PopSockets: Mobile Innovator

Since first launching as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, PopSockets smartphone grips have grown to sell over 100 million worldwide. (It officially became a business in 2014, out of founder David Barnett’s garage in Boulder, Colorado.) The distinct, customizable phone accessories provide extra grip and self-expression for mobile users. The round, button-like appendages allow people to confidently snap selfies without worrying that their phones will slip and fly off the edge of a captivating panorama. In recent years, PopSockets has allowed fans to create their own image that can be printed on the grip. And now PopSockets has embarked on a new phase in their evolution by making “Swappable” – that is, interchangeable – PopGrips.

Bringing this innovation to the phone’s exterior, it’s not surprising that PopSockets also looks to make an impact on-screen, in the form of mobile advertising. To reinforce the rollout of Swappable PopGrips, PopSockets leveraged a new social-media platform through Facebook. Becky Gebhardt, PopSockets’ CMO, finds the brand’s new offering as “a great way of using multiple tops and exchanging them.” She said that “Swappable PopGrips are a whole new way to engage with PopSockets’ grips. In pushing these, part of the campaign is to show fans how to swap.” The campaign speaks to a broad group of consumers, ages 18 to 54. An experimental new playable ad on Facebook, which ran in January, focused specifically on the product’s sweet spot of women, 25 to 45.

The playable mobile ad works like a traditional “memory” matching game. Players manipulate a group of PopGrips, one at a time, and attempt to pair off those grips with matching patterns. The game was designed by digital creative shop Undertone.

“We were looking to leverage mobile technology and an immersive interactive experience within a mobile environment,” said Sonny Kim, President, Co-Founder at Verte Agency, PopSockets’ media agency of record. “During the Q4 holiday season, everybody liked the brand reveal, and then the opportunity came along through Undertone to offer the ability to alpha-test Facebook’s playable ad units. This was exciting because Undertone understands iterations within mobile channels.”

The opportunity to test this new platform came about through an “extremely tight-knit relationship” between Facebook and Undertone’s sister company, MakeMeReach, the third-largest Facebook Marketing Partner in the world, according to Jon Mottel, Undertone’s Director, Social Strategy. “As a trusted partner, the Facebook team frequently approaches MakeMeReach with new product opportunities for mutually beneficial testing and learning,” Mottel explained. “When the playable ads for brand awareness alpha were brought to them, they immediately thought of Undertone, due to our expertise in building high-impact, immersive experiences.”

The results of the January deployment showed 15 percent better ad recall for the playable ad, and an estimated ad recall lift from the campaign of 56 percent above Undertone’s benchmark, the company reported. The playable ad averaged 5.3 interactions per unique user, with an average engagement of 4 and half minutes. Twenty-four percent of players completed the game by matching all the PopSockets pairs.

“We agreed that this was a fantastic opportunity to participate in the early stages of an exciting product that was right in our technical wheelhouse, and we decided with the MakeMeReach team that it would make sense for Undertone to find a client of ours for whom we could build the playable ad unit and manage the media via the MakeMeReach platform,” Mottel stated. “For us, knowing this product rolled out, we’re excited to be at the forefront, and will apply this experience to future campaigns.”

PopSockets Director of Marketing Melanie Love pointed out that jumping on this opportunity to run a playable ad showed the brand’s “ability to move quickly and try something new.” The brand is also nimble with regards to the kind of charities it supports. Last year, PopSockets enlisted celebrities and influencers like singer-actress Zendaya to lead their new “Poptivism” philanthropic initiative. To date, the company has donated over $2 million to an array of causes, such as the ALS Foundation and Save the Elephants. This year, the company is opening it up to their customers to design PopSockets grips for the cause of their choice, and half of the money from the sale of these grips will be given directly to that charity. For Love, this new program is “the ultimate form of self-expression” by the brand’s fanbase.

Sonny Kim sees this new initiative as part of “the democratization of giving” that speaks to Generation Z and young Millennials who are attracted to brands that align with their values.

Whether engaging mobile users with playable ads, or touching their hearts with swappable charities, PopSockets continues to impress consumers as a viral brand that is truly interactive, a digital-native merchant now available at major retailers, with plans to continue expanding globally with their stylish, customized designs.

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