in Data & Insights

#TheDress is blue, but what does real time advertising really look like?

Quantcast and our long-term client Roman Originals were recently featured in a Marketing Magazine article that took a deeper look at the advertising that went on behind #TheDress – a story that was hard to miss.

But just in case you did miss it: On Wednesday, February 25, a little-known Scottish singer posted a picture of a dress to Tumblr asking (she and her friends couldn’t decide) whether it was white and gold or blue and black.

Not exactly the biggest news story of the decade … except it almost was, and by Friday not just the Internet but even international news stations were asking, “Blue and black or gold and white?” For one party in the debate – Roman Originals, the manufacturer of the dress and a long-term Quantcast customer – the answer was obvious: blue and black, just like the actual dress. However, the story did raise other questions: What does this mean for us and how can we use it?

The nature of viral Internet trends is no different than any trend on the Internet – they happen constantly and all too commonly are missed. You need to have the ability to spot these trends and be able to react to them. In the case of the dress, Romans turned to Quantcast.

According to Quantcast data, on Friday the 27th product detail pages were seeing a lift in visits of over 3000% on the average, and thanks to this real time data both Quantcast and Romans were able to make some quick decisions to react to this unplanned phenomenon. Off the back of the data they launched an ad containing a gif of the dress changing color and the hashtag (#TheDress). The ad either informed people it was back in stock or invited them to join the debate. This ad was then served to anyone in the target population for Romans.


The ad Quantcast built for Romans in reaction to #TheDressThe ad was launched on Friday afternoon. Because of the relevance to current events, it garnered a CTR 20% higher than the average Romans ad over the weekend. This activity is a great example of relevant advertising driving customer engagement.

Not only did engagement with the ad and the Romans website skyrocket, they saw an increase in conversions of 182%.

In digital advertising it is important to remember that there is a time and place for every ad and we shouldn’t just serve ads to everyone in the general population. However, it is equally important that when an opportunity arises marketers should have the ability to see it, understand it and react to it in a timely manner.

This is a glimpse into the future of digital advertising where ads are built in reaction to the latest external trends, tech that can read the Internet and present a great creative option – the future is closer than you think.

Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate