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Advertising proposals

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The purpose of this (very long) post is to update the community on the two proposals done earlier this year to start advertising Dash and the plans for the unused budget. I’ll expand on the execution of the first campaign in the future with more data, but I wanted to publish about the results and remaining funds because that is a timely discussion.


-The campaign that was planned for Facebook was executed on Google because Facebook banned crypto advertising.

-The results are promising, but it is an expensive path to growth.

-We want to repurpose the funds from the second proposal to pay for other marketing expenses, both within Dash Core Group and in within certain community projects.

0. Why did we want to do advertising?

Advertising is a polemic topic. Some people believe it is the solution to every problem, and some people believe that it has never solved any problem. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It is a huge industry because it works well for certain things. But it doesn’t for others, and many companies waste huge amounts of money on it.

We wanted to start doing some controlled advertising testing because we wanted to assess how well it would work for Dash at our current stage of growth. Also, it would allow us to test things we can’t test in another way because we don’t have direct data on our users.

1. What was the plan?

Crypto in general and Dash, in particular, are at a very early stage in their adoption cycle. For that reason, we decided to focus on improving awareness as the primary goal of the campaign. There are many different versions of the user funnel in marketing, but they all start with awareness. Users must first acknowledge your existence and begin to identify that the product is one they should consider. Once you have achieved that, you can move deeper into that funnel to consideration, conversion or repetition.

Awareness is achieved by putting forward key messages in front of your audience. It is not necessary for the audience to act on it, but the impact stays in their mind and slowly builds up. You can do this on many platforms and using a variety of formats. The user is able to learn about our brand without leaving the content they’re currently consuming.

Measuring awareness is complicated, but platforms like Facebook and Google offer tools to at least get an approximation. Facebook polls the audience before and after the campaign. Google only polls after, but they leave a part of the audience unexposed to the campaign so they can use it as a control group. They also give some insight on consideration, which is a nice bonus to have.

We didn’t previously have data on what aspects of Dash are more interesting to our potential audience, so we built many different ads and videos to test which performed best.

Besides improving awareness, we defined a secondary target of further informing interested users. We assumed a certain audience would already be aware of Dash and show interest, or they would progress quickly to that stage. For them, we built a series of landing pages they would see if they clicked through the ads. Those pages had more information, and let the user progress to dash.org if interested. Using different landing pages for each unique ad gave us the ability to frame our messaging around each ad’s targeted language. This allows us to increase click through rate and optimize the conversion of landing page clicks to dash.org clicks. It also allows us to compare performance between various messaging and learn what resonates with potential users for future targeting efforts.

The first campaign was initially prepared to be executed in Facebook. The audience for the campaign was defined around several crypto related criteria. We didn’t want to make it too narrow (you don’t want to preach to the choir), but neither too broad and show ads to people who don’t even think about money.

We chose to run the campaign in three countries: UK, Spain, and Venezuela. Venezuela was chosen because earlier this year we were already starting to see signs of the adoption that is happening now and we wanted to have data from a distressed country. Spain and the UK were chosen because we also wanted to test more mature or stable markets, they had the right size to control costs, and language to avoid dealing with translators (the Ogilvy team that was running the campaign is based in Madrid and had Spanish, Portuguese and English speaking personnel).
2. What about the bans?

A few days before the campaign went live, Facebook issued a blanket ban on crypto ads. We were told by our Facebook sales representative that we could try to run a portion of the ads since parts of it were already approved and loaded into the system, but we decided against that and canceled. There was no point in running a partial campaign and risk having it canceled halfway through before we could learn anything or get only partial results. We also would be unable to change the ads and compare data to the initial campaign, which would have limited our ability to derive insights from the test.

We decided to redo the campaign for the Google ecosystem. This required doing a completely new campaign and adapting the assets, but Ogilvy agreed to do it for no extra charge.

As we were about to launch the new campaign in the Google ecosystem, Google also banned crypto advertising. Trapped in the marmot day. This time we had already paid Google’s invoice. The ban didn’t go into effect until June, so we decided to forge ahead with the campaign. We were able to complete our campaign within this timeframe and collect all desired data.

After we kicked off the campaign, Google inquired about our product and stopped the campaign for a couple weeks. Once we assured them that we were not advertising a security, we were able to resume the campaign. It lasted until late May because the costs we were paying were lower than expected and we could extend the campaign and land more engagement for less.

3. How was execution?

Structure of the campaign

Google ecosystem means Youtube (video), Google Display Network (banners that Google manages for many sites) and Adwords (search).

For video and display the audience was open to crypto interested people in general. For search, the audience was a bit more focused on Dash to control the cost (generic keywords around crypto get very expensive in search).

Both for video and display, we had six creatives of each ad/video. Two were positive generic ones (you can use Dash anywhere, anytime), two were comparisons (cheaper than bitcoin), one was about privacy, and the final one was more general because it was for retargeting (the ad you show to those who have already interacted with another of your ads before).


Brand awareness results

As mentioned above, this is measured by polling the exposed audience and a control group with similar characteristics that has not been shown the campaign. As with any statistical analysis, it needs a certain sample size to have any significance. We were on the smaller size for a campaign to be able to do this kind of study, so we can only go granular to a minimal level on particular segments (sex, age, type of device and certain ads).

Google doesn’t offer the brand lift tool in Venezuela, so we only have data for UK and Spain. Overall, the awareness results obtained are in line with other studies Google has done for the financial vertical, which is remarkable considering that we are in a crowded space and we have not had any continuity with our campaigns. It is also worth mentioning that our investment barely qualified for the analysis. In the UK we were clearly above the average (26,41% vs 17,94% relative increase in ad awareness of exposed group vs control group) and in Spain we were slightly below the benchmark (16,94% vs 17,70%), but the confidence intervals are wide and data needs to be interpreted conservatively. Also, the real value of this tool is to compare different campaigns of the same company over time. That said, the results were promising.

As for smaller segments, in the UK we were in the 25% percentile of the benchmark for males, age groups 25-34 and 35-44, and people browsing in mobile. We were below average for females. In Spain we were in 25% percentile for age group 25-34; and below the benchmark for those who only saw one impression of the ad, and those browsing on a tablet.

The conclusion of all of this is that ads do work if we want to increase awareness of Dash among crypto interested people. However, we are in line with the results of the financial sector, so that means that we would need to invest in line with what they do to obtain similar results, which is not feasible at the moment at a large scale.

We also got some data on an increase of consideration (the user thinks about using Dash), but the statistical significance is very low due to the size of the campaigns, so we cannot yet draw concrete conclusions.

Interaction metrics

The other variable that we wanted to learn about was if we are able to catch the attention of the users so we could provide them with more information about Dash. With video, this happens mostly if the user watches instead of skipping (and then sometimes clicks). In display and search, this happens when the users clicks on the ad and gets to one of our landing pages.


In the video campaign we got almost 8 million views. It is worth noting that we obtained incredibly cheap views. 1 cent in Venezuela and 2 cents in Spain and the UK. Views are people who watch the video completely or at least 30 seconds, whatever comes first (they can skip on the 5-second mark). They are also counted as a view if they click on any of the links in the video.

Our display results achieved 731,993 clicks total at an average cost per click of $0.14 and a click through rate of 0.45%. The CPC we achieved is much cheaper than the financial vertical benchmark ($0.86). The CTR is slightly lower (compared to 0.52%), probably because the campaign was focused in awareness and many of the messages were generic and didn’t have a compelling call to action. It is worth mentioning our CTR of 1.51% in the UK.

Search saw a total of 32,600 clicks with an average CPC of $0.35 and a click through rate of 7.29%. Both metrics are above the financial services benchmark by a wide margin ($3.44 and 2.81%), but the investment was low and the audience for search was the most crypto oriented one. It is also worth noting that in Venezuela we had a 9.3%.

Traffic to landing pages

Our landing pages were viewed 738k times during 616k sessions. The average duration of those sessions was 35 seconds, so typical visitors had time to read the snippets of text and/or watch the video. There were also some links that sent the users to dash.org.

Traffic to dash.org and downloads

38k users progressed to dash.org. These users stayed less on the site than the users from other origins (1 min 23 seg vs 2 min 52 sec), but they downloaded the wallet more often (3.5% of them vs 2.1%).

In the days the campaign was running, it was responsible for 25% of the traffic to the website and 40% of the wallet downloads.

4. Conclusion

Based off of this project results we have learned some valuable points for the future. Most importantly advertising focused on awareness works but it is expensive and likely not conducive to current budget constraints. Our results also show that awareness advertising is most feasible in smaller markets. Major markets do not justify the cost associated with success when thinking about our current budget. Based off of all of this and keeping in mind priorities outside of advertising only very specific markets would make sense to support with awareness ads at this time.

5. What happened with the other proposal?

We didn’t want to start spending the additional money we got from the second proposal immediately because the first campaign was still not executed due to the unplanned delays associated with the bans. The proposal itself had some opposition from the community and the market was already going down, so we decided to be extra conservative with the money. We decided not to spend anything until we had the results from the first campaign and were able to determine if we could still afford to advertise.

6. Now what?

We won’t be doing more advertising for the time being, except maybe for small very targeted campaigns that support other initiatives. Facebook has recently lifted their ban, albeit in a limited way and there are other platforms we can leverage for this. We believe ads can be useful for some parts of our plan, but there are other, more important priorities to focus our money on given how limited our budget is today.

Due to these new circumstances, the best use of the money obtained from the second proposal is to pay for other marketing expenses, both within Dash Core Group and to other projects in the Dash community. By doing that, Dash Core Group can avoid requesting funding from the network and help fund other projects that are not being funded at the moment. We’ll do a decision proposal shortly to confirm that MNOs are ok with this approach. A few examples of projects we want to pay with this are as follows:

-Translations, both of our products and websites. A big part of the translation work was done by community volunteers in the past, but as our portfolio of assets and expansion ambitions grow, we need to professionalize it. We have recently scaled back our big push to create localized up to date versions of all products and translate our recently finished wiki to several languages (docs.dash.org), but still there are costs there because certain parts need to be done. You can see some details on this on Strophy’s updates: https://www.dash.org/forum/threads/dash-in-your-language-2018-translation-push.38821/

-New website. We are doing a project with an external contractor that has done some front-end development for us in the past, Kisslabs. Initially, we were only going to adapt the current website to the new branding while we planned on the development of a new site to replace our current one, that is not optimized for the things we want to do at the moment. However, as we began working towards an uplift, we realized that it made sense to increase the scope and go for a full website. This allows us to avoid doing double work and accomplishing a new site with new branding quicker for less time and money. We are currently working on it and are aiming for a late Q3 release.

-Support other marketing initiatives from the community. In the current market environment, many good projects are being defunded, so we are looking into how we can work with projects to assist them with financing. Unfortunately, we can’t do this for everyone, as the unallocated funding related to the marketing budget is not significant. We are already in conversations to help fund the August event in Caracas, take part in some small cannabis private events in California and Arizona and use Dash Help to do market research in Venezuela.

-Complement other marketing budgets. Besides the general marketing budget, DCG has two other budgets for marketing related activities: conferences+travel and public relations. We would like to consider merging all three of them so we need to keep fewer buffers and can be more efficient in our funding requests and flexible with the use of funds when costs vary above or below our projections.

-Other smaller marketing expenses. Things like merchandise, tools or external contractors for smaller marketing opportunities.


-We started to execute on the advertising plan with good results, but the market situation doesn’t make it feasible to go on with it.

-We will make a decision proposal to repurpose the remaining funds to pay for other marketing expenses, both in DCG and the community.
Hi fernando,

Me and my team have a massive marketing strategy for Dash in Venezuela, we had a meeting with Eugenia from Dash Venezuela to work together on this and we all were really excited about that but in the last moment they decided to hold it because of lack of resources. May I chat with you in private to show you the details? We even made a video for a pre-proposal but there is not time for that.

Hi fernando,

Me and my team have a massive marketing strategy for Dash in Venezuela, we had a meeting with Eugenia from Dash Venezuela to work together on this and we all were really excited about that but in the last moment they decided to hold it because of lack of resources. May I chat with you in private to show you the details? We even made a video for a pre-proposal but there is not time for that.

Sure, let's organize a meeting over PM.
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