Our Work

When budgets are tight, can Kaizen programmatic deliver growth?

Kaizen programmatic prospecting ads deliver
growth in site users and 20% growth in sales
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Cult Pens is the UK’s leading website for pens, pencils and fine writing fountain pens. They have a range of over 27,000 products from over 100 of the world's finest writing and drawing brands, and are  recommended by customer services departments at Pilot Pen, Uni-ball, Pentel, Zebra, Staedtler, Stabilo and Faber-Castell.

Cult Pens’ first-party audiences had reduced, and they were looking for a way to encourage new users to their site in order to restart growth in their audiences and avoid ad fatigue among their customer base.

While they had been running Kaizen display remarketing activity with us for some time, they had not run any prospecting activity with Kaizen before, and this seemed like an ideal opportunity to test the strategy.

  • Increase reach and brand awareness
  • Drive new users to the site
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Our Approach

As Cult Pens had not previously run any programmatic prospecting activity through Kaizen, we were provided with a test budget that we needed to work within.  To launch the test we designed six different target audiences which matched their target market demographics. We used custom affinity and custom intent lists for these, based on a carefully curated selection of publisher URLs and keywords.

While third-party audience lists can be helpful for targeting display campaigns in some circumstances, the CPM fees involved in purchasing the third-party data increase overall CPMs. Due to the restrictive budget it was not appropriate to overlay these audiences in this case.

To ensure the prospecting ads only reached new users, we excluded Cult Pens’ existing first-party audience lists from the campaign. Unfortunately due to increasingly strict limits on the lifetime of cookies in browsers like Safari and FireFox, we knew this approach would not exclude everyone who had visited the Cult Pens site before. To compensate for this, we also implemented bowser targeting rules and set strict frequency caps from day one, expanding reach among new users as much as possible with the budget available.

The prospecting activity began in December 2022, continuing through January and February 2023. Once the campaign had been live for a week, we analysed the performance data and implemented a raft of optimisations which helped to maximise click-through-rate, driving as many new users as possible to the Cult Pens website.

Over time we continued to optimise at regular intervals and refocused the budget on the most efficient audiences.

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The Kaizen display prospecting campaign successfully generated an overall uplift in new site users. New user visits from all sources including display activity increased 7% year-on-year.

This overall figure is a significant metric, as many new users will have been encouraged to visit the site or search for a relevant term by seeing an ad, rather than clicking directly on a display ad. (This type of new user visits, while driven by display, will be attributed to other channels in GA as the display ad was not the last click.)

This overall year-on-year lift in new users demonstrates the impact of display prospecting in raising brand awareness and encouraging new users to visit the site by assisting ad interactions on other channels. An overall increase in new site users of 7% may seem modest to some advertisers, but bear in mind that prior to the prospecting campaign going live, new user visits had been steadily declining for some time. A small investment in Kaizen display was able to turn this net loss into a consistent net gain.

In keeping with the Kaizen philosophy of iterative improvement and optimisation over time, the prospecting activity delivered improved results with each subsequent month. There had not been any Kaizen display prospecting activity live prior to December, but thanks to our continued optimisations the January period saw new user visits from display rise 21%, and a further 33% in February.

The prospecting test also had a positive impact on sales, with weekly purchases attributed to display activity increasing by 20% between the first full week of activity and the last.

Overall the test was a big success, with Cult Pens continuing to invest in Kaizen prospecting activity. We’ve continued to see growth in sales and ROI from display since the end of the test, demonstrating the power of market-making display ads at driving brand awareness to support retargeting activity.


  • Over 8,000,000 impressions delivered
  • 7% increase in new site users from all sources Year On Year
  • Weekly sales from display activity increased by 20%

The client was pleaseed with the growth achieved.

Claire Durney, Director, Cult Pens said:

I am absolutely delighted with the results of equimedia’s Programmatic Prospecting campaign. Despite a tight budget, we’ve seen impressive growth in site users and sales through media, and their attention to detail in targeting and optimisation really paid off. The team’s approach and philosophy of iterative improvement really resonated with us, and we have continued to invest in prospecting activity as a result."

7% increase in new site users Year on Year

Weekly sales from dispaly activity increased by 20%

8,000,000 impressions delivered

Interested in seeing what we can do for you? Get in touch and let us know about your requirements today.

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