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Papa John’s Case Study: Location-based Mobile Strategy

Established pizza delivery company, Papa John’s, implements a mobile and cross-device strategy using location-based targeting.

Papa John's Case Study Image


Papa John’s is the third largest pizza delivery company in the world, yet in the UK its main challenge is brand awareness. The brand has had huge success in the US, with its larger-than-life owner and founder, John ‘Papa’ Schnatter whose huge personality has helped catapult the brand to success. However, moving across borders to the UK has presented its challenges and the rags-to-ruins story of Papa John himself doesn’t have the same impact for the brand in the more cynical UK market. Nevertheless, the product speaks for itself and, as such, Papa John’s is increasingly stealing market share.


As part of its expansion plan in the UK, Papa John’s was tasked with opening a brand new store in the city of York, a region it had never ventured into before. The aim wasn’t to drive footfall into the store, as over 50% of Papa John’s pizzas in the UK are ordered from a customer’s desktop or mobile device. In this instance, the objective was to raise brand awareness and drive sales through digital devices.

Two key considerations were identified which influenced the strategy: the nature of the pizza takeaway business, as online browsing plays a huge role in the consumer purchase journey as does lifestyle and mind-set, and reaching the right audience at the right time. Papa John’s needed to raise brand awareness in a smart, cost-efficient way whilst also targeting relevant consumers – using a combination of precision and reach. Furthermore, the delivery distance of the store was 3 miles, so there was the added challenge of narrowing the reach within this perimeter.


It was determined that the best approach was to use a combination of a hyper-local mobile-only campaign layered with a cross-device campaign. By leveraging Rakuten Marketing proprietary Lat/Long display targeting technology Papa John’s was able to accurately identify and reach consumers within the desired 3 mile radius around the new store. Papa John’s layered solutions and campaigns to achieve consumer coverage at different stages of the purchase journey, as well as across devices to ensure the net was cast tight over the narrow geo-fenced area in York.

The pizza delivery giant used a mixture of Rakuten Marketing’s display prospecting and retargeting solutions to reach the most engaged and relevant target audience. Using these methods Papa John’s ensured that only the most receptive users to the brand’s message within the catchment area were targeted.

The cross-device campaign was layered on top. Engaged consumers across screens were also retargeted, and thanks to Rakuten Marketing’s machine learning technology Papa John’s was able to identify the most opportune moments to serve ads.

Both campaigns were refined further by targeting consumers based on time of day – when a customer is most likely to purchase and thus drive conversions.


Papa John’s achieved strong results using a comprehensive mobile-first and cross-device prospecting and retargeting strategy to connect with engaged consumers. Leveraging proprietary technology, Papa John’s experienced measurable returns:

  • Retargeting cross-device solution: 22-1 ROAS
  • Prospecting solution on mobile:  2-1 ROAS