Facebook Ads Case Study Pt. 2: Agency Drives $150k Kickstarter Launch For Apotheosis’ The Red Opera

…Hello Be Pro reader and, surprise, this is a doubleheader agency case study on Facebook ads so be sure to read to the end…

There was a time when Apotheosis Studios put $3,489.16 into the Facebook ads vending machine and got 3,063 leads out of it. [Read part 1 of our agency case study here to see how.]

That was pretty exciting. Especially considering all that work to build a list was leading up to September 2020 when they were launching a Dungeons & Dragons-style expansion game. However, this was no ordinary expansion. This game was to accompany a heavy metal band’s latest album, with each song having a unique part of the game’s campaign.

Yes, a D&D campaign that comes with its own theme music, awesome!

To fund this ambitious project, the plan was to use the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Be Pro was brought in to help push the Apotheosis promotional video and Kickstarter project as hard as possible with ads. They were going to handle the emails from the list they had built in previous months (i.e. part 1 of the case study). It was up to us to get as many qualified eyes on Facebook as possible while also driving people to Kickstarter.

First off, the project had a $10,000 goal to start, which they hit in 40 minutes.

Think about that. Almost immediately, they had built enough hype to do five figures worth of backing. This really speaks to how important their list building activities were.

Plus, the offer itself was extremely well put together; the various donor levels were designed based on how deep of a fan the target customer was and what they would care about.

Selling $10,000 in 40 minutes was not a surprise though. Apotheosis had done their research and intentionally started with community-based goals at key donation milestones to drive sharing. After reading this blog post, go check out their Kickstart project. It is a case study in itself on how to masterfully execute a Kickstarter launch that gets the whole community behind the project. Each of the goals got bigger and cooler. They also gamified the launch by not revealing all the goals at once and added some other neat perks to keep donors engaged.

The project ultimately raised $161,312 from 2,483 backers, which was quite a delightful result at the end of the day.

The Team To Make It Happen

In this next part of the case study we’re going to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the effort it took to pull this off. We’ll expose what type of team structure someone would need to run a similar campaign.

Offer (Research & Development)

A world-class Offer is the main component for any successful campaign and this offer had the makings of one. They organized a team of game designers and consultants to make sure the gamebook and all accompanying resources were professional and of high quality. 

Marketing

There was a team of strategists and tacticians working in combination to execute various strategies. For example, the countdown posts required close collaboration with their design resources to produce time-sensitive visuals leading up to the launch.

Sales

The “sales mechanism” in this case was Kickstarter because that is where the transaction took place. The Kickstarter page then became the Sales Pages for their Offer. As the campaign progressed they made regular updates and engaged with the community by announcing and updating the community as milestones were hit. The people running this aspect of the campaign were critical!

Fulfillment

Producing a hardcover book with limited editions and other versions is a monumental task! The fulfillment of these items, including the bonuses, were all well in the works by the time the Kickstarter launched. It was made clear what people were getting by backing the project at each of the different levels. They even produced a neat loot chart that made it easy for people to choose the right level for them so they could get the bonus items they wanted. 

There was a whole army of people working closely with the research and development team to pull this off. As a result, they were able to produce high-quality mockups of the final product. These visual assets were instrumental in driving up the perceived value of the loot so that people would be excited to back the project.

Operations

Apotheosis Studios did everything like a well-oiled machine. The reason this was such a successful project is that, under the hood, the team understood operationally HOW they needed to do all the key functions of their business.

The marketing team put together and executed strategies with impressive skill. Their process to update the Kickstarter sales page was expertly done. Lastly, they did an amazing job keeping backers in the loop during the backing period as well as the waiting period until the book shipped from the production houses. An additional feature they started was a private Discord community to stoke the conversation in a concentrated space, which is still expertly moderated to this day.

People

The people at Apotheosis Studios were all amazing. Every person from the team that we interacted with was competent, aligned on the long-term vision, and a great team player.  This also speaks greatly to Jamison Stone’s ability to lead a company and build a team. He is also a shining example of how modern executives can have a public presence on social media and still be their own individual selves.

Money

At the end of the day, money pays for all these other parts of the business. Like the rest of their operation, money seemed to play its part as a resource (but no further). They had clear budgets and knew the type of investment they were expecting to make. While we didn’t get any insight into this part, the business as a whole seems to be doing fine. They’re still producing new games and selling their existing product line. We assume this afforded them the cash flow to execute this whole project until the Kickstarter money came in.

When you break it down, a project of this scale absolutely requires a team to do it right. That is why we wanted to include this extra context with the second part of the case study. On the surface, these results seem easy to reproduce. The advertising strategies ARE easy to replicate. The Hollywood quality visuals, writing, and Offer complexity are the challenging parts. And they all came together beautifully.

Now, that being said, let’s explore what happens when you put the same audiences in three different auctions for the exact same social post…

Facebook Ads Case Study: The “Triple Boost”

For this part of the project, they had their main promotional video. We were tasked with pushing this as hard as possible, in as many ways as possible, to blow out the Kickstarter. An extra constraint was we had zero conversion tracking because that isn’t something Kickstarter offers these days. We could drive clicks to the page and then it was a black box until they made a donation. Even then we couldn’t attribute a particular ad to that donation.

Not the best place to be as a professional advertiser.

The Big Idea: A “Triple Boost” Facebook Ad Campaign

We knew that conversion tracking was not going to be available for this project. The plan was Kickstarter all along. So we came up with an idea:

“What if we entered the same video into three different auctions?”

In other words, what if we “boosted” the public promotion video in three Facebook ads campaigns:

  1. Post Engagement
  2. Video Views
  3. Traffic

In theory, this “Triple Boost” idea would help us reach as many people as possible by tapping into more key behaviors. While also concentrating all social proof (comments, shares, etc.) on that single public post.

If someone watches a lot of videos, we can get them in the Video View campaign. If someone is likely to comment or share, we can get them in the Post Engagement campaign. And the clicky types are going to Kickstarter to donate because of the Traffic campaign.

And, of course, the same user will probably show up in multiple auctions so they will see the video more than once overall. Especially since we are remarketing to Page Engagers in the Traffic campaign 😉

Facebook Ads Case Study Results

Considering this few thousand was all they spent on Facebook ads, we believe it was a successful campaign that drove a more funded Kickstarter project than if they hadn’t run ads. (Click to view full size).

From an advertising standpoint, any campaign has three parts, and you can remember “OAC”(pronounced like the tree):

  • Objective
  • Audience
  • Creative

In this case, we have 3 different Objectives all using the same Audiences and Creative.

The audience selection was chosen to cast a wide net. We wanted to reach the highest number of people possible. This meant we needed to use as many of the four classes of possible advertising audiences as possible. With regards to audience selection, you have:

  1. Class 0 – Owned Audiences: These are the audiences where YOU own the data.
  2. Class A – Platform Audiences: These are the audiences where the PLATFORM (e.g. Facebook) owns the data.
  3. Class B – Related Audiences: These are the audiences where you target similar users.
  4. Class C – Data-Drive Audiences: These are the audiences where you slice into the platform data.

The audiences we chose to target in these three campaigns were:

House Email List (Class 0)

Website Site Traffic (Class 0)

Lead Ad Leads (Class A)

Page Likers (Class A)

Page Engagers (Class A)

Lookalikes (Class B)

Competition (Class B)

Tabletop Kickstarters (Class C)

Facebook Ads Lookalike Selection

For the lookalikes, we gave the Facebook ads machine a seed to start with those interested in Role-Playing Gaming. Lookalikes can find all sorts of people, so it’s a good idea to give the AI some kind of initial idea to start from.

Facebook Ads Competition Selection

We targeted some key games and video games we knew had overlap in our target audience. We also made sure to exclude Tabletop Games (e.g Monopoly) as those fans are not the target audience for Dungeons & Dragons.

Facebook Ads Data-Driven Selection

For our single class C audience, we did a triple layering of those who like role-playing games, like Kickstarter, AND were engaged shoppers.

The Results

Our estimations were accurate. By entering the same video into 3 different ad auctions, across the same audiences, we were able to get maximum exposure which helped to drive a massive Kickstarter. We basically did a set-it-and-forget-it by loading the ads and scheduling them to start on September 1st at $75/day overall (between the 3 campaigns). Then having them run for 30 days, as long as the Kickstarter was active.

Traffic-wise, we drove 3,618 clicks for an average of 30 cents cost-per-click (CPC). We were unable to optimize for Landing Page Views because we couldn’t get the Facebook ads pixel on the Kickstarter page. So, while that is a lot of clicks, we estimate only half of those actually stuck around until the page loaded.

The best performing audience from a cost standpoint was the house email list Apotheosis Studios had been collecting which drove 130 clicks at 11 cents. Since they had a few thousand on that list that came from Facebook ads initially (which is a sizable audience) this is to be expected. Class 0 audiences are the warmest so they typically perform the best. If there were only a few hundred on that list such a small audience would have a higher CPC.

The next best-performing audience on costs was the website traffic audience. This audience they had been collecting for months drove 72 clicks at 23 cents each.

From a volume standpoint, the lookalikes drove the most clicks by far. This is common as those audiences are often the largest available in any campaign. In fact, this is why we broke apart the Class B and C audiences into their own campaign. We wanted to use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) and knew that if we put ALL the audiences in a single campaign, the lookalikes and data-driven audiences would overshadow the smaller ones.

Case Study Key Take-Away: If you have smaller daily budgets, you may want to break out lookalikes and larger class C audiences (million and larger) into their own ad set separate from any smaller audiences (Page Likers, email list, etc.).

Facebook Ads Click Results

Page Likers had the second most link clicks but they were also 39 cents each. It is interesting to point out the manually chosen class B competition targets drove the same CPC as the lookalikes and the manually chosen class C got the best cost of the larger audiences (class B & class C). The reach wasn’t anything amazing though due to such tight audience selections.

Engagement-wise, we drove 48,193 engagements averaging a penny each. Pretty impressive for only $10/day over a month, yeah?

Well, sort of.

You see, Facebook ads are a tricky beast. “Engagement” can also be a video view. And since the post we were “boosting” was a video, a lot of that came into play.

Facebook Ads Post Engagement Results

That’s some good engagement…

Facebook Ads Post Engagement Campaign Engagement Breakdown

…except when you change the breakdown to actual engagement you see it was all video engagement.

So, while we did get some comments and people talking about it, most of that spending went to short video views. This was something we overlooked initially on the “Triple Boost” idea. So, while it didn’t get thousands of comments, we reached a ton of people with the video and got their attention for a little bit.

Facebook Ads Post Engagement Campaign Video Engagement Breakdown

Those “results” look awfully like the 3-second video plays 🤔

Case Study Key Take-Away: Don’t include a video in “Post Engagement” auctions unless you are cool spending most of that on video awareness and not actual reactions, comments, etc.

Lastly, we have the third auction. The video view auction itself. For this last campaign, we were boosting the video for $25/day across all the audiences using CBO. We knew the lookalikes and such would blow out the impressions, but we also knew our smaller class 0 & class A targets would get love appropriately.

Video View wise, we drove 28,911 ThruPlays at 2 cents each. That’s not bad considering how esoteric something like this is to the average public. Remember, we are trying to Kickstart a Dungeons & Dragons expansion for a heavy metal band’s album. 

Facebook Ads Video Campaign Results

In this case, Campaign Budget Optimization was the right choice to spend $25/day between all audiences. The costs evened out equally in the end. You can also see their Page Liker audience got the most reach as Apotheosis Studios has done a wonderful job building up a great social presence. Even more than the lookalikes 👀

Engagement-wise, the video views did better than the actual Post Engagement campaign. More reason to not run a video in a Post Engagement campaign in most cases.

The video itself was pretty engaging, which is entirely a function of Apotheosis Studios’ world-class visual capabilities.

Case Study Key Take-Away: Make any videos you produce as engaging as possible. Especially if you plan to put money behind the video so more people see it.

As you can see, the Triple Boost tactic was effective to maximize reach and drive bottom-line results. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how many Kickstarter donations can be attributed to Facebook ads, though we can confidently say that, given how nearly all their advertising on Facebook during the backing period was this campaign. We would say it was a huge contributor to the overall success of the project.

What do you think about the Triple Boost tactic? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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