Automated Tools Help Hidden City Games Join Display Ad Club

  |  December 31, 2009   |  Comments

Game publisher uses AdReady platform to drive awareness and traffic to virtual world Bella Sara.

When it comes to online display advertising, there's a divide between companies too small to afford good campaigns and those wealthy enough to pay digital shops to launch and manage them. Seattle-based Hidden City Games is a good example of a company in that gulf, yet it recently managed to use display advertising effectively to lower its customer acquisition costs.

Hidden City was founded by Peter Adkison -- the creator of the trading card game "Magic: The Gathering" and the man who brought Pokémon to North America. It operates a virtual world called Bella Sara for horse-loving 5- to 13-year-old girls.

Last year it began using ad platform AdReady -- which helps customers create and optimize display campaigns. The goal was to drive awareness of the game and traffic to BellaSara.com, according to Dell Monson, Hidden City Games' senior marketing director.

Hidden City Games' in-house creative team built an initial creative Flash ad that was brought into the AdReady system. "We turned it into templates that could be altered," said Jamie Lomas, AdReady's VP of sales and strategic partnerships. "Once in a template, it then goes into the tool and can be customized very quickly. Over the top of that integrated environment we have algorithms...that make automated recommendations such as, 'You should pause this ad because it's underperforming.' It automates a process that, typically, an ad agency would have planners doing."

Monson said it didn't take long for customer acquisition costs to decline as Hidden City Games determined which ads and ad placements were working and which should be altered or jettisoned. At the outset, Hidden City Games was paying a cost per acquisition of more than $3. Within a month, she said that figure dropped to about 84 cents.

Monson said Hidden City Games tried other display ad systems but found them too complex. "We tried running display ads through Google and they were not successful," she said. "They took a lot of manual work and resources in watching them and changing campaigns out and we haven't been able to successfully do that."

Hidden City Games is now spending about $25,000 monthly on display ads, and about 40 percent of its ad budget is spent online depending on the time of year. "Early in the year, we drop it by about $10,000," said Monson. "It will come up again around Easter."

Although it also is involved in video marketing and search ads, Hidden City Games is placing its bets primarily on display. "For our brand, display marketing is the most successful way to go," Monson said. "We've done mommy bloggers and viral, but the cost to acquire new consumers is just so much more effective with AdReady and what we've been doing with our display ads."

The company recently partnered with Amazon to launch an e-commerce site and is running display ads to support it. Monson said the ads seem to be bringing "significant growth" to the site. "We have games and toys and books and clothing, so the Bella Sara brand has grown exponentially in the last year and we are focusing our display ads on brand awareness, not just product awareness."

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...