Pencil And: Sephora

Key results

  • Up to 1.5x higher CTR observed
  • About 70k products per feed per market, with an average of 3 background designs per market, for a total of approx. 210k assets generated and run

Challenge & hypothesis

The main hypothesis was that "jazzing up" product imagery in product feeds would make DPA ads (which are among the highest performing for us) more thumb-stopping in the feed and result in higher CTRs. We know creative optimization can help increase CTR of ads, which has significant impact on the downstream conversion metrics.


Up to 1.5x higher CTR observed, leading to decreased a CPA that works in favor of the Performance Marketing teams optimization goal of increasing ROAS. 


Pencil was used by Sephora's paid media team to:

  • Ingest a product feed of 50,000+ images in Google Sheet format
  • Remove the white/lightly shadowed backgrounds from the feed's low-resolution product images and apply new full-bleed backgrounds provided by Sephora's creative team
  • Export the updated product images to a Facebook catalogue used for multiple DPA campaigns
  • Keep new products or metadata appeaing in the original product feed synced to the Facebook catalogue including background removal/design application as needed
  • Upon results being significant for the DPA campaigns, allowing the team to change the design to a new one to continuously test creative at "feed scale"

Impact on CTR was highest for ads that were curated for theme, product set featured and targeting. However, ad fatigue for this may occur and lead to a decline in CTR after an extended period.

For other ads with backgrounds applied, most markets observed increased CTR but select few markets like HK/PH were not as successful in the tests. Constant testing is required!

In addition to replacing backgrounds of product images for DPA ads, AI-generated captions on DPA ads were also tested. Both techniques showed positive results across multiple markets and campaigns.


“We’ve used Pencil’s creative AI to generate over 200,000 images for use in Dynamic Product Ads that led to CTR improvement of 50% and more, thereby boosting the ROAS of our campaigns.”

  • Joan Tan, Assistant Manager, Mobile Marketing, Sephora Digital SEA

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