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Viki, a streaming video service with global reach, removes the language and cultural barriers that stand between great entertainment and fans around the world. They do this by introducing ways to learn new languages while watching your favorite videos. Viewers can watch their favorite shows, discover new movies, and hear the latest celebrity news—all subtitled in more than 200 languages.
Jay Lee, Viki’s growth manager, joined the team in 2015 to oversee the acquisition and retention marketing strategies for Viki’s web, mobile, and connected TV platforms. The AdRoll team sat down with Jay to learn more about her company, her team’s marketing strategy, and the importance of preparing a holiday marketing plan early.
AdRoll: For those who don’t know Viki, tell us more about the company’s mission.
Jay: Viki’s mission is to break down the cultural and language barriers that currently exist in the global media landscape by building international fan engagement around popular content. People come to Viki for content but stay for a fan-driven community that supports this passionate culture on Viki. We want to make sure the fans can find their favorite shows, and then share their passion for great international entertainment, by staying engaged within the Viki community.
AdRoll: Describe the strategy around Viki’s current marketing initiatives.
Jay: It is a very exciting time for Viki. We are aggressively expanding our content library to facilitate even bigger audience groups. The marketing team’s strategy is to better identify the right audience, and nurture them with the right content, so they can be super excited and share that excitement with others. For example, one of the most popular content verticals on Viki is Korean dramas (“K-drama”). Within the U.S., we identified four to five different cultural groups as potential customers for K-drama. Since each group exists on different social media channels, messaging apps, and online news sites, we focus on developing custom marketing strategies for individual groups to fine-tune our targeting and messages for more effective promotions.
AdRoll: How has working with AdRoll’s growth platform affected your business?
Jay: AdRoll is our major lead-nurturing channel for the middle and bottom of Viki’s user acquisition funnel. The AdRoll algorithm has accumulated so much information about our users that, combined with AdRoll’s knowledge of external ad networks, it’s able to run highly targeted ad campaigns. The AdRoll algorithm knows who to target, when to target them, and where to target them with our marketing messages. Overall, it really helps decrease our customer acquisition cost (CAC).
AdRoll: How did you come to partner with AdRoll? What were you looking to improve?
Jay: When I first joined, I saw Viki attracting a lot of top-of-the-funnel traffic, without really nurturing users to become paid subscribers. To remedy this, we started using several retargeting platforms, including AdRoll and AdWords. Over time, we found that the users from AdRoll’s campaigns not only had the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA) but also showed the healthiest lifetime value per subscription.
AdRoll: What are your current marketing goals?
Jay: We have two major goals for making both short-term and long-term business impact. Increasing return on ad spend (ROAS) is, of course, the most important key performance indicator (KPI). But we also try to make sure that we keep supplying quality traffic to the top of the funnel for long-term business impact. That’s why we’re running a lot of fun marketing campaigns that are not directly related to subscription conversion. For example, we allocate a good amount of marketing budget to video ads to distribute fun video clips and quizzes. They may not always convert subscribers, but they’re good at attracting new users to the Viki site. From here, the next step is for other middle-of-the-funnel channels to nurture and convert subscribers at a lower CAC.
AdRoll: What are the biggest challenges you face in executing a brand marketing or performance marketing strategy?
Jay: Tracking and analytics. To be more specific, we strive to track the impact of multi-touch marketing channels and give credit to each channel in a fair way. The user acquisition flow has become so complex that it is necessary to understand which of our marketing channels interact with new users as a first, middle, or last touch.
We are slowly adopting the data-driven, multi-touch attribution model for better budget allocation, but we still need more data to be communicated transparently from each ad channel to our analytics platform.
AdRoll: How important is holiday marketing to your business?
Jay: Historically, we’ve seen content watch-time grow during the holiday season, so it’s one of the most important times of the year. Our general strategy is to aggressively acquire new users during the summer and shift our focus to nurturing existing users during the peak holiday season. This has worked well, since our subscription recurs monthly—so it’s always better to acquire users early and try to avoid the intense advertising competition that exists toward the end of the year.
AdRoll: What new marketing tools do you plan to test before the holiday season?
Jay: We‘ve seen very impressive growth on our mobile app installs over the past few years. To better communicate with our users, we’re in the process of revamping our push-notification strategy as well as our in-app messaging. We are fine-tuning our messages based on what we’ve learned about our users, the type of content people watch, and other demographic information to better communicate the value of Viki and its subscription service. We expect this channel to be one of our most important middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel strategies to generate in-app subscriptions—complementing our efforts with AdRoll.
AdRoll: Who are your favorite partners in your marketing stack?
Jay: Wow, it’s hard to pick a favorite kid! When I first designed the media mix for our user acquisition funnel, I assigned each channel to one of the three major marketing objectives: brand awareness, lead nurturing, and acquisition and churn management. For example, we use YouTube and social videos to promote any on-air titles as a pre-buzz tactic that introduces the Viki brand and content to new users. During the on-air period, we focus on AdRoll or other middle-funnel channels to directly target existing leads and convince them to become subscribers. After the show ends, email and mobile push messages play the major role of keeping users engaged and staying on the subscription.
To learn more about the acquisition funnel, take a look at AdRoll’s guide to full-funnel marketing. If you’d like to see how other companies are using AdRoll to create effective marketing strategies, check out these case studies.
Jay Lee leads the growth marketing team at Viki, where she oversees acquisition and retention marketing strategies including SEM, YouTube, social, and email/CRM. She was previously responsible for marketing strategies and business incubation for video-streaming startups. Jay is passionate about media and entertainment, new technologies, and fan-centric marketing. She also enjoys outdoor activities like surfing and snowboarding.
Originally published on May 21st, 2018, last updated on July 12th, 2022.