PokerStars, the world’s largest poker site, has partnered with Sizmek, a multi-screen ad-serving platform, as well as global technology company, MediaMath, to launch an innovative real-time campaign to promote its European Poker Tour (EPT) – the world’s richest and most popular tour of its kind.

Almost 700 players are competing for the £2,619,000 prize fund in London where the event is being live-streamed. At the final table, where just eight players will remain, the video will actually show the players’ cards, giving viewers an insider’s look at each player’s strategy and prospects for victory.

The campaign is groundbreaking because of a number of key elements designed to increase consumer engagement:

•    Dynamic Creative: The ad unit features a teaser message tied directly to the current video stream to ensure it accurately reflects the action at the table. When a user hovers over the teaser, the localised ad expands to show the live action, so the two components will be continually synchronised via updates every 60-120 minutes across all devices. This ensures the message appearing in the ad unit is accurately aligned with the action on the live stream.

•    Expandable Units via real-time bidding (RTB): The campaign will combine advanced rich media formats with a programmatic buying model to deliver maximum creativity and engagement. Using audience profiling, the campaign will target users who had previously interacted with the PokerStars brand – on the site or social page or at PokerStars.TV – but hadn’t downloaded the app. RTB buys are typically limited to standard online advertising or other very straightforward units to reduce complexity, but working with MediaMath for the programmatic buy, PokerStars and Sizmek will run rich media expandable units to increase engagement.

•    Multi-screen execution: Understanding that a large part of its audience is mobile, where Flash doesn’t always work, PokerStars has developed both Flash and HTML5 dynamic ad units to help engagement across devices.

•    Verification and Viewability: Advanced analytics will be used to capture data across a number of points including ad viewability to ascertain what will drive the maximum webcast views. The data collected will also help PokerStars to optimise future campaigns by using the collated data as the Tour travels across Europe in the coming months.

The campaign commenced in Barcelona on the 24th – 27th August this year, where players competed for more than 7 million euros. The campaign aimed to promote the EPT across nine European markets by serving localised versions of the webcast within an expandable ad unit created by Sizmek.

The Barcelona event was the EPT’s most successful tournament to date, and more people watched the live stream than ever before collectively across all platforms, resulting in:

•    3 million impressions
•    19,000 video views of 30 seconds or more
•    Average dwell 79 seconds – more than twice the benchmark average
•    Total expansion rate 67% vs. 31% benchmark
•    19% of users accessed the campaign via mobile device or tablet
•    As a result of the success of the Barcelona event, PokerStars opened it up to premium inventory across Eurosport in 9 different countries.

Tom Sturman, Digital Advertising Manager at PokerStars comments, “We are always looking for new innovative ways of bringing the world’s best live poker action to a new targeted audience. Working with Sizmek was a no brainer. Their platform allowed us to easily keep the ads in perfect sync with the tournament’s live webcast – it worked very well.” Sturman continued, “This is a great opportunity for us to experiment with the live broadcasting and audience outreach. We have formed a successful and long-term relationship with Sizmek as we learn and evolve alongside the live campaign, helping us to better execute future tournaments.”

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