ad Manager and Facebook Exchange. Using Analytics Premium, Shu Uemura was able to determine which products past visitors were interested in and present them either with particular products from the Shupette line or an offer to win the entire collection.

Boosting conversions and driving purchases

By combining first-party data with programmatic buying, L’Oréal’s Shu Uemura was able to deliver targeted messages to the right consumers, leading to more engagement with the ads and, ultimately, more purchases. The campaign drove almost 2X the revenue anticipated. The remarketing tactics achieved a 2,200% ROAS in the acquisition phase of the campaign and exceeded all CPA targets. In the U.S., the CPA exceeded target by 73% and was just 13% more than the CPA of paid search, which has performed very well for L’Oréal. Khoi Truong, director of analytics and media at L’Oréal Canada, says: “Display & Video 360 shows a CPA close to search, which is our best channel. By comparing programmatic and search, we can definitely say that programmatic buying leads to high ROI.”

In addition to direct financial results, the unified solution made managing a media campaign much easier and more flexible for Shu Uemura. In the past, Shu Uemura had difficulty coordinating its buy across all its key media partners. The ability to centralize all buying for this campaign in Display & Video 360 provided huge efficiencies in workflow and eliminated a number of meetings that used to take place to coordinate the buy. Unification also empowered frequency capping, which reduced waste and drove up the ROAS.

The real-time tie between website audience data and media buying was something Shu Uemura hadn’t had before, and the company found that it made a big difference on customer acquisition. The transparency made it easy for the company to see what was working and make changes in real time. During an early phase of the campaign, for example, L’Oréal noticed that the U.S. was performing better than Canada, so it shifted tactics accordingly. By utilizing programmatic with Display & Video 360, Shu Uemura was able to use fresh insights to update its strategy mid-flight, maximizing its success of the limited edition collection.

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