Back in 2011, Winc entered the market with a bold vision: to personalize the wine selection process, making it easy for consumers to hone their palettes. Today, the company has broadened its scope by taking its wine in-house, owning cultivation from “grape to glass.”
Winc stands out amid myriad direct-to-consumer alcohol offerings in market today because it integrates technology at the foundation of its business. Every new subscriber completes a short quiz mapping their unique taste profiles, and after each delivery provides customer ratings and reviews. Based on these results, Winc recommends a selection of reds, whites, and everything in between — each uniquely catered to their customers’ tastes.This inventive customer-first product and experience is why FastCompany listed Winc among its Most Innovative Companies of 2019.
As a direct-to-consumer wine distributor, Winc found that attracting new members in mutually brand-safe ad environments was a consistent challenge. When they first launched, Google and Facebook comprised more than 60% of their marketing mix. However, algorithm changes and rising CACs led Winc’s Growth Team to determine that channel diversification would be necessary to maintain growth. They had more skin in the game, which made it crucial that they explore emerging channels.
As Winc’s Growth Team began to test beyond Google and Facebook, it soon found that many channels could not deliver against performance goals due to high CACs. Although the brand had some initial success with podcast ads, they soon had to shift strategies due to an influx of competitors in the space. Moreover, these channels often lacked targeting capabilities that would ensure brand safety. Display advertising, through DSPs in particular, exacerbated the problem — when human optimization is removed from the equation, it’s hard to see where an ad is actually running.
“You have to be proactive and optimistic about emerging advertising trends. As we found with podcasting, it’s easy to get priced out once the competition catches up to you. That’s why we’re constantly looking out for creative opportunities, and testing new solutions,” explained Rohan Panjiar, Director of Performance Marketing, Partnerships & Business Insights at Winc.
To address these challenges, the Winc team decided to capitalize on the in-app opportunity and test a mobile advertising network that satisfied brand safety requirements. Through its various explorations, the team had already developed a uniform media planning and creative optimization approach. Now they intended to apply these strategies to the in-app environment.
Winc’s Performance Marketing team worked closely with Tapjoy’s mobile ad specialists to ensure their test campaigns were set up for success. To align with test campaign best practices, the team aimed to achieve consistent ROAS before pushing for scale. At the offset, Tapjoy connected with publishing partners directly to form a custom whitelist of brand-safe apps. Nearly 50 publishers each agreed to host ads from the alcohol distributor and confirmed that over 75% of their users were over 21. Next, they set up a direct response ad in the Tapjoy offerwall.The users who self-selected Winc’s advertisements and signed up were also offered a reward in the host app.
Once the initial setup was complete, the team performed a series of multivariate tests to optimize campaign messaging and creative. They tested gallery and video-based instructions, finding that the gallery performed best. Lastly, they hit upon the right promotional language to push for urgency of purchase – Consumers seemed to respond best to a “$22 off your first month” promotion.
“At Winc, we always have a test-and-learn mindset. The team at Tapjoy shares that mindset — through testing, we were able to optimize our messaging and implement custom targeting. Now our DR offers deliver consistent results,” Rohan explained.
After initial tests confirmed the viability of the channel, Winc opted to scale their campaign. They increased their bid while achieving an average cost per subscription of $75. The average CVR of the gallery format was 2.82%, which made an increase of 26% over the period. Meanwhile, quick cancels hovered around 20% — far below the 30% industry average.
Thanks to its transparency and scale, the in-app environment solved Winc’s biggest challenges. Winc found that as an emerging channel, in-app was not yet crowded with competitors. Because of Tapjoy’s extensive reach and its in-house supply partnerships, Winc could confidently target a mature 21-plus whitelist at scale. These new subscribers also proved high-quality, enabling Winc to recoup its investment by the third month of membership. Overall, this campaign has had a correlative effect on the company’s growth.
“We’ve grown substantially year-over-year working with Tapjoy, and it’s become a key part of our marketing mix,” Rohan said. “We hope it will become even more so in the future!”
Winc continues to lean on its partnership with Tapjoy to hit its growth goals. Today, Facebook and Google comprise just 35-40% of the company’s media mix, with 70-80% of its spend targeting mobile devices. As a mobile network, Tapjoy will undoubtedly continue to play a crucial role in its marketing strategy in the years ahead.
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