Merlin Cycles needed to maximise advertising budget efficiency while targeting both new customers – including shoppers in a new market, the US – as well as previous buyers who had not purchased in an extended period of time.

The challenge

Merlin Cycle’s unique technical infrastructure had previously prevented the online bicycle shop from effortlessly working with third-party, data-driven advertising solutions.

However, the need to drive online sales at a reasonable marketing cost – both in its home UK market as well as in new markets such as the US –meant that Merlin Cycles needed to find a clean and simple online advertising solution to help them to achieve these goals.

The strategy

Programmatic buying (RTB)

Sociomantic’s proprietary real-time bidder analyses real-time user profiles in combination with streams of shop, performance, and yield data to calculate the perfect price for each display ad impression while optimising campaigns to Merlin Cycles’ cost-of-sale goals.

Dynamic creative optimisation

For each impression won, Sociomantic’s product recommendation engine programmatically personalises the banner in a matter of milliseconds, helping Merlin Cycles to increase revenues by showing customers viewed products in addition to related new offers that drive clicks and conversions.

Custom segmentation

Sociomantic worked with Merlin Cycles to refine strategies for targeting different customer segments, enabling the retailer to differentiate ROI targets and messaging mechanisms for existing, new and dormant customers.

Facebook Exchange

As a certified Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD), Sociomantic enabled Merlin Cycles to reach users on the world’s most popular social network with individually personalised adverts, significantly expanding the overall reach and visibility of the brand.

Custom-designed banner frameworks

To create presence in the US, a market where Merlin Cycles had limited brand equity, Sociomantic’s in-house design team approached the growth market with custom-tailored localised banners.

The results

While programmatic advertising can seem complex and intimidating, Merlin Cycles discovered that using data to see an increase in revenue, at a sustainable marketing cost, is an incredibly straightforward process to set up.

Successful results from the initial UK retargeting campaign prompted Merlin Cycles to launch additional campaigns in international markets across previously untapped inventory sources such as Facebook.

Initial launch

Sociomantic reached Merlin Cycle’s cost-of-sale target by week three of the partnership. Since launching in the UK, the main retargeting campaign yielded an average click-through rate of 0.594% and an average conversion rate of 7.096%, driving significant incremental volumes of post-click sales.

Facebook reach

These favourable results prompted a high-visibility and standalone Facebook Exchange (FBX) campaign, which delivered additional revenue to the same cost-of-sale goals. Since its UK launch, the FBX campaign yielded an average click-through rate of 0.282% and an average conversion rate of 4.029%.

US market launch

Sociomantic and Merlin Cycles launched further campaigns in new territories, expanding into the US market and accessing a brand-new American customer-base.


“With Merlin Cycles currently enjoying increasing global reach, I am pleased to say implementing real-time and data-driven digital advertising with Sociomantic is a straightforward and valuable service that offers demonstrable ROI.

“The flexibility and transparency of Sociomantic’s solutions prompted a subsequent expansion of the partnership into the US market, where we were able to access brand-new customers using personalised dynamic advertisements across high-visibility channels such as Facebook. Since launching our partnership, Sociomantic’s programmatic technology has brought Merlin Cycles gainful results at a low cost-of-sale.” – Chris Naughton, eCommerce Manager, Merlin Cycles.

“Compared to some of the other third-party solutions I have worked with, Sociomantic provides a much simpler process, complementing our own operation.”

“Their tracking codes were easy to implement into our bespoke system. Little internal resource was required from integration and design, through to going live. Moreover, Sociomantic’s ongoing support eased any queries and concerns quickly.” – Neil Hamilton, Web Developer & IT Specialist, Merlin Cycles.