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HBO True Blood mobile ad campaign increases viewership 38pc

NEW YORK - HBO ran a rich media mobile ad campaign to promote the season three premiere of "True Blood" using a new ad unit that sent chills down consumers? spines.

To power the campaign, the cable network tapped agency PHD, a subsidiary of Omnicom Media Group, and Medialets? cross-platform rich media advertising and analytics platform for mobile applications. The goals of the marketing campaign were to excite existing fans, intrigue the uninitiated and garner the attention of the industry to boost awareness and drive tune-in.

?HBO challenged us to come up with something really unique,? said Jessica Drapiza, digital group director at PHD. ?PHD and Medialets identified key app publishers that could support the execution while reaching entertainment industry enthusiasts and professionals.

?One of the major challenges was it was a bit complex since we were first to market with this rich-media ad unit, and in order for this ad to actually run, it required the publisher to update the SDK,? she said.

?The campaign as a whole was successful?more than 5.1 million viewers tuned in to True Blood?s season three season premiere.?

Sinking their teeth into mobile
That number was a 38 percent increase over the previous season premiere and a 19 percent boost over the previous season?s average viewership.

Ms. Drapiza claims the program set a high bar in previous seasons and the goal was to drive viewership beyond the last season?s premiere.

By providing fans with media-driven experiences that unlock and incite the rabid fan base?s ?fangelism? the campaign was able to spark conversation, accelerate interest and garner attention for the series, according to PHD.

PHD and Medialets chose iPhone applications from Variety, Flixster and various inventory across Jumptap?s mobile ad network.

?We worked very closely with the PHD team and a host of other partners to create what we think is a very cool rich media ad,? said Eric Litman, chairman/CEO of Medialets, New York. ?One early data point we found is that interruptive ads with strong creative may drive strong results.

?We came up with a creative execution that wasn?t just the core for the ad unit but ended up going out across the entire campaign with mobile being at the center of the campaign,? he said. ?Think if you are browsing through the Flixter app looking for a movie or browsing the Variety app, and the first touch you get a bloody fingerprint.

?Tap it again and you get another fingerprint, then the blood pours down and takes over the screen and you get to the activation, a tap-to-watch-trailer call-to-action with a banner ad at the bottom.?

Mr. Litman said that not surprisingly, people who had the ad automatically expanded were very engaged?98 percent of them to be exact.

Of consumers presented with just the banner ad, 11 percent then tapped the banner and expanded it to do something within the application.

Discussion of the creepy ad unit spread virally among consumers and the press, according to Mr. Litman.

On YouTube, the True Blood iPhone creative demographic video was viewed 10,000-plus times in seven days.

Medialets claims that more than 1 million impressions were delivered across multiple applications.

?People who dealt with the ad the first time around with autoexpansion spend considerably more time with it,? Mr. Litman said.

The best performing application click-through rate, technically in-application video views, was 8.73 percent, with auto-expanded banners close to 8 percent and user-expanded banners just above 2 percent.

?Nothing like this has ever been done before within an app, and there was some complexity associated with it,? Mr. Litman said. ?The time that people spent within the ad when they weren?t anticipating it was significantly more than people who tapped the banner.

?The creative was done expressly and specifically for mobile, for the device, for the medium and for the natural interaction of users with the iPhone,? he said.

?It was successful because it was a mobile-driven campaign, mobile-driven creative.?

Final Take