Peter Cornish discovers app-based balloon marketing fun with Shutta, Just Pop The Balloon. Photo by Romain Garrigue.

“In the beginning there were photo missions,” I was told as I sat down with Barbara Ximenez Bruidegom and her partner, James Shimell, founders of Ho Chi Minh City based video app Shutta, to learn more about their newly launched app, Just Pop The Balloon.

Their original product, Shutta, was launched as a photo-from-video app allowing users to pull still photos from a video clip, making it easy to capture action shots. It quickly gained popularity through a series of in-app photo missions, setting users tasks and quests, and developed into a valuable social channel that enabled brands to leverage user generated content as part of their marketing campaigns.

As developers of the app, James and Barbara had made the conscious decision not to charge for use of the app, nor to cover it with advertising messages from the brand clients they work with. Adverts become annoying and detract from user experience, so often the return is not worth the money invested.

So, faced with the question of how to generate revenue from a popular app without charging their users, they needed to find options that would continue to engage while providing client brands with a return on their marketing spend without being intrusive to the user. The answer, it seems, is with these photo missions, whatever they may be.

Location Missions

It turns out these photo missions are in fact an exciting new development to the existing app that introduces improved features and expands on functionality. Referred to as Shutta Location Missions, this innovative, updated version of the original app will both continue to entertain and engage their 2.5 million users, while giving their expanded client base the ‘holy grail’ of elusive marketing KPIs: measurable online-to-off line return on investment.

Barbara explained more. “We realised, from a marketing perspective, that contests worked well to build engagement with our audiences and for introducing our clients’ products and services.” As they were able to organise photo contests with the original app, they discovered that user-generated content builds credibility and performs well on social media.

By leveraging posts from micro influencers they noted that key content had a high “stickiness” factor, meaning that people were able to recall it over a long period of time. From here they realised that this same process could be applied to branded marketing, and instead of running photo contests pushed out for users, they could ask users to find and collect content that matched a particular brand’s vision.

When Domino’s Pizza wanted to run a campaign that connected eating pizza with having a party, Shutta ran a mission that encouraged users to post photos of them partying, with or without pizza. “We were then able to leverage this content over social media to funnel traffic from the Shutta app social media channels to Domino’s social media,” Barbara explained.

Impressive Reach

Through effectively generating highly qualified traffic for their client brands, Shutta have now run more than 70 campaigns achieving an impressive 35% click-through rate, a staggering 3,249% more than the global average. Of course, this is highly attractive to their clients. In some cases, they have experienced a 55% click-through rate on their social media, but traffic flow to their client’s social media has resulted in 88% engagement.

This means that they are reaching the right people with the right content in the right context to encourage them to interact and engage with the client brand. But while this is effective for online activation to conversion, consumer behaviour, in Asia especially, happens in the real world. “People might research a product online, but they want to go to a shop, touch the product, ask questions and use traditional payment methods,” James explained.

The new Shutta Location Missions create a buzz online that has a measurable offline conversion, the ‘holy grail’ performance indicator for marketers, all through the popping of balloons.

What could be more fun! The updated functionalities of the Shutta app are now only available to users in HCMC who are able to access close to three hundred ‘balloons’ in the apps geo-location map.

Launched on February 28 at 3pm, the mission map guides users around the city to locations where balloons are stationed. Popping a balloon triggers a challenge and releases new digital swag, such as video effects or animations, or wins the user a prize or discount from participating companies or establishments. The app contains treasure hunts, polls and quizzes, photo challenges and mini games that users can take part in in order to win their prizes.

Users also get access to unique video effects that can only be unlocked at specific locations. Some balloons are time sensitive, meaning that the app can be used to promote individual events, such as festivals and concerts. For client brands, the app offers almost unlimited promotional potential. For users, it offers an ongoing opportunity to win prizes.

Early Adaptors

Platinum Premium Beers, Buddha Bar & Grill, and Tomatito Tapas Bar are amongst the first brands and establishments to engage their audience through Shutta Balloons, with more outlets lined up to come on board in the coming months. From their perspective, this is a way of bringing people to their business locations in a manner that is both entertaining and, from a marketing perspective, measurable.

Platinum is launching their campaign with 21 balloons at locations around the city, including a treasure hunt round six secret locations where people must complete a challenge at the first location before the second is revealed.

The premium beer company is offering some great prizes for participants, including plenty of beer, merchandise and the chance to win a private Platinum party for you and your friends.

As more companies come on board to take advantage of the marketing insights that Shutta Balloons offers, there will be more Shutta Location Missions rolled out in the city and around the region. More missions mean more fun and prizes. Whether you’re a brand that wants to get on board, or a user that wants to win some great prizes around the city, this is an app that’s destined to make impact. Download it today.