Texas Lottery, the official lottery of the state of Texas, sold its first ticket in 1992. Since that time, it has generated $31 billion in revenue for the state and distributed $66 billion in prices to lottery players. As a state agency, the Texas Lottery Commission has a unique revenue model: It combines for-profit performance with non-profit accountability to the state of Texas. As a government entity, the commission also upholds regulatory responsibilities. Today, it remains committed to generating revenue for the State of Texas through the responsible management and sale of entertaining lottery products.
Texas Lottery and their creative agency, THIRD EAR, have long-relied on mobile to boost brand awareness. In the holiday season of 2019, the team hoped to make an impact with new creative. They reached out to Tapjoy to explore new interactive ad formats with one caveat: The creative and the campaign deployment would need to meet strict brand safety standards.
As a state agency, the Texas Lottery is subject to high brand safety standards. The brand’s ad creative could not emulate gambling mechanics such as scratch tickets. Instead, Texas Lottery and its partners would need to create a gamified experience that evoked excitement without gambling connotations.
The goal of this year’s campaign would be to boost awareness of holiday scratch tickets through an interactive mobile experience. The theme of the campaign would be “Win at Gifting” — a message which underscores why lottery tickets are a holiday gifting favorite. With these objectives in mind, Tapjoy’s Interplay Studio began to brainstorm new concepts. After presenting several creative mockups, the teams agreed to an initial direction.
The campaign would reach English and Spanish speakers in Texas DMAs. The Texas Lottery team also requested that ads would not appear in apps associated with explicit content, violence, or co-viewing. This unique deployment presented another challenge: Because it is intended to reach a small audience, the Tapjoy team would need to make ongoing optimizations to achieve scale.
To meet brand safety requirements, the ad creative itself would be carefully designed to ensure that scratch tickets and gambling were not referenced overtly. The Interplay Studio came up with an inventive concept: a Video to Interactive End Card ad that closes with a “mystery gift” game.
While playing a mobile game, users would watch a rewarded video ad showcasing the Texas Lottery. After the user completed the video, they would receive a small amount of in-game currency. Next, they would see an Interactive End Card — in this case, the mystery gift game — inviting them to tap to open the three mystery presents. Two of the three open to show mundane images of books and shoes. The third opens to reveal an exciting image of Texas Lottery tickets. Upon opening this package, the end card displays a celebratory message: “Give the Best Gifts.” The call to action reads “Gift Today,” directing users to a URL with information on buying tickets.
After designing the gamified creative, Tapjoy tested it with a control group and made optimizations. These included swapping the gift options and experimenting with alternative copy. Once the English creative was finalized, THIRD EAR adapted it into Spanish.
Meanwhile, Tapjoy’s media planners leveraged in-house publisher partnerships to create a custom allow list of brand-safe apps for the Texas Lottery campaign. As directed, the ads would only appear in apps that complemented the brand and aligned with its product offering. To ensure consistent scale throughout the campaign, the Tapjoy team would monitor which of the apps on this list showed the strongest performance and weight them accordingly.
Thanks to Texas Lottery, Tapjoy, and THIRD EAR’s efforts, the campaign saw strong engagement at launch. To maximize performance, Tapjoy reviewed and optimized the allow list for the duration of the campaign. Because of the holiday season, the ad space was more crowded and competitive than usual. However, thanks to publisher list optimizations, Tapjoy’s media planners hit
Soon the results were in: Not only did the campaign nab an impressive video completion rate of 89%, but users spend an average of 17 seconds in the unit — an eternity for mobile gamers! It also saw a remarkably strong CTR of 3.29% and a unique engagement rate of 14.31% both in excess of Tapjoy’s benchmarks. Top-performing DMAs included Dallas and Fort Worth, with both the English and Spanish placements seeing consistent scale and engagement.
Texas Lottery stakeholders were pleased with the campaign’s performance. The Tapjoy campaign effectively balanced the need for brand safety with innovation and excitement. Above all, the campaign achieved scale in local DMAs, effectively achieving its goal of boosting brand awareness.
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