Pantaya, a leading streaming service for Spanish-language entertainment, optimized its creative strategy and process for ads — and lowered its subscriber acquisition costs — with the help of Apex Growth.
With over 200 global streaming services today, it can be challenging to stand out and convince viewers that your unique platform is worth the investment. Even for a niche service like Pantaya, a leader in Spanish-language streaming content, drawing in (and keeping) new subscribers requires an expert creative strategy to develop ad campaigns that convert.
This is where Apex Growth came in. We worked closely with Pantaya’s internal team to fortify their existing strategies and set them on a path to growth through our Creative Strategy Optimization. This approach sits at the intersection of creative and data and involves running numerous tests on different creative assets so they can be optimized for peak performance.
Our Creative Strategy Optimization work with Pantaya ultimately led to a 26% improvement in subscriber acquisition costs (SAC) while optimizing tens of millions of dollars of ad spend.
Calling in the experts: Building the next level of success
On shows like “This Old House,” everyday homeowners call in expert contractors to help them tackle their DIY home improvement projects. The homeowners featured are often skilled in the basics but need extra expert guidance to get the job done efficiently, correctly, and well. They are inquisitive, engaged, and excited to learn from the “This Old House” crew to bring their dream home to life.
This is how the Pantaya team approached their work with Apex. This group is genuinely passionate about its work and wants its top-notch programming to reach as many subscribers as possible. They also wanted to capitalize on their strengths to inform cutting-edge advertising campaigns with strong returns on investment, so they could build on what was working and reach that next level of success.
Like many clients who hadn’t worked with a firm like Apex before, Pantaya knew they needed help but didn’t know where to begin. It’s like adding a second story to your house as a “DIYer”: Could you do it yourself? Yes. But the process goes faster and smoother with far fewer bumps in the road if you have a team of experts on your side.
Beyond ad buying: Leaning into an optimized creative strategy
When we began working with Pantaya, they were eager to be more data-driven and strategic in their approach — just as they are when they create their wildly successful niche content in genres like Spanish-language family comedies. However, a formal “creative strategy” for their advertising hadn’t made its way into their playbook.
Their team assumed that adding more ad networks and campaigns was the key to improving their user acquisition performance and lowering those acquisition costs — and that’s what they originally came to us for. Pantaya was facing the uphill battle many advertisers face in the ever-evolving digital landscape: The old “tried-and-true” methods of targeting audiences and adjusting the bids aren’t working anymore.
Little did they know that success in the modern digital advertising space goes far beyond just media buying. It takes more than trying out new channels and campaigns randomly to see what sticks. Instead, it’s Creative Strategy Optimization that truly drives performance for media buying.
Without a plan for assessing what’s working and adapting to real-time results, it was unlikely Pantaya would be able to scale its advertising efforts effectively, no matter how excellent and on-point its creative assets and branding were. By simplifying Pantaya’s campaigns, continuing to test creatives, and making real-time creative assessments, the Apex team developed “Key Learnings,” i.e., macro themes that determined the new way we approached creative production.
Fortunately, Pantaya’s team was open to trying all forms of digital acquisition and leaning into our creative recommendations to reduce their overall cost per subscriber. They discovered the power of Creative Strategy Optimization to achieve their goals. They took our suggestions to heart when it came to evolving and optimizing their existing creative process.
In fact, they were so convinced that they ended up incorporating a much broader project scope so Apex could achieve more together with the Pantaya team. The result was a $2M+ savings in previously-wasted ad spend and a much better return on Pantaya’s creative investments.
Developing the framework and foundation for lasting growth
The Apex team worked alongside Pantaya’s COO to oversee the engagement, which involved collaborating with other internal departments on creative strategy and recommendations. Their initial engagement with Apex was about executing a plan for user acquisition through media buying. However, through our consultations with Pantaya, we uncovered additional opportunities to unlock the full potential of their creative.
Our work included developing an optimized creative process, production, and best practices for creatives. This allowed us to scale user acquisition more effectively in current channels, enabling us to utilize cross-channel creative data to expand into additional acquisition channels and generate native high-converting creative content.
We had numerous touchpoints with departments throughout the organization through our Creative Strategy Optimization meetings, including product, marketing, creative, and leadership. Apex quickly became a trusted advisor to all those departments and even to the CEO of Pantaya’s parent brand Hemisphere (NASDAQ: HMTV).
Apex’s strategy team began by thoroughly auditing Pantaya’s ad performance over the last several quarters. We identified a series of optimal creative themes based on what that data showed worked best for them. We then ideated concepts for briefs with their internal team to give direction before the briefing process and continued to offer feedback throughout every creative deliverable touchpoint until final delivery.
In a nutshell, it looks like this:
Pantaya employs a rockstar team of in-house creatives. However, before Apex came in, they hadn’t thought to slice and dice their existing videos and still shots and repurpose them for multiple iterations of Facebook ad creative. As we worked through our concepts together and developed a roadmap for their Creative Strategy Optimization, Pantaya asked intelligent and thoughtful questions demonstrating their curiosity and willingness to learn from our extensive experience in the advertising space. “Should we…,” “What should we…,” and “How should we…” were frequent openings for dialogue between our team and theirs.
The result was a plan to develop proactive, iterative creative assets that we could test in real-time. A few of the testing variables we looked at included:
- Text size
- Text vs. no text
- Adaptive treatments on images
- :7s videos vs :15s videos vs :30s videos
- Brand card video intro vs. No brand card video intro
- Offer Prop banner sizes, colors, placements
With leadership’s sign-off, Apex implemented a dedicated temporary creative testing campaign to see which concepts were most influential among Pantaya’s audience, with an equal budget distribution for each. We ran numerous experiments to ensure our results were statistically significant enough to be the basis for accurate, impactful business ad spend decisions. The winning concepts were then pushed into production and turned to “always on,” Apex documented the results and the resulting impact on month-over-month growth throughout the engagement.
Between our monthly retrospectives, we would execute biweekly creative “pruning” to optimize the concepts and double down on what worked. Each BAU campaign ran for about two weeks and was analyzed based on certain thresholds, including scale, iCAC, and spending. Low performers were paused while top performers were moved out of the “sandbox” to make room for new creative test concepts. By testing five new creative concepts every two weeks, we quickly scaled up our BAU efficiency.
By continuing to slot in new creative into our BAU, we were able to mitigate ad fatigue and allowed Pantaya to remain at steady SAC efficiency.
Embracing a growth mindset and working together for drastic improvements
Because Pantaya was so open to our creative approaches to acquiring subscribers, we had a “concert” of optimization strategies, all working together to produce faster and greater results. We worked with Pantaya to adapt and switch tactics and creative based on the data we gathered from these test campaigns, including the timing and scheduling of ads. Pantaya even switched over to our recommended task management tool, Monday.com, to better track and manage the creative workflow.
Throughout the project, Apex and Pantaya developed a strong collaborative partnership that made our teams extremely efficient with production. Their strong desire to fortify their existing strategies meant they were open to embracing a growth mindset and new best practices, even those they hadn’t thought of or tried before, so we could drastically improve their user acquisition performance together.
The Pantaya team’s dedication and Apex’s relentless commitment to our client’s success drove impressive results. Ultimately, Pantaya saw growth and improvement in areas that may have remained stagnant or declined over time.
How can Apex help YOU?
At Apex, every client we work with has unique market positioning and problems to solve. While our overall Creative Strategy Optimization process can be broadly applied, we adjust it to take an individualized approach to each project we take on.
Each of our partner’s stories is exciting, thrilling, and full of previously unrecognized growth potential, just like Pantaya’s untapped potential for optimizing subscriber acquisition costs with a clear, adaptive creative strategy. We listen, learn, and use our decades of experience to craft efficient and effective solutions to help our partners reach their next level.
You can work with Apex to test faster, learn faster, and grow faster without sacrificing intention or quality. Consider Apex an expert partner who understands your business and cares about results. Whether we’re working with a C-level executive or your entire team, we are here to provide the expert guidance you need to keep moving forward.
Work with us to start building the foundation for your biggest business goals.