After three years of running Super Bowl ads, website services firm Wix pulled the plug on creating a pricey commercial during this year's big game even though results suggest the spots successfully increased the brand's exposure. Instead, it will focus on digital marketing, new audience segments and key partnerships with fashion model Karlie Kloss and Internet comedians Rhett & Link.
Wix has seen significant growth over the past few years. The company ended Q1 2015 — the first time it ran a television during the prime slot — with 63 million users. By the end of Q1 2016 when the second Super Bowl ad spot ran, the site reported 82 million users. By the end of Q1 2017, that number was up to 113 million. The most recent figures for Q3 2017 reveal some 114 million users, 5.2 million of which joined during that quarter. The numbers suggest the brand's Super Bowl ads helped introduce Wix to a wider audience. In this light, the decision to switch gears might seem surprising to some marketers.
"People have asked me more than once, 'why did you change something that went so well?'" Wix CMO Omer Shai told Marketing Dive. "This is part of our philosophy, which is to try to do better every year. I won't say it is not necessary [to do the Super Bowl], because we are still not one of the top 100 brands in the world. But we just decided that this year the ingredients are different, and we will allocate the budget differently to help us grow."
New directions, new audiences
Despite the success from the ads and an increase in marketing budget this year, the company feels that its budget is better spent on digital campaigns that are more efficient than a TV ad that can cost $5 million.
"It is not a lack of budget," Shai pointed out. "I just have better ways to invest the company's money. We think digital offers better exposure to the brand and at the same time keeps the goals of the company."
Wix targets small businesses looking for affordable options to design professional websites. NFL players Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Owens, Larry Allen and Franco Harris starred in the brand's first Super Bowl spot, showing how these guys could launch post-football careers and use Wix tools to build their sites.
In last year's spot, a chef survives the destruction of his bistro by redesigning his website and opening a food truck after his place is trashed by assassins. The ad pushes the company's free customizable website templates and generated 22.6 million online views even before the spot aired. The commercials not only helped attract small business customers, but a growing number of developers and designers have been signing up for Wix since the ad ran, Shai reported.
While the company will stay true to branding and acquisition efforts among small business customers, one major difference this year is that the company will also be actively targeting these newly interested developers and designers. In December 2017, the company launched Wix Code, a service targeted at these professionals. Some of the new budget will be allocated to support this expansion. "We have increased the marketing budget on our current audiences and on the additional segments that we approach," Shai explained.
More content, more targeting
With the Super Bowl off the table for 2018, Wix will focus its efforts on digital campaigns and further segmentation to these new audiences, as well as doing more in global markets. The site plans to do 10x the number of campaigns it did in the past, and to take on more marketing, the company is hiring. Over the next month, Wix will launch around 10-12 different pieces of content globally via various digital channels.
"We are doing all the things that we did before just better scale, better targeting and better storytelling," Shai said.
This year's efforts include partnerships with fashion model Karlie Kloss, internet comedians Rhett and Link and YouTube influencer iJustine, as well as with the New York Yankees and Brazilian soccer team Flamengo.
"We are also doing more local campaigns in our biggest markets that are not in the U.S., like Brazil [and] other South American countries to reach those audiences," Shai said.
Dropping the Super Bowl isn't the only thing helping underwrite the new creative. Even with an increase in marketing budget, Wix's marketing expenses as a percent of collections has declined since 2015. Dropping from 56% in 2014, marketing expenses represented 41% of collections in Q3 2017. The decline is expected to continue as marketing ROI is paying off. The company expects that user cohorts will generate more $2.5 billion in collections over the next six years without any further investment in marketing.
But that doesn't mean Wix will cut back on marketing. Recent years suggests the opposite. And the brand hasn't written off the Super Bowl entirely. Shai admits the brand may be back next year.
"There is a chance that we will do next year if it makes sense," he concluded.