Success Story


SmartWool Case Study

“Rocket Fuel helped us reach a very specialized audience – people who demand the highest level of performance from their gear. Coupled with Backbone Media’s strategic planning and research, the Rocket Fuel product exceeded our expectations and helped us blow up Q4.”

Steve Metcalf
Global Director of Strategic Communications SmartWool, LLC

Metric Image


Raise awareness, advertise seasonal promotions


Finding a specialized, niche audience

Product Used

Rocket Fuel for Direct Response, Channel: Social


Founded over 20 years ago and based in Steamboat Springs, CO, SmartWool is widely regarded as the global category leader in Merino-based performance socks and apparel. SmartWool® products are inspired by living and playing in the mountains and are created to get the most out of the inherent benefits of Merino wool fiber. Merino has incredible temperature-regulation properties – keeping athletes warm when it’s cool, and cool when it’s warm. These premium garments are soft and comfortable, machine washable/dryable, and 100% guaranteed. When SmartWool’s agency, Backbone Media, wanted to amp up SmartWool’s online performance and help boost its brand for partner retailers, it contacted Rocket Fuel. Rocket Fuel had performed exceptionally well reaching specialized audiences for Backbone Media in the past, so the agency knew it could help them zero in on the premium-performance-apparel customers it was after.


  • Raise awareness of the SmartWool brand
  • Capitalize on consumer intent for both retail partners and its online store
  • Advertise and generate traffic for seasonal programs: “Socktober” (October), “Climate Control” (November), and “Holiday” (November/December)


  • Reassert SmartWool’s unique brand presence as top-of-the-line Merino performance apparel
  • Generate participation in SmartWool’s seasonal activations
  • Demonstrate conversion for both partner retailers and through


  • This was Backbone’s first attempt running a media program tracking the SmartWool CPA; its aggressive initial goal was $30. The three Rocket Fuel programs achieved an eCPA of $25.41; 15.29% better than goal.
  • The Climate Control campaign received incremental three times throughout the flight, achieving a final overall CPA of $19.58; 34.73% better than goal.

Product Used

  • Rocket Fuel for Direct Response
    • Chnnel: Social

Why Rocket Fuel?

  • Previous Rocket Fuel performance
  • As the program advanced, performance got increasingly better. Result: Repeated renewals

Big Data Audience Discoveries

When advertisers work with Rocket Fuel, their advertising learns and improves. What did we learn about the ideal audience for SmartWool? They tend to be:

  • Males with an HHI of $150K+
  • Colorado residents, followed closely by Wyoming, had the highest conversion rate lift in the U.S.

Popular Content Categories

  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Running/Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Camping/Hiking