Unlocking Success: Fashion Marketing on the Open Internet

With Spring/Summer Fashion Week in full swing, the traditional spotlight on the extravagant runways isn’t the sole focus anymore. The costs associated with hosting a show have skyrocketed, often ranging from $125,000 to well over $300,000, not even considering the price of samples. For many fashion brands, this expense is simply out of reach.

In a bid to gain visibility without breaking the bank, fashion brands can turn to the open internet. By strategically placing their ads alongside the latest news and updates from these iconic runways, brands can now not only associate themselves with Fashion Week without the hefty price tag, but also further their reach to new, highly engaged audiences.

The Balancing Act: Navigating Performance Marketing and Brand Building

One of the significant challenges that fashion brands are currently facing is striking the right balance between performance marketing and brand building. According to BoF, relying too heavily on social media as a primary sales-driving tool has proven to be less effective and cost-efficient for fashion brands. The declining returns on paid social and search channels have forced marketers to rethink their strategies and explore alternative channels that reach customers further down the marketing funnel, such as the open internet, where purchase intent is higher. Social fashionistas are in fact 85% more likely to find out about new brands and products through ads in online magazines or newspapers, compared to all internet users (GWI, 2022). Fashion brands are therefore turning to open internet advertising platforms to fuel lower funnel conversions and address this shifting landscape. For example, fashion label Marc O’Polo effectively engaged its target audience and achieved a return-on-ad-spend of up to 1500% via the Outbrain platform.

Succeeding in the balancing act requires marketers to ensure that they don’t neglect the importance of brand building, even in economically turbulent times. Consistent investment also in upper funnel campaigns is essential for sustainable growth and customer loyalty, even when immediate sales impact is not readily measurable.

As fashion brands seek more accountability and measurability from their marketing efforts, they are also looking to consolidate their spend with fewer partners. Our new open internet branding platform, Onyx by Outbrain™, signals our expansion to a true full-funnel advertising partner. Leveraging our heritage in driving concrete engagement and outcomes in the lower funnel, to driving true attention in the upper funnel.

Harnessing First-Party Data Through Contextual Advertising 

In the pursuit of creating meaningful and lasting relationships with consumers, fashion brands are pivoting towards first-party data, finding a greater return on investment with channels that provide opportunities for brands to create direct relationships with customers. Platforms with strong publisher relationships can provide this valuable data through which brands can enhance precision targeting and return on ad spend.

Value is at the forefront when it comes to the exchange of data, according to a recent poll, over 50% of customers said they are more likely to share data if they receive something in exchange. With in-context ads being more informative, clear, easy to read and interesting, the consumer receives greater value, thereby strengthening trust between audiences and brands.

When we combine the power of contextual advertising with advanced AI, we unlock even greater potential for enhancing the consumer experience and campaign outcomes. This fusion empowers fashion brands to curate ad inventory in alignment with the specific KPIs of their campaigns, resulting in a 92% increase in accuracy compared to traditional targeting methods.

Building Trust and Clarity in Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability continues to be a core theme in the fashion industry, with 80% of US consumers valuing it when choosing apparel. Brands have responded by highlighting sustainability in their marketing initiatives, but consumers still struggle to understand and trust these efforts due to the greenwashing practices and information overloads. In fact, 42% of American consumers were unsure what makes clothing sustainable, and a whopping 88% didn’t trust brands’ sustainability claims. 

Sponsored recommendations on editorial web environments offer a solution. They are 24% more trusted than those on social media and are easier to read. This makes them a reliable and comprehensible source for consumers looking to make sustainable fashion choices.

Crafting Captivating Experiences

The demand for diverse, high-quality content is at an all-time high, prompting brands to invest in in-house creative talent or forge collaborations with specialized agencies. With the need for brands to also look for alternative methods and channels to engage their audiences, Outbrain’s Brand Studio emerges as a valuable asset, using data-led creatives to re-imagine and better mobile experiences for a new era of engagement.

In a landscape where personalization is often the key to conveying that coveted ‘high fashion’ feel, creative agencies are continually challenged to stretch the digital canvas and create custom experiences that resonate deeply with audiences. Brand Studio successfully delivered this unique creative approach to DS Automobiles, who partnered with Paris Fashion Week and sought to recreate that ‘high fashion’ feel online to introduce the luxurious details and technology of the DS-4 to the market.

Creative services that use data-led approaches, such as our Brand Studio, offer fashion brands the unparalleled ability to push creative boundaries and captivate audiences through innovative storytelling and cutting-edge technology. Breuninger, a fashion and lifestyle company known for setting high standards across its product categories for over 140 years, is among the growing number of brands looking to Brand Studio to transform its online presence into measurable outcomes.

“Working with Brand Studio for our Spring/Summer campaign was a pioneering experience. Their collaboration brought a fresh perspective, crafting custom-designed experiences that engaged open internet audiences and elevated our brand building goals. Utilizing non-standard display formats, and the strategic blending of existing creative assets in unique ways, has been instrumental at optimizing visibility in the digital realm. When time came for our new Autumn/Winter campaign, there was no question that we would re-engage Brand Studio to refresh and remake the ‘Swipe Away’ experience — now powered with the new, high-attention Onyx environments and technology.”

– Teresa Schmitt, Head of Performance Marketing, Breuninger

The landscape of fashion marketing on the open internet is marked by balance, value, a commitment to sustainability, and personalization. By embracing these trends and seizing the opportunities they present, fashion brands can unlock success and thrive in this evolving digital era.

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