Working on HBO’s Game of Thrones with ad units about the “Home of Series”

Ben Johnson on 19 June 2016

Rand Fishkin’s presentation ‘Why Content Marketing Fails’ highlights a really important mistake that many make today, which is the myth that users buy what’s being advertised from the first digital ad. In his presentation he makes a very valid point:

“The truth is that digital advertising requires multiple touch points with the consumer over time and the building of an overall good experience in order for them to remember the brand when they have a need for the product..”

We recently completed work on HBO’s Game of Thrones in the Nordic territories using our tools to engage and convert audiences through to subscribing to HBO’s special offer of a one month free trial. The following post describes how we took Rand’s advice to heart to create a rich interactive experience within the general advertising for the show, allowing users to explore the ‘Home of Series’ proposition that HBO promotes in its marketing.

HBO used Gruvi’s technology to create a series of ‘postable’ players in Facebook that were then advertised to users in Scandinavia via their agency.

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Once the user clicks on the player it opens to display a playlist of video for Game of Thrones in Facebook’s newsfeed, where we included trailer video with behinds the scenes footage and other interesting video. Below this we also included a ‘carousel’ of other great shows, allowing users to explore and watch video within the same advertising experience.

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Part of our work with Gruvi’s platform is to create a system, that helps brands within their existing marketing, to tell their audience why a story is right for them using cool video and creative that is often freely available but poorly stitched into a narrative that allows a user to get the most benefit. We wanted to create a fun marketing experience that meaningfully helps audiences discover and enjoy stories on HBO as fast as possible.

HBO advertising is working towards a conversion model that is focused on highlighting premium shows and driving users towards a promotion. At the same time they may also be releasing other shows that month that do not have a global draw and can be cold starts with limited awareness (with European audiences) and therefore a higher anticipated risk in the mind’s eye of the consumer.

A heightened sense of risk can lead to choice paralysis, which hurts the user experience and could lead to a reluctance to try new series. This is where Gruvi’s technology steps in to create experiences within HBO’s day to day advertising that are rich, interactive  that convert well, but also show ‘WHY’ HBO’s other content is great too.

We are doing this because the ‘Programmable Age’ in advertising should be  about blending audience data with programmatic advertising and engaging those consumers with customisable and relevant creative and content to improve return on advertising spend.

General Results

Some key choice stats for the performance of Gruvi’s widgets where the content is dynamic and interesting are:

  • More than 10% of the audience clicking through to the subscription or special offer page
  • More than 8% of user exploring the other shows available in the carousel
  • More than 30% of the audience watching 4 of the play-listed videos in a sequence (staying on brand message for greater than ten minutes).

When it costs as little as 0.06 euro cents to get a user to click to play one of Gruvi’s players it is easy to see the potential of combining exciting video  that encompass great stories and dropping them into the users experience via Facebook’s newsfeed.


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