Can Offline Partnerships Be A Home Run For Mobile Performance Marketers?

This is the unlikely story of an Israeli social casino game app and its partnership with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Minor League Baseball team in South Carolina.

This is the unlikely story of an Israeli social casino game app and its partnership with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Minor League Baseball team in South Carolina.

Offline partnerships might seem like a curious path for a math-minded performance advertiser to go down, but performance marketing post-ATT is a whole new ball game.

Apple’s privacy changes, combined with rising CPMs on Android and numerous high-profile game company IPOs, including Playtika and Huuuge, make for an extremely competitive landscape, said Ben Eshel, chief marketing officer at Gliding Deer, a midsize game studio in Tel Aviv that publishes a free-to-play social casino app called Bingo Drive with 1.5 million users.

But brands that strike offline partnerships, such as aligning themselves with a sports team, athlete or musician (anyone or anything with an already established fan base), have lately been found to outperform more well-known competitors, according to a recent report from Digital Turbine and Apptopia.

Last year, Gliding Deer decided to give offline a try.

“We were looking for a different approach, a strategy that could help us compete,” Eshel said. “I started thinking about offline as a way to reach new users and help plant the idea of our brand into people’s heads to increase their probability of installing our app.”

Serendipity

But the question was, who to partner with?

Then, Eshel had a brain wave: Pelicans.

Because one of the main avatars in Bingo Drive is a jolly-looking pelican, Eshel started reaching out to anyone on LinkedIn affiliated with the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team in the hopes of a partnership. After weeks of trying, he finally connected with someone and even had several calls with team executives, although the conversations didn’t progress from there.

But, at some point during his outreach, Eshel happened to notice a reference to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on LinkedIn.

This is the unlikely story of an Israeli social casino game app and its partnership with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Minor League Baseball team in South Carolina.“I didn’t know what that was so I looked them up, realized they were a baseball team, got in touch, managed to get hold of someone through their Facebook page and jumped on a call with them,” Eshel said. “They were instantly open-minded about a partnership.”

It didn’t take long for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to strike a quid pro quo deal with Bingo Drive that involves hyping the app at Pelicans Ballpark and the creation of a customized baseball-themed version of the casino game.

Bingo Drive and the Pelicans are promoting the partnership across offline channels, including billboards, radio and newspapers. They’re also using photos of their respective pelican mascots posing with fans at the stadium as creative assets on Instagram and TikTok.

(In case this ever comes up as a trivia question, Bingo Drive’s mascot is named Peli, and the Pelicans have three mascots: a pelican named Splash, a shark named Rally Shark and a real dog named Slider, who’s trained to collect bats using his mouth. Really, watch it.)

Gliding Deer even went so far as to acquire a classic pink convertible, which it branded with Bingo Drive’s logo, to sport around town for photo ops and do “Carpool Karaoke” with the team’s players.

Early birds get the …

What about the results, though? It is still early innings (sorry).

But there is a large pool of potential new app users in Myrtle Beach. More than 20 million people visit the city annually, many during the summer months, which coincides with the Minor League Baseball season between April and September. A large portion of this vacationing population is made up of retirees, who are among Bingo Drive’s main target demos.

The strategy for now, however, is about exposure and engagement, Eshel said. The installs will come later.

“If you hear a radio ad about Bingo Drive and the Pelicans, then you see a billboard and then you see a photo in your social feed. By the time you’re served with a direct response ad to install our app, you know exactly who we are,” Eshel said.

In other words, both parties are playing the long game.

Bingo Drive is a social casino game developed by Gliding Deer.Up to bat

For the Pelicans, partnering with Bingo Drive gives the team an opportunity to expand its relationship with fans, said Ryan Moore, president of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

“The fan experience has to transcend the physical walls of the ballpark,” Moore said. “Mirroring our in-venue experience through our social accounts has been a goal of ours for some time and allows us to grow.”

Gliding Deer is monitoring the partnership’s impact on its organic downloads with an eye on reducing the effective cost per install over time. The game developer is also tracking how many people open the Bingo Drive app and play while physically attending a game. The number of users doing this has increased week over week, according to Eshel. During a recent game, more than 200 people were playing at once during a single inning.

It’s a start.

“Every app has the potential to go viral,” Eshel said. “What we did here is simply to put ourselves in a better position for that to happen – and we believe in this idea. We already have other partnerships like this one in the works.”

That’s not to say Bingo Drive is giving up on quantitative tactics. It’s just trying to think laterally, especially in the face of signal loss.

“Don’t get me wrong, performance marketing is a crucial muscle for any company that advertises online,” Eshel said. “But what we’re doing is to work on a muscle not a lot of other people have right now – and, even if we fail, we’re learning a lot.”

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