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Segmented Social Marketing Grows MGM Revenues by 300 Percent

  |  April 11, 2014   |  Comments

Segmented social advertising, boosted by sub-campaigns created for Facebook and Twitter Custom Audiences, has grown MGM Resorts International revenues 300 percent over the last three years.

You can get anything you want in Vegas, and that selection includes everything from hotel properties such as value-oriented Circus Circus to the luxury of the Bellagio. Both of those - along with more than 20 others - are owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, which offers 41,000 Vegas rooms and keeps them at 90 percent occupancy throughout the year.

MGM uses social media data to get the right offer to the right customer, whether they're a big spender or a penny-saver. And social advertising has grown revenues 300 percent over the last three years.

Most MGM customers aren't aware of who owns the hotels, restaurants, and casinos they visit, but each of them likely knows M life, MGM's overarching loyalty brand. MGM keeps track of each customer within one central database that contains some 30 million opt-in email addresses.

"The idea of the M life program is to move the consumer up in the family of brands," says Nick Mattera, social media manager for MGM Resorts. Members earn points for everything they spend anywhere on any MGM property, including casinos, restaurants, and entertainment, as well as the room charge. "The idea is to reward you for extending your trip outside the property you stay at."

At this point, MGM's social data is separate from its email database. It uses Gigya for social sign-in services, so that when someone signs into MGM or M life via Facebook, that data is pulled back into Adobe Marketing Cloud via Facebook's APIs. "Our long-term strategy," Mattera says, is to create a single profile on the customer, knowing both the M life and social behaviors."

Mattera segments his social media campaigns like crazy. He uses Facebook and Twitter Custom Audiences to run as many as 18 to 20 sub-campaigns off every campaign, with audiences of 25,000 or less per campaign. For example, a campaign for Bellagio might target people who've shown high affinity for the property, as well as consumers in Brazil.

"We want to be culturally relevant with ads and send something that makes sense to [the consumer]. For example, we know Brazilians tend to stay longer and like to shop. So we might put out an ad about shopping at Crystals," Mattera says.

Even more important than custom audiences is Facebook Exchange retargeting, according to Mattera. If someone abandons a booking, MGM will dynamically serve them an ad the next time he or she goes to Facebook.

"It's been really powerful," he says, returning more than 10 times the ad spend. "We know the consumer has a high level of intent to travel to Las Vegas, so the ad is highly relevant. We want to make our brand top of mind when you think of traveling to Las Vegas."

Proven success in one channel makes it harder for Mattera to experiment in new social channels without being expected to produce similar return on investment (ROI). While it varies by property, MGM has specific and firm goals for the return on every dollar that's spent - in general, four times the spend returned in revenue.

MGM also uses Adobe Social for social listening. For example, it responds with a promotional offer to customers who tweet something like, "Where's a good place to stay in Vegas?" And social listening allows MGM to excel at "service recovery," that is, making things right when someone tweets or posts a complaint while they're in town.

Recognizing the importance of social media and a unified customer experience, MGM recently hired John Bolan as chief experience officer, reporting to the president. Digital marketing, guest services, loyalty marketing and the senior vice president of brand and marketing all report to him.

"Some of our channels are disjointed and siloed," he said recently. "Our goal is to shift to one continuous digital and analog experience that's integrated."

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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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