The Texas Lottery Commission is unique among other Texas state agencies. Its ongoing operations combine for-profit performance expectations with fiscal accountability and regulatory oversight responsibilities as a government entity. Through its administration of Texas Lottery games, the Texas Lottery has a significant fiscal impact on the state. The Texas Lottery is committed to generating revenue for the State of Texas through the responsible management and sale of entertaining lottery products. Beginning with the first ticket sold in 1992, Texas Lottery has generated $32 billion in revenue for the state and distributed $69 billion in prizes to lottery players.
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 interactive ad formats with one caveat: The creative and the campaign deployment would need to meet strict brand safety standards.
The campaign aimed to drive awareness and promote scratch ticket sales for the holiday season. With the theme “Win at Gifting,” the brand hoped to remind consumers why lottery tickets are a holiday favorite. But the creative would need to meet Texas Lottery’s Advertising Sensitivities brand standards.
A key stipulation was that the ad creative could not mimic scratch tickets or other products — it needed to evoke the lottery’s excitement without literal references. With this in mind, Tapjoy’s Interplay Studio began to brainstorm new concepts.
The ad deployment also posed unique challenges. It would reach an 18+ adult audience of English and Spanish speakers in Texas DMAs, through a limited supply of brand-safe publisher apps. Tapjoy’s strategists prepared a custom allow-list of apps that adhere to Texas Lottery’s Advertising Sensitivities. They would need to make ongoing optimizations to achieve scale.
Tapjoy’s Interplay Studio would carefully design the ad creative to avoid simulating actual lottery products or other games of chance. The team came up with an inventive concept: a Video to Interactive End Card ad that closes with a “mystery gift” game.
Here’s how it worked: While playing a mobile game, users may watch a Rewarded Video showcasing Texas Lottery. After completing the video, they receive a small amount of in-game rewards. Next, they see an Interactive End Card with the mystery gift game, inviting them to tap to open the three mystery presents. Two of the three open to show mundane gifts — books and shoes. The third reveals Texas Lottery tickets. A celebratory message appears: “Give the Best Gifts.” The call to action reads “Gift Today,” directing users to the Texas Lottery website for information on the games.
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 translated it to 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 strategists hit daily spend goals.
Soon, the results were in. Not only did the video see an impressive 89% completion rate, but the average time spent in the unit totaled 17s — an eternity for mobile gamers! It also saw a 3.29% CTR and 14.31% unique engagement, both above 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 was 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, meeting its goal of boosting brand awareness.
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