Web-only retailer Purple has humorous video ads as the lynchpin of its marketing strategy, which has helped the nascent retailer attain profitability.

Video ads let web-only mattress retailer Purple Innovation LLC tell consumers about its products with the aim of also entertaining them.

This education plus entertainment formula has worked, as the retailer generated an Internet Retailer-estimated $75 million in web sales in 2016, and is profitable to boot, says Bryant Garvin, Purple’s director of digital marketing. Not bad for a retailer that launched its e-commerce site, onpurple.com, in January 2016.

Purple has about 30 videos that it has promoted in the past 18 months, and those include a handful of customer videos. In total, Purple’s videos have received 500 million views in the 18 months the retailer has been operating.

The retailer creates a combination of “hero” videos, which are a few minutes long and explain a product in detail, and “sidekick videos,” which are typically shorter, have a smaller budget and are focused on a specific audience. For example, Purple created a Super Bowl-related video that talked about crying yourself to sleep in a comfortable bed, and it marketed the video to consumers in the Atlanta area because the National Football League Atlanta Falcons lost the big game.


“We educate consumers in a way that they don’t realize they are watching an ad, and most of the time we do that with humor and tapping into that emotion” Garvin says.

And videos are a natural way to do that, Garvin says. “With a search ad, no one says, ‘Oh my gosh, that made me laugh out loud,’ or, ‘That text ad made me so emotional,’” he says.

“If you can engage people on that emotional level with a video, the more likely [it is] they’ll stick around and learn more about your brand and eventually purchase your product,” he adds.

Before Purple, No. 351 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, heavily markets its videos it first tests them on YouTube and Facebook.


The retailer will create five to six different intros—or the first few seconds of the video before consumers can skip it on YouTube or decide if they want to watch it—to see which intro best captures consumer attention. Purple measures engagement by how long a consumer watches it and if she clicks through to the website. Similarly, Purple also creates five to six “outros,” or the last few seconds of the video ad when the retailer is delivering its call-to-action for consumers, Garvin says.

Once the retailer decides on the full video content, it markets the ad on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and uses advertising retargeting platform AdRoll to display the video on other platforms, Garvin says.

Because many consumers visit Facebook and YouTube on a smartphone, Purple has a large share of traffic—about 80%—coming from mobile devices. And even though Purple has a high-ticket product—a mattress costs about $1,000—mobile accounts for 40% of its sales, Garvin says.

The retailer has noticed that shoppers frequently make a purchase close to what would be bed time locally for that shopper. Garvin believes this is because a shopper is in bed on her smartphone, finds herself uncomfortable and decides to make the purchase in that moment.


To ensure Purple is easy to use on a small screen, the retailer focuses on having a fast-loading site and has quick checkout buttons Apple Pay and Amazon Pay, Garvin says.

Purple targets shoppers in several ways: One uses Google and Facebook’s look alike audience feature, in which the companies use Purple’s customer data and then targets consumer with similar attributes and behavior. Purple also uses in-marketing advertising, which is when the retailer can target shoppers who have shown an interest, such as via search terms used or websites visited, in making a purchase related to home, garden or bedroom products.

Purple also targets consumers who may not be interested in buying a mattress or who don’t fit its typical customer demographic but who frequently share videos on Facebook, and one or more people in that consumer’s network is likely to be a potential customer, Garvin says.

Purple has an in-house video studio and two full time employee’s dedicated to video production.


Because the videos are mostly focused on explaining its products, Purple also posts the videos on its website. If a shopper watches a video on its e-commerce site, she is four times more likely to purchase than an average visitor, Garvin says.

Since launch, the retailer has grown to 600 employees from 30, Garvin says. The retailer also recently opened a 574,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Utah, which it built to keep up with orders, he says.