Purina decreases CPC by 11x and boosts ad recall with Sampler

The beloved pet food brand supercharged their digital ads with a free sample CTA and saw a huge boost in ad memorability despite the global decline in ad effectiveness

Program overview

Nestle Purina, is a household name known to virtually every North American pet owner. The 75 year old pet food brand was looking to introduce targeted consumers to their latest product innovation - their Fancy Feast Creamy Delight cat food infused with real milk. As with any new product launch, consumer education was a major key to success for the Purina team. They wanted to build a program that would not only catch consumers’ attention, but also allow the brand to educate consumers on ingredient benefits and increase purchase confidence. With the modern consumer under constant ad overload however, the Purina team started looking into a more impactful way to promote the new product.

The brand’s media agency partnered with Sampler to pair their Facebook and Instagram ads with a clever free sample incentive that drastically boosted ad performance and recall while capturing valuable data and insights. The digital ad featured a “claim your free sample” CTA, which invited highly engaged consumers to complete a short survey and determine their eligibility for the free product.

Pet owners who matched the targeted profile, would later get a box delivered to their doorstep with a sample for their furry friends to try at home as well as the option to leave their genuine feedback. The program saw impressive results compared to previous ads without a sampling incentive:


lower Cost-per-Click


higher ad recall


unique consumers reached

More program highlights

Using a free sample to boost ad recall

With the average consumer estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads a day, digital ads that were once highly effective are increasingly getting lost in a sea of indifference. Because ads aren’t having the same effect on consumers as they once did, brands like Purina are in need of ways to optimize them so they can truly capture the attention of their ideal consumer. By pairing a conventional ad with an enticing sampling CTA, Fancy Feast immediately boosted its ad memorability and impact with an impressive 5.5x higher ad recall than ads without it.

This impressive lift in ad recall highlights how digital advertising and a lower funnel tactic like sampling can work in harmony to break through the clutter and maximize its appeal and performance. It’s also a great way for CPG brands like Purina to create effective omni-channel experiences by tying in physical trial with their digital advertising tactics. This gives their consumers a unique opportunity to interact with the product at home and witness its value in real life. 

“Offering a free sample to your consumer is perceived as a gift and with that comes a sense of reciprocity. It shows a potential shopper that you value the time they took to check out your brand. With ad effectiveness across traditional digital and social ad formats decreasing, layering sampling CTAs onto media campaigns are proving a major impact on key metrics like clicks and ad recall even before consumers actually try the sample” - Morgan Kingdon - Director of Audience at Sampler

An enticing CTA that lowers Cost-per-Click

One of the key results of the Purina Fancy Feast program was the impressive decrease in their Cost-per-Click on ads that included a sampling CTA in comparison to those without it. With the online advertising landscape continuously changing, marketers are seeking ways to tweak their strategies and increase their campaign ROI. Ads leading to a post-click landing page with a high-value offer (like a free sample) has proven to be a successful way to drive down the cost per click. Creating this incentivizing value exchange of a free pet food sample was an effective way for Purina to encourage users to take action vs just scrolling past the ad.

With consumers craving unique experiences, digital ads featuring a sampling CTAs are vastly outperforming industry benchmarks which poses an exciting opportunity for CPGs to take their current adverts to new heights.

Valuable data capture

The addition of a brand new ingredient to Purina's recipe was bound to spark consumer feedback, and by leveraging Sampler, the team ensured they could keep an open line of communication with the consumers they just sampled to. In fact, Sampler enabled Purina to capture first-party data including email addresses which made it possible to continue brand building by nurturing claimants with educational content.

Sampler’s direct integrations with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms enabled Purina and its agency to seamlessly transfer all of the first-party data captured during the program. This paved the way for the team to build high-impact consumer journeys for those who tried and engaged with the product.

Building high-value consumer groups post-sampling

But the data collected on Sampler was not only limited to contact information. Those who claimed a sample provided powerful data ranging from demographics, to lifestyle and shopping preferences, and even ratings and reviews on their product experience. The deep consumer profile mixed with the feedback enabled Purina to glean high-value insights. In fact, 80% of sample claimants stated an intent to purchase the product post-trial and positive feedback showed great reception to the new product. What was invaluable to see was how various consumer segments described the product differently and how certain subsegments were more likely to convert to a purchase.  This newly acquired data and feedback helps brands paint a clearer picture of the high-value consumers that are most likely to convert and remain loyal to the brand in the long-term.

One of the immense benefits of a digital sampling program is the creation of this highly engaged group of potential shoppers. Director of Partnerships at Sampler, Trey Geiger says:

“Shoppers who are programmatically retargeted after engaging with a brand through product sampling are much more likely to engage in traditional media than those who haven’t yet sampled.” 

At Sampler we found that after layering Sampler user data to retarget and create lookalike audiences from lists of users that have already sampled similar products can lead to a decrease of 65% in cost per click despite the declining effectiveness of ads industry wide. This represents a massive opportunity for brands like Purina to optimize their spend and redirect it towards strategies that will reach the highest-value consumers and reap the greatest returns.


In a time where digital ad effectiveness is declining and consumers are less inspired to engage and purchase through the ads they’re used to, digital product sampling is a powerful lever for brands to break through the clutter. Offering a free product sample is an incentive proven to be worthy of a consumers’ attention, allowing brands like Purina to optimize their ad spend and build a direct line of communication with their highest-value audience. The first-party data, genuine consumer feedback, and remarketing capabilities set the groundwork for a long-lasting (and profitable) relationship with consumers.


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