Great Big Canvas Drives 400% Revenue Growth Via Paid Search

While many retailers aim to bolster their e-Commerce presence via organic search, Great Big Canvas went the extra mile to implement paid search. Although the online seller of prints, posters and art canvases only increased its ad spending 5%, adoption of the Bing Ads Editor search marketing platform enabled the brand to:

  • Drive 400% revenue growth since 2012;

  • Increase revenue 17% from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016; and

  • Increase return on ad spend (ROAS) by 30%.



Matt Fritz, Director of Acquisition Marketing at Great Big Canvas, noted that one of the retailer’s goals was to gain more “real estate” on search pages. Given that the retailer’s site has nearly 700,000 images with specific titles rather than brand names, a sophisticated search platform provides benefits to shoppers, since it can alert them of the search results of each individual keyword.

Upon using the Bing Ads Editor, the Great Big Canvas team was able to test broader, simple keywords such as “vintage art,” and detect how often, and when, potential shoppers searched using the phrase. Additionally, the platform enabled the team to expand its “keyword universe” — the total number of keywords and key phrases the company tracks. With these added testing capabilities, the brand saw higher traffic from long tail searches, which are highly specific keyword phrases such as “vintage automobile race poster.”

The move to a paid search platform also came from Great Big Canvas’ desire to have full control of specific keyword targets; language written within the ads; and campaign structure — all while gaining insights to improve online visibility. Additionally, the paid search method enabled the brand to monitor a quality score, which ranks the relevance of keywords, ad content and landing pages for search engine users.

To maximize its paid search benefits, the Great Big Canvas team performs a full-scale reevaluation of all its ad campaigns every Q1.

“Since we are approaching 700,000 images on GBC, we have to make sure we have full category exposure,” Fritz said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I’m working with my team right now to identify any new categories that have been curated and uploaded to the site that we don’t have keyword coverage for. Through Q2 and Q3, we fine tune everything, and then in Q4, we hold on and pray.”

Measuring Search Performance

To further improve efficiency and ROAS, the retailer has evaluated specific search queries matching its broad match keywords, using keyword triggers that detect when someone searches for that phrase, a similar phrase or misspellings. While advertisers often steer away from broad match keywords, Great Big Canvas found them to be valuable for eliminating irrelevant traffic and discovering new keywords.

With the Bing Ads Editor, Great Big Canvas measured search performance by hour of day and day of week, and was able to adjust its ad bidding strategy to capitalize on the level of search volume, purchase intent and conversion rate. The team even could adjust bidding strategies on different devices based on the rate of return on desktop versus mobile.

Fritz admitted that he had underestimated the potential success of paid search prior to working with Bing. Being a firm believer in the philosophy that it takes money to make money, he didn’t expect the revenue boost and return to be so lucrative.

“While we were expanding the keyword universe, we were working on refining what search terms were matching to those keywords, and getting more promotional in our ad creation to help improve conversion rate and engagement,” Fritz said. “My expectation was that it would grow proportionally. If you spend 10% more, you should see a 10% incremental lift. But account efficiencies and identifying exact search terms, and focusing more on the ad messaging itself, has allowed us to increase that rate of return.”

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