“That’s Christmas to Me,” the breakthrough album from a capella group Pentatonix, grew to become the defining Holiday album of 2014. Although it was released on October 16th, momentum continued to build through the holidays, with the album ultimately selling over 1 million copies before the end of the year. It was the fourth-best selling album of 2014.

RCA Records took a strategic approach to the album roll-out and marketing campaign, anticipating the biggest sales weeks during the holiday season and focusing the campaign accordingly. As the weeks passed, the album became a story, and an aggressive paid media campaign supported the organic buzz.

The campaign was unique in that the majority of the traffic drove to Amazon, and we were able to use Amazon’s affiliate program to directly track sales. Based on the demographics likely to purchase this album and the holiday gifting opportunity, it was a perfect campaign to drive to Amazon. Album sales were monitored on a daily basis, and the campaign was optimized based on which tactics were driving the best ROI. By seeing the numbers on a daily basis, this campaign moved from being a marketing expense to a profit and loss statement.


When the campaign first launched on November 21st, the focus was on search. The goal here was to get a baseline for the excitement surrounding the album. Within the first hour of the campaign running, there were over 100 search clicks at a CTR of 6.41%. After two days, we saw where search trends were taking us and expanded the scope of the campaign by adding in banner ads, pre-roll ads and Facebook ads.
Through Amazon’s affiliate program, we created unique tags for each of the different advertising tactics that were running. Amazon’s platform shows how many visitors landed on the Amazon page with a click from that tag for any given time frame, as well as how many direct sales occurred of that product. Throughout our campaign, we were keeping track on different tactics and their ROI’s – if a particular tactic was underperforming, we would shut it down.

The one constant throughout the campaign was search. On both desktop and mobile, we were able to stay active on key search terms at the top position on Google, which drove highly-qualified traffic to Amazon, where we saw strong conversion numbers.
Over the course of the campaign, search resulted in a 199.82% ROI. The campaign as a whole saw a 46% ROI. These numbers are based only on direct conversions, people who purchased the album in the session of their click.

  • Clicked on the ad, didn’t purchase immediately, but purchased at a later time
  • Saw the ad, didn’t click on it, but was still impacted and purchased later
  • Saw and clicked on the ad, but ended up buying at a different digital or physical retailer.
  • Although search ads remained the top converting tactic throughout the campaign, Facebook ads drove strong conversion rates and ROI as well. These ads targeted core fans of Pentatonix, as well as retargeting users who had visited the Pentatonix website.


Within an hour of launching the paid media campaign, it was clear that search volume was high and, with constant optimization, it would be possible to drive a large amount of traffic to retail at a reasonable CPC. As the holidays approached, we expected many spikes in search volume, based on appearances and a build in the story. By having an active search campaign running without daily caps, our campaign was able to ride with these spikes and spend based on level of interest every day.

By tracking conversions through Amazon’s affiliate tag, the campaign was able to be nimble, optimizing based on actual sales as opposed to traditional metrics like clicks, impressions and CPC. Every day, decisions were made on changes to the campaign, based on conversion data from the previous day. By seeing the ROI every day, the RCA team could make confident decisions on the effectiveness of the campaign, prove how valuable it was, and continue to fund it through the end of the holidays.

Joe Schlesinger
Written By:
Account Director
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