Sparkling Ice partnered with Tapjoy, a mobile ad network, to engage Hispanic consumers in a branded, gamified experience to boost household penetration and broaden its reach beyond mainstream demographics.
Objective and Context:
Since 1992, Talking Rain Beverage Company has been redefining sparkling water with its leading Sparkling Ice brand. It was the first beverage company to trade sugar for sucralose, kicking off the no-sugar beverage craze. Almost two decades later, Sparkling Ice is the number one brand in the sparkling water category, reaching $650 million in sales this past year.
In Q3 2020, Sparkling Ice hoped to expand its market share and edge out competitors including La Croix, Vitamin Water, and Bai. Past campaigns indicated that there was opportunity for growth within the Hispanic community. The team hoped to broaden its niche and boost household penetration among Hispanics through engaging brand experiences. Sparkling Ice also hoped to pair video with interactive creative to maximize engagement. Interactive video end cards and playables showed strong performance on the Tapjoy platform, due to its native integration in the top mobile games of today.
Hispanics are more invested in mobile gaming than other groups: They over-index by 26 percent in playing video games via streaming media. They are also 1.2 times more likely to use a gaming category website on their smartphone. These factors contributed to the brand's decision to target the Hispanic market via the mobile gaming space.
The key message of the 2020 Sparkling Ice campaign was "Flavor for All," with a focus on making sure the product was inclusive beyond the mainstream demographic. Recognizing Sparkling Ice's growing popularity among the U.S. Hispanic market, the brand decided to invest in its growth. The campaign would target Hispanic households and Spanish-preferred/Bilingual consumers with culturally relevant and Spanish-language creatives. Several publisher-level optimizations were made throughout the campaign, manually removing or adding apps to the whitelist based on performance.
In advance of the campaign, Tapjoy and the Sparkling Ice team joined a creative kick-off call to brainstorm ad concepts. Sparkling Ice's creative team helped establish the campaign's visual direction, and Tapjoy's design team, the Interplay Studio, expanded the concepts into full interactive mobile experiences. Sparkling Ice requested mock-ups that included video and playable elements. Tapjoy's Video to Interactive End Card product was the perfect fit, allowing for custom gamification.
From the onset, Sparkling Ice understood that its brand would be best served by a customized creative execution. Its primary KPIs were to boost brand awareness and break into new markets. To do that the ads needed to make a striking first impression. To complement the fun, joyful character of the brand, Sparkling Ice proposed two playable Video to Interactive End Card executions.
The first playable unit would be a simple memory game called "Fruit Match" in which users tap to reveal hidden fruit flavors and make pairs. The second would be a two-part tapper called "Whack a Fruit" in which users would tap fruit flavors as they appear to score points. The Interplay Studio customized both units to hit Sparkling Ice's KPIs related to video completion and engagement.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The Sparkling Ice team set an ambitious target of 2.67 million completed video views among a greater-than 90 percent Hispanic audience. The total campaign budget was $80,000 with the entirety allocated to Tapjoy's mobile Video to Interactive End Card units. An additional $8,000 of added value was delivered by Tapjoy's partnership.
Prior to launch, the Interplay Studio tested the ad unit and optimized it to maximize engagement. A key learning that arose from these tests is that playable engagement was strongest with a 20-second timer implemented. This UI element would ensure that users would retain interest through the duration of the experience and create a sense of urgency. The team also tested two video options at 15-second and 6-second lengths, ultimately learning that the shorter video performed best. Finally, Tapjoy's media planners maintained a custom blacklist of publishers, adding apps based on conversions and other factors, and increasing spend on high-performing channels.
The mobile gaming environment was integral to the entire campaign strategy. The ad units leveraged cutting-edge interactivity, making use of features that would not be accessible via desktop. The rewarded model also further gamified the entire ad experience by providing consumers with virtual currency to use in the host app upon video completion. Tapjoy's pricing model is also unique to the mobile environment, where minute interactions are easily attributed. In this case, Sparkling Ice would pay only for completed video views, with game engagements as added value.
Past campaigns with Tapjoy had also proved that there is considerable overlap between the mobile gaming audience and the Hispanic demographic. Tapjoy's market research reports also revealed that the mobile gamer segment is also comprised of parents. Because moms are typically associated with household purchases of CPG goods, Tapjoy's audience was ideal for Sparkling Ice.
Throughout the campaign, roughly three million people viewed the Sparkling Ice video ads, with 2.9 million users completing the videos. The video completion rate was extremely strong at 94 percent, well above Tapjoy's 90 percent benchmark. The average game engagement rate was 18.4 percent, exceeding Tapjoy's 15 percent benchmark. The game completion rate was 95 percent, nearly five times the 20 percent benchmark. The campaigned earned a click-through rate average of 0.16 percent, also on par with Tapjoy's 0.15 percent benchmark for similar games. The average time spent on the Fruit Match game was 28 seconds, while the shorter Whack a Fruit game averaged 10 seconds. Whack a Fruit slightly edged out Fruit Match in popularity, boasting 1.4 million video starts, 345,542 game starts, and 329,316 game completions. Fruit Match also had about 1.4 million views, with 94 percent of its 186,515 players completing the game.