Case Study: Etisalat’s data driven campaign boosts app sales and engagement

Angela Hundal / June 2019

Data and insights paired with highly targeted advertising techniques offers Etisalat’s Smiles app powerful brand impact and elevated business performance.

About Etisalat:

the largest telecommunications corporation in the GCC

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE

serves 11.6 million users and 300,000 large, medium and small enterprises and government users in the UAE

Widest coverage of 3G and 4G mobile technology in the UAE


Increase Etisalat’s Smiles app sales and drive stronger engagement


Use Google’s data-driven insights and targeting techniques to create an innovative Smiles app-launch campaign


An increase of 35% in Smiles app sales, and an app engagement boost of 24%

“We were impressed by the quality of insights and data that Google shared with us. This campaign demonstrates that using data-driven insights to develop a campaign’s creative messaging could drive strong business results.” – Fares Fares VP/Digital Communication - Etisalat UAE

Ditching tradition for innovation

The GCC’s largest telecommunications corporation, Etisalat, offers innovative technologies and services. For its latest Smiles app-launch campaign, Etisalat looked for innovation to boost the app’s sales and engagement. 

A bit of background: Etisalat’s Smiles is a deals and rewards app that offers customers discounts and buy-one-get-one-free deals on different categories from movie tickets to entertainment, shopping, dining, travel, and wellness. Traditionally, Etisalat marketed its app only twice a year to drive product awareness, engagement and acquisition of offers and discounted deals through promoting a YouTube video highlighting all the app’s services. 

For its latest creative campaign, it wanted to take a more strategic approach, working with Initiative Media and Google’s BrandLab for one month to conceptualise an innovative launch plan backed by Google’s findings and data-driven insights. Brandlab is a 4-6 week program that aims to deliver customized audience insights based on Google data, video creative best practices and an advanced media orchestration plan addressing a specific brand challenge.

Data-driven bumper campaign boosts business and media results

BrandLab recommended that Etisalat launches a campaign showcasing ten different ‘bumpers’ (six-second video-format ads) featuring customized messages directly related to gathered insights. BrandLab suggested a three-pronged approach:

1. They helped them segment their audience into 5 personas and then had them deliver targeted content to each

2. Based on data gathered from both observed and declared sources (including audience signals and Google Consumer Surveys), they devised with an ‘always on’ strategy i3. BrandLab provided an advanced media orchestration plan that covered all points of the funnel (from awareness to purchase) that was based on the identified audience segmentation and signals.

Based on this information, they decided to use bumper ads that boast highly targeted capabilities that can take content, interest or time of day into account. For instance, Google noticed an increase in movie queries on Thursdays and recommended that Etisalat feature bumpers that promoted discounted cinema offers on that day.  

Using this innovative approach, Etisalat was able to drive its Smiles app acquisition rate by 35% and grow monthly active users by 24%. 

The new launch plan resulted in stronger media results, with the app seeing a 10.8% lift in brand awareness, a 12.3% favorability boost, and a 10.7% rise in purchase intent. 

“Gone are the days of companies relying solely on focus groups and third-party market research,” says Tamer Alphonse, Google’s Telecom Industry Manager. “Marketers don’t get real insights about products. The power of Google’s data and insights is the fact that information is gathered in real time. This approach is incredibly useful in the creation of campaigns that drive higher impact.” 


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