Using PPC strategy to optimise the return Illy receives from Paid Ads

An internationally recognisable brand, illy’s online store distributes coffee machines, beans and accessories to both the B2B and B2C markets. They were already using Google Search and Shopping ads, but weren’t getting the results they needed.




Digital Performance, Google Shopping Ads, Paid Search Ads



Project Brief

Illy approached us with a poorly performing Google Ads account. They were using Google Search Ads and Google Shopping Ads, but couldn’t understand why their sales were low and their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) was minimal.

The Zinc PPC team were tasked to analyse and improve the current strategy to find what was causing these results. As an e-commerce business, illy needed to sell more coffee machines and beans without spending more money on a PPC strategy that wasn’t delivering results for them.

  • Build upon PPC campaign in place
  • Diagnose causes of poor return and overspending
  • Analyse competing businesses
  • Increase the sales & revenue
  • Improve the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

The Challenge

Although illy are a well-known name in their industry, there is a high level of equally well-known competition that the previous strategy wasn’t performing against. When we began this project, their paid advertising was delivering a ROAS of 130%. This is just £1.30 returned for every £1 spent.

Challenges are an opportunity to test you and rise to the next level.

The Solution

With a client who is already implementing a PPC campaign, our first port of call is a full account audit. This allows us to analyse the way the site is structured and find weaknesses that are causing wasted spend. From this, we found that the structure, attribution and bidding strategies were all contributing to the poor performance. To solve these issues our team implemented a new attribution model that correctly tracked the user journey, an AI based SMART bidding method, and enhanced e-commerce analytics tracking to ensure that our client had a full insight into the campaign performance. We then began an ongoing partnership with illy, allowing the team to measure, adapt and improve the campaign as it continued.

  • Full paid search account audit
  • Revisit attribution models
  • Implement SMART bidding
  • Advanced Analytics e-commerce tracking
  • Ongoing monitoring, testing and improvement

Advanced SMART bidding

SMART bidding is a method that uses automation to allow us to use valuable AI Technology provided by Google to refine strategy into the most profitable model. The SMART bidding technique we chose utilises conversion history to show ads to the right people at the right time.

Enhanced e-commerce tracking

In e-commerce, the more insight into buyer behaviour the better. With the enhanced e-commerce plugin, we’re able to monitor product impressions & views, promotional performance and behavioural patterns sitewide.

Moving beyond last-click attribution

In our audit, we discovered that 25% of revenue was generated from a customer journey with more than 1 click on a paid advert. This can be a big contributor to a low ROAS. The information presented the opportunity to change the way we attribute credit. By sharing attribution between multiple ads, we could discover the true value of the search queries being used in Search and Shopping ads.

The Results

By the end of Q2 we saw exponential improvement and soon the account was not only achieving, but exceeding the targets set. We decreased the cost to the client by 37%, yet increased revenue by 81% as a result of the 154% increase in conversion rate. Our focus on ROAS paid off with a 185% increase, resulting in a £5.59 return for every £1 spent. This was as a direct result of the SMART bidding methods and a more hands-on management of the account, preventing wasted spend before it has the chance to happen. With the support of an effective strategy and a proactive team, the illy Paid Ads became their primary source of traffic and revenue.


conversion rate increase


increase in revenue


increase in transactions

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