One of South Africa’s leading online property websites, Private Property showcases over 170,000 sales and rental properties and approximately 5,000 suburbs online, offering a platform for listings from both private sellers and agents. The company wanted to drive online brand engagement and awareness to achieve a top-of-mind position among consumers and differentiate itself from competitors. Its digital agency The Media Image (TMI) came up with a strategy to use and test rich media Lightbox Ads on the Google Display Network with the aim of generating new and repeat visits to the Private Property site.

Cutting through with compelling ads

Private Property built an integrated campaign around its partnership with the network television show Top Billing. Coordinating online and offline marketing initiatives ensured maximum impact, with exposure that the brand gained during each episode providing an opportunity to interact with the online audience.

Private Property built an integrated campaign around its partnership with TV show Top Billing.

TMI supplemented the existing display banner strategy with ambitious rich media engagement advertising, which included Google+ promoted posts, hover-to-play ads and lightbox catalogues.

  • Google+ promoted posts amplify content and create conversations across the web, enabled a brand to take a piece of its Google+ content, like a photo or video, and turn it into an engagement ad to run across the Google Display Network.
  • • Hover-to-play ads bring the full sight, sound, and motion power of a video to a standard medium rectangle ad unit. You can also choose an expandable format to combine your video with complementary elements and drive users to the brand’s website.
  • Lightboxes with catalogues appear as standard banners in a variety of sizes but then expand to almost full-screen takeover. Through the use of annotations, these can deep-link directly to specific destination URLs on a brand’s website.

All of these Lightbox Ads give consumers the choice of whether to engage or not. When the user sees the ad, he or she has the option to expand it. This eliminates accidental clicks and improves click-through rates. Advertisers also save money, because they’re only charged once the ad has expanded. Instead of using a pricing model based on costs per click, Lightbox Ads use cost per engagement.

Lightbox Ads have been used to drive not only the brand, but also the messages we are trying to get across. Every campaign has resulted in high visibility and great click-through rates. We will definitely spend more time, money and effort using innovative products from Google to drive our business.”

Sue Clarke, Head of Marketing, Private Property PTY Ltd
Private Property’s Lightboxes Ads appeared as standard banners before expanding to almost full-screen takeovers that contained links to specific destination URLs on the brand’s website.

Bringing home the results

TMI launched Private Property’s Lightbox Ads in May 2014; by December 2014 the formats’ positive impact on performance was resoundingly clear. In a year-on-year analysis, click volumes had increased by 319%, cost per click (or engagement) had decreased by 64%, overall average position had improved by 9%, invalid clicks had fallen by 19% and the invalid click rate had dropped by 81%.

Lightbox Ads assisted a new era of digital marketing for Private Property. There is something almost talismanic about an ad format that can deliver the reach and relatively cheap costs per click associated with the Google Display Network and yet still yield click-through rates that, until now, we normally only see in a good search campaign.

Esti Strydom, Account Manager, The Media Image

Perhaps most impressively, the click-through or engagement rate had grown 386%. TMI found that users were ten times more likely to engage with Lightbox Ads than they were with standard display banners. Lightbox Ads consistently delivered double-digit percentage growth in visitors over the pre-engagement ads figure, a clear indication of the profound effect of Lightbox Ads on user dynamics on the Google Display Network.