The yoga and climbing retailer grew its sales with less discounting than the previous year thanks in part to better ad targeting.

When yoga and climbing gear retailer prAna began testing video retargeting ads on YouTube last year it expected the ads to be a loss leader that built brand awareness but didn’t drive shoppers to click to the retailer’s website.

But the video ads, which played before the YouTube video the consumer requested, generated a positive return on ad spend for the ads presented to consumers who had been to or the prAna YouTube channel. And that’s based on last-click attribution, which only counts a sale when it stems directly from a consumer clicking from the video, says Gary Penn, the retailer’s head of digital and global e-commerce. The video ads showcased athletes wearing its products in Iceland.

That success prompted the retailer to launch a second video ad pre-roll campaign over the holidays that showcased how the brand’s employees wear prAna products in their everyday lives. The performance exceeded those of the Iceland campaign—in fact, the pre-roll video ads performed roughly the same as retargeting display ads and outperformed display prospecting ads, Penn says.

Those results make sense, he says. “Videos are a more compelling medium than display ads,” he says. “They enable us to tell our story and to do so in a beautiful setting. That’s difficult to do in a banner ad.”

Using YouTube’s TrueView for Shopping format, which enables a retailer to showcase products in ads adjacent to the video, prAna drove shoppers to its site and its holiday gift guide, which also played an important role in its holiday efforts. From Nov. 3 to Dec 23, shoppers who interacted with prAna’s gift guide had a conversion rate 40% higher than those who didn’t, and their average order value was 8% higher.


The videos and gift guide helped the retailer post its biggest week ever for online sales the week of Thanksgiving. Moreover, it did so without the sharp discounting it offered in 2015.

“We know we can’t discount our way to success,” Penn says. “We grew our sales by improving our marketing programs and improving our customer experience.”

prAna is owned by Columbia Sportswear Co., No. 181 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide.