Mobile Marketing

20X your advertising ROI: Lessons from Uber VP of Marketing Kellyn Kenny

Becky Doles


When considering how to amp up your advertising efforts by two, 10, or even 20 times, you may want to take a page out of Uber’s playbook. At Postback ‘17, Uber VP of Marketing Kellyn Kenny shared how her team approached advertising after upping their investment 20X.

How Uber designs viral, insights-driven in-app experiences

As Kenny put it, “We started leaning into the sophistication. Making sure that both creatively we were getting more sophisticated, but also making sure that we were bringing really rich consumer insights to the fore and injecting all of that into the creative. Had it not been for really insights-driven marketing, we might have been stuck with the stuff on the left,” she said, showing a slide with static mobile ads on one side, compared to rich media storytelling on the other.

Uber focused their efforts on moving beyond acquisition, providing in-app experiences that gave users such overwhelmingly fun experiences that they couldn’t help but share. Uber created the moment, but it was their customers who drove it (pun intended) even further. For example:

  • On National Cat Day, Uber delivered feline friends to app users, who paid just $20 for 15 minutes of play time, with all proceeds benefiting animal shelters. What’s more, every kitten delivered throughout the promotion was adopted.
  • During the rollout of driver tipping, Uber let both riders and drivers in on the fun. With an in-app event called “Tip Tip Hooray,” Uber matched every tip throughout the day, contributing an additional $1M in earnings to drivers on the platform.
  • Today, August 11, they’ll replicate the experience of an ice cream truck rolling through neighborhood streets in the summer, offering free ice cream on-demand when customers request it in the app.

Questions to ask yourself to create your own iconic moments

A budget and reach like Uber’s is helpful, of course, but you can create these moments for your own brand, even without a scale like Uber’s. Ask yourself:

  • What’s going on in pop culture, holidays, or news that people are excited about — where you could capitalize on the buzz?
  • At what times do people open your app, and how could you make life a little easier or more fun at that moment?
  • What problem are customers trying to solve, and how could you address one part of it before they think of it?
  • What’s one thing you could do tomorrow that would make your customers extra glad they’re YOUR customers?

Or, as Kenny asked our audience: “How do you have these real, emotional moments with customers, when you marry great advertising and really stellar in-app experiences?”

Harnessing the power of brand and mobile to reach customers

As Kenny closed, “We can’t stop at acquisition. If we’re not using mobile, if we’re not using advertising, if we’re not smartly weaving together the power of brand, advertising, acquisition — then we’re missing an opportunity that I think actually elevates this thing potentially two-fold.”

To hear her full 15-minute lightning keynote, watch the video on YouTube or by clicking below.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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