Showmax: 97% increase in sales in half a year with the help of brand building

The brief was clear - our main objective was to help the client strengthen their brand awareness. Until then, he had only been using performance-based campaigns, where the main KPI was CPA.

We therefore needed to design a new strategy and include brand campaigns in the media mix, with the prospect that the given extension would also bring increased profit to the client in the longer term.


What did we need to do?

  • Detailed analysis of the target audience and market specifics
  • Design a workable marketing strategy and follow-up media mix
  • Ongoing optimization, Evaluate and report on the results of the newly designed activities

Results were not long in coming

Six months after changing the media communications strategy from performance-driven to a balanced combination of brand building and performance, Showmax’s digital sales increased 97% year-over-year and the cost per acquisition decreased 67%.

Web traffic increased by 60% while media investment decreased by 11%. Cost per unique user decreased by 44.5%.

Lucie Mifková

Digital Advertising Director

Flight, World, Showmax

Showmax streaming platform services are primarily used in Africa, but it has Czech roots - it was created in 2015 by a team of Prague developers. It operates on a subscription basis and its database includes locally produced content as well as international series, children’s shows and live sports.

It is therefore no surprise that its main competitors are international platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video.

A Different Region, Different Morals

First, we looked at the specifics of the African market itself.

Although the African market is evolving rapidly, there are still major economic, cultural and value differences between countries. Therefore, to properly design a strategy, it was necessary to understand the culture of each country and their specific barriers that could limit our progress - for example, that women in some areas may only have minority access to the internet.

The dominance of mobile devices is also specific to Africa. One of Showmax’s subscriptions is even specifically a mobile-only subscription. cTVs are the most popular for watching videos after mobiles. 

And we had to adapt our marketing strategy to this.

At the same time, it is necessary to count on unexpected events, which marketers located in Europe are definitely not used to yet. Examples include a power outage for several days in a large territory or a ban on an entire social platform. And of course, the specifics don’t end there.

In Africa, there is still a lot of mistrust in the digital world, quite logically we are working with a correlation between the level of income and trust in digital solutions.

Most payments are thus still made in cash or with phones - Africa is specific with its so-called Mobile Money (mobile wallet), an alternative to a bank account.

And then we had to thoroughly map the individual countries for which we would be designing the strategy and running campaigns.

  • Nigeria 221.4 M (50% 0-19 years old)

  • JAR 60.14 M (36.6% 0-19 years old)

  • Ghana 33.8 M (41.8% 0-19 years old)

 

South Africa, Gateway to Africa

JAR in numbers

  • 2nd strongest economy in Africa
  • 24th most populated country in the world
  • 11 languages spoken
  • up to 60% of e-commerce in whole Africa

With a population of 60.14 million (36.6% 0-19 years), South Africa is the most developed digital market, not unlike that of Europe. It is no wonder, therefore, that it is such a logical gateway into Africa for most international players.

Mobile penetration in South Africa is huge, yet 42% are so-called feature mobiles and only 22.6% of all mobile devices are smartphones.

South Africans & mobiles

DOOH is even more developed here than here, on the other hand South Africa holds the “potato” medal in blocking digital advertising - it is 4th in the world in the use of adblockers.

Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa

Nigeria in numbers

  • 1st strongest economy in Africa
  • 1st most populated country in Africa
  • 6th most populated country in the world
  • 2.5% annual population growth (India 0.8%)

With a population of 221.4 million, Nigeria is the largest economy and most populated country in Africa. Although English is the official language, the country and its leadership are characterised by a degree of fundamentalism that creates barriers to marketing.

Ghana - an interesting market

Ghana in numbers

  • 1st place in Sub-Saharan Africa (Global Peace Index)
  • 2% annual population growth (India 0.8%)
  • 10th highest GDP in Africa

Of the three countries we managed, Ghana, with the 10th highest GDP in Africa, is by far the smallest, but certainly not uninteresting.

We had the information… but what strategy to choose

We had the market and the countries mapped out, so we knew that reaching the relevant target audience to raise brand awareness would be not easy, to say the least. The market is unsurprisingly different from Europe.

We came up with a strategy.

Our target audience was people who could afford to subscribe to a streaming service and might be interested in it.

So what did we need to consider:

  • Population size
  • Internet penetration
  • Economic indicators
  • Audience size in each system
  • Brand awareness
  • Brand consideration

What about targeting?

In the countries we manage, targeting by income doesn’t work, and neither does targeting by location.

We needed to figure out how to broadly target only the creditworthy group of people who can afford the subscription in a sizable population with significant specifics.

We therefore decided to base the campaign primarily on targeting by device.

Lucie Mifková

Digital Advertising Director

We have worked on the hypothesis that users using more expensive devices will be sufficiently creditworthy to afford the subscription. We therefore decided to exploit cTVs and desktops to the maximum. 

Mobile phones were a challenge, as virtually everyone in these countries owns one, even if they live on the poverty line. So I limited those to only the most expensive versions.

However, we also took affinity into account, so we also chose platforms like Linkedin and Twitter, where the assumption is that we would reach a more educated population. 

From an affinity targeting perspective, we focused on so-called custom audiences, which are formed by what sites and apps people use or what keywords they type into a search engine.

4 ads per funeral

The promo content, i.e. soap operas and TV shows, has performed best in campaigns over the long term. The content is always tailored to the country and the theme that resonates and ideally originates there. 

For example, Ghana is the country with the most unique burial practices in the world. They take 3 to 4 months to prepare. It is therefore no wonder that the reality show My Perfect Funeral, where five families prepare a ceremonial funeral, was one of the shows we promoted. 

In Europe, so far, quite unimaginable. 

How we set up our campaigns

  • We divide our campaigns into teaser and launch phases. 

  • Budget ratio approximately 30-40:70-60.

  • We always launch the teaser approximately 2 to 3 weeks before the show launches on Showmax. 

  • Launch starts on the day the Show launches on the platform. The first week is crucial and determines the success rate. 

  • For brand campaigns, we focus on frequency and reach. We look at the affinity of each platform. 

…and how we approached the creative

Due to the high rate of mobile usage, all formats had to be optimized for them. Of course, it was then necessary to consistently localize using the local language, ideally using its simplified form. 

The same applies to videos, which need to be localised and accompanied by English subtitles.

When developing the creative, we also had to think about other specifics of the markets we operate in - the banner ad had to be higher contrast with higher brightness due to the fact that African users use lower brightness on their phones to save battery.

Platforms Used: Results, Obstacles & Highlights

Programmatic Purchasing in DV360

We ran

  • banners in DV360, which we optimized for highest viewability

  • video, which after testing we judged to be the best optimized for viewability along with completed viewability.

Since we were also concerned about brand safety, during the first run I worked with the client to create a blacklist of domains we didn’t want to show the ad on.

We didn’t forget about affinity either, where we tried to negotiate a deal directly for domains with higher post-view conversion rates. Thanks to this, we were able to reduce CPMs by up to 50%.

Interestingly, in Nigeria, I received reach metrics with a three-day delay. In Ghana, they were not available at all.

Youtube

I also run YouTube campaigns in DV360. This allowed us to better manage frequency across campaigns and keep track of overlaps. 

We chose a non-skip format, which is great for TV creative - we used it for short teasers for specific shows. 

Since the client could handle audio very well, we ran audio along with the video. Not only did this combination work better for lift, but the CPM for audio was up to 50% cheaper.

We were able to show the commercials on very high quality channels, achieving a complete absence of channels with content for children and channels for teenagers.

Video blogs, podcasts, talk shows, and newscasts have long term shown us the highest conversion rates.

We remembered to check conversions after viewing.

Facebook and Instagram

Advertising on Facebook and Instagram was also an obvious choice. 

What surprised us, however, was the “size” of the desktop audiences. In the huge population of Nigeria, we were working with between 372k and 473k users, and in SA we were at very similar numbers. Coupled with very high CPMs.So here we exhausted the potential very quickly.

So we continued to focus primarily on mobile phones, which we limited by price, education and relevant interests.

It was interesting to note that although Instagram had a low CTR, once a user clicked through, it also generated a subscription from 50%.

TikTok

Advertising on TikTok is currently only possible in SA. While the network is available in Nigeria and Ghana, it is not possible to advertise on it.

LinkedIn

We ran into the problem that not all promoted content was rated positively. However, this network clearly had the highest CTR (0.7% to 1.2%), as did ours, but was one of the most expensive (CPMs up to 5X higher than Twitter).

Twitter

We also did very well in terms of CTR (>0.5%).

What does the client say about this?

Our cooperation with Proficio is very effective and brings us not only excellent business results, but also increases the knowledge of our internal team. 

Changing our strategy was a key step for us and the wider management team and required close collaboration between all team members. 

Thanks to our collaboration, we were able to successfully execute our bold plan and achieve our goals.

Jakub Matoušek

Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Showmax