“In the age of wall gardens and pixel leakages, it became impossible to have unified measurement with MTA. With incrementality, we now have a way forth to understanding the true value of our marketing efforts that can inform our budget allocation and media mix.”
Yung Le, Director of Acquisition Marketing - Upwork


2018 brought a successful IPO and new growth for the Upwork team. But a marketing hurdle arose: how to align marketing measurement with accountable reporting on the true business impact of these programs. A priority focus was on how to identify and trim waste from their existing lead generation campaigns.

Upwork decided to focus first on a specific part of the marketing budget: the SEM brand keyword spend. Understanding this would be a great first step in tightening budget projections and would give more confidence in evaluating campaigns against new audience programs.


Upwork decided to tackle this challenge using Kenshoo’s Impact Navigator.

Performing a true incrementality test is normally difficult. Different audience groups need to be divided into tests and holdouts. Data streams for measurement need to be ingested and normalized. Daily and weekly monitoring controls are needed to manage test cost, confidence levels and hygiene for the resulting analysis.

Impact Navigator helped Upwork plan for the test by analyzing thousands of possible city and DMA-based geographic audience segments, determined look-alike prospect populations, and analyzed overlap of separate brand programs executing in market on other channels.

Upwork began to measure SEM brand incrementality and expected to run the test for eight weeks. Regular reports from Impact Navigator helped Upwork track the test performance controls, confidence levels, and measurement volume, which resulted in completing the test on time and with sufficient confidence levels for accurate measurement.

The Results

Upwork confirmed that their brand spend was indeed incremental! Using the precise values of key metrics surfaced by Impact Navigator, Upwork validated their hypotheses and realigned their SEM cost-per-acquisition bids according to these new insights.

Most importantly, Impact Navigator gave Upwork the confidence that true business alignment with marketing programs was achievable, and Upwork is laying a foundation for future tests to improve marketing planning even further.

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  • Improve business planning by understanding the effectiveness of marketing campaigns for new audience growth programs.


  • Perform incrementality test to understand the impact of SEM brand keyword campaigns using Kenshoo Incrementality solution.


  • Brand SEM campaigns proved to be incremental.
  • Channel bid targets were adjusted to work better within customer LTV models.