Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Windorphins eBay Campaign Deconstructed

eBay has been running a mysterious mass-market ad campaign for the past two months, referred to as "Windorphins." Cryptic messages on billboards, bus stops, newspaper stands show colorful, cutesy blobs like the one above, and some feel-good message that you might think is more appropriate for an anti-depressant or Microsoft Windows ad instead of one for the onlin auction giant.

But you see, you get a "windorphin"-- a play on the stress hormone endorphin-- when you win an auction. Oh. Right.

The purpose of this post isn't to argue the merits of the ad campaign itself, but rather to try to get a sense of what the impact is of such a mass-market, eyeballs campaign where the brand is hidden behind some mystery. The hope is that this triggers curiosity in people who already know (and are indifferent) to the brand, and both reinvigorates abandoned users, as well as enchants people who had previously dismissed the idea of using the given brand's products. A very similar example could be found in the campaign for their search engine about "the Algorithm."

So, enough of the theory-- is this a good use of limited marketing dollars? Certainly Windorphins has gone from no recognition to some semblance of fame in a very short time...

But that graph is useless without comparing it to something... more impactful. Like the ladies of the press, Paris and Britney:

Now we see that windorphins really aren't making all that much of a splash, particularly for a site with the girth of eBay. To be fair, Paris and Britney are monstrous search terms, but that's the type of traffic one might think eBay needs to generate for this to be a worthwhile endeavor.

However, in the interest of pseudo-science, let's take a look at something more up the alley... another recently rising star, like David Beckham of the Galaxy. Surely eBay can compete with Beckham in the US? And for good measure, let's throw in a well known, but off the radar actor, oh, say Rob Schneider?

Ouch. Beckham has bent it all around the Windorphs. And Schneider, at minimal baseline levels, is pulling the same.

It's hard to tell what the actual traffic is that makes up these graphs. The best we can do from publicly available data is to take a look at Quantcast's chart, which is very likely underestimating the traffic and is likewise dated to only the beginnings of the campaign:

Oh my. Approximately 3-4 thousand visitors a day? What does each "eyeball" cost?

One other thorn: If you type in "Windorphin" on Google, the first result isn't even Ebay's! (Windorphins does lead to eBay if you're feeling lucky, however).

So the laymen's conclusion about mass eyeball marketing in major cities for a cutesy technology product with zero name recognition and no brand association? It simply isn't doing a whole lot of anything for eBay but costing them lots of money, and perhaps a collective annoyance among the public when people discover the brand behind the ruse.

You can discuss your thoughts on the Windorphs and Windorphins at Experience Project.

Other articles of interest here,here, and here.

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