💸 Has Venmo decided it is better to give cash away than to spend it on social media ads?

Venmo had bad advertising with privacy issues and the best way to bounce back was to change its search results. What was the best strategy? Buy social media ads or give cash away?

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The cash app Venmo launched what could look like “just another competition on social media.” But it wasn’t. This time anyone could win real cash.

So why is this “cash marketing” campaign different:

  • So far, the campaign was retweeted over 64k times and got more than 13.6 million views on Instagram.

  • There are nearly 2 million entries on Instagram and over 250k on Twitter.

  • The average CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) of an Instagram post is a staggering 7.68$, and on Stories, it is 6.25$. Source data: AdStage

  • The chance of winning 500$ is 1 in 200 = 0.5%. Meaning that users see it as attainable. For comparison, in a lottery scratch card, it is 1 in 48000 = 0.002%.

  • No social media ad can be as effective as someone else you know sharing an achievable opportunity to earn easy cash. It creates excellent network and word-of-mouth effects.

  • It stops people from talking about Joe Biden’s Venmo, and it starts them speaking about “Free cash from Venmo.” Organically, search results change too.

If Venmo did this as an Instagram ad:

  • The campaign would cost 7.68$ per 1000 views as a post. Meaning that 13.6 million views would cost over the 100k$ they are giving away, and no guarantee on how many people would even enter the competition.

  • As a Story, it would cost around 85k$ - assuming it would have the same number of views. Under the 100k$ mark, but how many of these would convert into a competition entry?

The cost on Twitter would be lower but non-negligible, and the reach smaller.

So, what can we extract from this?

  • We are all talking about Venmo, thousands of press articles mention it, and organic search results have changed.

  • With a 100k$ giveaway, Venmo collected over 2.25 million engaged users.

  • If Venmo did this as an ad, it would just be another ad completion and not actual users interacting with the brand.

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