The Problem

More than 40% of Internet users now come from Asia Pacific* and continues to grow at a pace much faster than other markets. Six countries from Southeast Asia alone have more than 62 million Internet users and growth is largely driven by young power users under the age of 35. Entertainment continues to grow and entertainment sites get more visitors and time spent compared to global averages. The game industry is worth USD $74 billion.

After analyzing the research data and our competitors, client’s management decided that as a leader in the gaming space, an entertainment and youth-centric portal would be launched to continue building upon our presence in the region (including Singapore) and capture market share.

However, despite the huge potential of this segment, the largest obstacle remains the strength of the competition. By directly competing for market share with established giants such as Zynga, Yahoo, Facebook, PlayFirst and other sites focused on 18-30 year olds, an innovative and groundbreaking marketing strategy was needed.

*Statistics from Digital Future in Focus Report 2013 (comScore)

The objectives for the new portal were:
1. Achieve 100,000 visits within 1 month of launch

2. To get 20,000 registered users within 1 month of launch

3. Budget of $10,000 means the cost of a registered user cannot go higher than a mere 50c

A Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA)* of 50c is far below that of more industry standard CPAs of $3 – $7*.

 

The task was made tougher when all the biggest advertising agencies around the world rejected the project because of unrealistic CPA expectations.
However, we believed this was possible by utilizing insightful research tools and Big Data/Analytics.

 

*Acquisition being defined as a unique user fully completing a signup form and creating an account on the portal
** http://www.gamesbrief.com/2011/12/social-games-summit-stats/

The Strategy

We first researched for segments in the market with proven demand but a gap in supply. The new portal will be positioned to fulfil this unsatisfied need.

Uncovering A Niche Market
Data mined using a combination of Google Keyword Tool and Google Insights was then cross-referenced with the top sites by country listed on Alexa. A notable pattern soon surfaced and “Games” emerged as a hot topic in all 6 markets in the region. Singapore alone had 940,000 (out of 3.2million) Facebook users whom expressed interest in games. This was ideal as one of MatchMove’s core strengths is knowledge and expertise in the Games segment.

Online games market in Southeast Asia alone is projected to reach 833.7 million by 2014.

Entrance Strategy

We then decided on “Content as a Strategy”.

However, the term is too generalized and will lead to a head-on collision with giants such as Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft), DOTA, League of Legends etc. Further analyzing for trends and patterns in the search behavior and cross-checking “interest specific games” it was uncovered

that online basketball games are in demand and have low competition in the region.

Fig 4. Google Keyword Tool used to determine hot topics

Fig 5. Google Keyword Tool used to pinpoint exact genre

Acquisition Plan

The acquisition campaign is the key to achieving the CPA figures. The campaign was conceptualized utilizing data from the research on keywords and interests. Facebook ads, Google Search Network, Google Display Network and 2 independent ad networks were selected as the main traffic sources.

Start Date: 22nd August 2013

End Date: –

Budget: USD $10,000

* Viral Growth Factor, or K-Factor, can be used to estimate growth potential and rate.

** Viral Cycle Time is the average time it takes to complete one loop, or the wavelength of viral loops. This is used in conjunction with the K-Factor to project growth figures.

The Execution

The launch of the portal was split into 2 phases. Phase 1 was a Closed-Beta Test (CBT) for data-collection and Phase 2 was the launch with optimized settings.

Closed-Beta Data Collection

Email-marketing and site banners were used to drive traffic to the new portal for the CBT. In order to further optimize the visit-to-registration conversion ratio, which is the key to achieving a CPA under 50c, Marketing opted to design a special landing page.

Using a combination of Heat-Maps, Google In-Page Analytics and A/B-Testing on different page configurations, colors and elements above and below-the-fold, Marketing was able to improve the ratio of visit-to-conversions by 13%.

An analysis of Google Visitor Flow Data and Advanced Audience Segments in technology, screen resolutions, geographic location and time-on-site also helped the team to zoom in on the most relevant audience segments and further optimize the display of the landing page.

Launch Campaign

Facebook Ads and Google Display Network were used to target the most relevant audience based on data collected during the market research phase and CBT. Settings were tweaked based around location, interests, placement, language, gender and age.

Finally, Google Search was employed to synergize with the awareness brought about by the massive launch of banners across basketball sites and to capitalize on the impressions generated. Phrase-match keywords were used to ensure only the most relevant search intents generated impressions. Continuous split-testing was done to ensure ad copy was optimized for Click-Through-Rates (CTRs). Combined with the relevancy of the phrase-match keywords resulting in incredible CTRs, Quality Scores of 8-10 were achieved for all keywords in the campaign.

All sources were continuously monitored and tweaked Live throughout the day.

The Results

Despite the project being rejected by the world’s top advertising agencies due to unrealistic expectations, we successfully launched the new portal across the region.

  • Data-driven marketing and optimization techniques resulted in a visit-to-conversion ratio above 30% from paid advertising (1-in-3 visitors went through the full registration process)
  • Acquired 30,000+ users using only USD$5454.61, utilising only 55% of the budget.
  • Final CPA of USD $0.16, which is 68% more cost-effective than the objective of USD $0.50. Comparing this to the norm of USD$3 – $7 for paid registrations shows how significant these results are.
  • All keywords in Google Search campaign achieved a CTR of between 25% and 45% (up to 4500% better than industry benchmarks for search advertising campaigns)
  • All keywords in Google Search campaign achieved Quality Score ratings of 8-10

Additionally, our content strategy has been proven to work, with engaged users spending an average of 200 minutes per day – significantly higher than the norm.
Getting more than 30,000 unique users to complete a signup form with full details at a CPA of only USD $0.16 is possibly a record performance for digital marketing in Singapore.

SUMMARY

  • Possible record-setting CPA of US$0.16 for paid advertising in Singapore
  • Visitor to registration conversion ratio of more than 30%
  • Data-driven approach optimization limited not just to advertising/acquisition phase but applied to entire strategy from start to end
  • Full disclosure on all acquisition numbers and budgets
  • Showcases the latest in advanced Big Data and Analytics technology
  • Exhibits a very rare level of professional know-how and expertise in digital marketing