Case Study: Digital Entertainment Brand Growth Through Paid Media


A core mission of mine is to discuss not just advertising theory, but also advertising success through smart media planning and media buying. 

For digital/service/platform/entertainment brands the world of media is very different than store-distributed products. With their own set of needs, and typically easier measurement, instant accountability can often lead to a short-term or lower funnel mindset. But as with most brands, success comes quickest with a combination of media channels and strategies.

With the rise of OTT and Streaming behavior by consumers, it was only natural that a client of mine, a digital video rental and ad-supported streaming service, would want to grow its user base. In addition to efficient digital growth tactics like Search and Facebook run by the brand, the challenge we were given was to grow streams and monthly active users on TVs and on the app…and fast. 

The thesis was straightforward - a significant lift in awareness would lead to an equally significant lift in streaming and purchase activity. Upper funnel/awareness/brand building media would lift the tide for the platform and create more happy consumers that could be reached by data-driven media later.

Our approach was simple - we knew that Digital channels were efficient, but the fastest growth for most brands and even digital platforms was with TV. We also knew we could stack the deck in our client’s favor by adding other streaming inventory (from the vendors who would sell to us!) and digital audio through Pandora. The consumers who were already streaming video and audio were lower hanging fruit because we did not need to change their behavior. Through a combination of brute force (TV) and precision targeting (OTT + Digital Audio), we found a mass audience inclined to stream. 

The campaign went live for three months across two test markets. The hardest part? Having the patience for frequency to settle in and begin to deliver results. It didn’t take long. Our blitzkrieg strategy yielded exceptional results in sign-ups, streams and even downloads of the app. But the key was not just seeing how streams or MAUs increased, it was in understanding the lift in awareness first. To do this accurately we partnered with Millward-Brown on a custom awareness research study in our test and control markets. While this required an additional investment, it proved definitively and without bias that our thesis was correct: An increase in awareness to a broad audience (more inclined to streaming) would lift core “sales” metrics.

What were the results? Extremely promising for a brand and digital platform looking for significant growth in the next 12-24 months:

(While we cannot share absolute results, these percentages are telling.)

  • 89% lift in new accounts

  • 41% lift in streams

  • 22% lift in web visits

  • 42% lift in mobile app installs

What can your brand take away as you consider the media plan and media buy that will get extraordinary results for your own growth?

  • If you don’t have massive budgets/need proof that advertising works, local market tests allow you to gain learnings at a fraction of the budget

  • Even in a TV-centric test we included smart “upper funnel” media from the Digital-realm. This not only expanded our reach and efficacy, but lent to the natural behaviors of Streaming Families.

  • Growth is about brute force (i.e. reach) + precision (i.e. Digital targeting) - one provides volume and one closes the deal with the strongest sets of consumers