Intergalactic domination through a multi-channel digital strategy

Do you remember spending hours exploring an infinite galaxy?

The all new Elite: Dangerous is a unique, connected gaming experience that takes a nostalgic nod back to its original days as an 80s PC game, whilst hurtling into the future with an interactive, expansive, virtual reality game of excellence. Created by Frontier Developments back in 1984, the original Elite game is highly recognisable.

Warping through the 1:1 scale of the universe at the speed of light, where you command your own ship through the 400 BILLION star systems, completing missions, collecting bounties and entering into combat with some of the MILLION+ strong active community.

The brief

Jellyfish was called to Elite: Dangerous' rescue when they were in dire need for help with their marketing campaign. Elite: Dangerous raised £1.5 million (~$2 million USD) through Kickstarter crowd which was made possible by more than 25,000 backers. The revival of the Elite franchise then became a reality.

Previous Elite gamers have dreamt of the revival for over 30 years and finally their dream was coming true, meaning that Elite: Dangerous had to meet their expectations. The finances were secured, the best space simulator developers were in business, now it was time to focus on their marketing campaign. When Frontier approached us they had a marketing team of two people, and they required our digital marketing expertise to help to ensure they got the best results possible.

space ship simulator game

The objectives

To ensure Elite: Dangerous had a successful revival they required the following to be improved:

  • Drive more brand awareness
  • Drive more sales of Elite Dangerous game

This project required creativity, innovation, reflection, measurement and engagement, fortunately, we have all of this in abundance.

Spaceships firing

The solution

Our first task was to enhance and optimize their website - our creative team made changes to the online store to improve transaction rates and experiences, ensuring the site was fully responsive to all devices.

We created a programmatic display advertising campaign to drive the audience to the new, efficient website, increasing brand awareness which resulted in an increase in brand search volume. The additional search volume then fed consumers back into the sales funnel through the focused PPC activity.

We created a global PPC campaign that ran in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, France, and Germany, returning strong results all round through cheap brand terms used to obtain an optimum click-through with the lowest costs.

Ensuring ad copy in non-English speaking countries delivered the same story was a challenge, so we worked closely with Frontier’s content team to achieve the desired result. Again we were mindful of the value and pressure of every pound spent, so investigated each country thoroughly.

To get desired results we used various creative video assets for display, GSP, Yahoo Gemini, and a YouTube campaign. Also, social channels were used collaboratively to full effect, with community management picked up by Frontier and all social paid efforts managed by our social team to create engaged fans who would spread the word globally and would further drive traffic to the website.

social media
Social Pages and Community

Conversion optimization & mobile design

Following a thorough CO (conversion optimization) audit, we identified key areas of improvement which would quickly increase interaction with key CTAs which in turn would increase sales of the Elite: Dangerous PC game.

The audit looked at both desktop and mobile. Following a presentation of our findings, Frontier agreed that a new layout would improve the overall experience. Using the chosen Magento theme, we created the responsive store which services all Frontier games and merchandise.

Another key strength for the display campaign was the amount of sales it drives for the Steam platform. As this sits outside search engines, display is uniquely situated as one of the media that can effectively drive sales for this platform through ‘view-through conversion tracking.'

Using programmatic targeting options we were able to take the relatively large gamer audience and split it into high-interest and low-interest segments and adjust our bid prices appropriately leading to strong Steam sales and a significant amount of assisted sales driven through to PPC.

YouTube campaign

Due to YouTube having a sheer amount of content available to target as well as ad placement we devised a solution by splitting the campaign into two areas: the in-search activity and the in-stream (display) activity. 

The PPC team handled the search and applying their findings and the display team undertook the placing the video in front of the correct users. 

Due to YouTube being a perfect place to create brand awareness and engagement we placed Elite coverage across branded landscapes where RTB ads would also appear, this was to create maximum brand awareness and engagement through in-search that would later be recalled when seeing TrueView ads. To do this, we created a list of branded search terms as well as generic keywords, which RTB then used to contextually target the same landscapes that in-search ads would show on. This created a truly engaging and joined-up approach that resulted in strong engagement and brand recall.

2184%ROAS ahead of launch
1.4million copies of the game sold
1awesome team

The results

The success of the Elite: Dangerous project has been a ‘game-changer,’ both for Frontier Developments and for Jellyfish. The target Cost Per Acquisition at the start of the project was to come in below £9 (~$12 USD) if possible – we smashed this target by driving a CPA of only £4 (~$5.50 USD) and an average Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) of 600%.

In the two weeks before and after the game’s full launch (16th December 2014) the Pay Per Click (PPC) Cost Per Acquisition went down to just £1.83 (~$2.50 USD), creating a Return on Advertising Spend of a staggering 2184%.

Brand awareness was enhanced through both the creative and the functional aspects of every marketing initiative undertaken, from social to search, video to website. All of these approaches were used consistently and cohesively so that sales were maximized.

For example, through the use of a successful programmatic display advertising campaign, visitors were guided to the Elite: Dangerous website, where they had a positive consumer experience and were driven to purchase thanks to the smooth enhancements and optimization of the online store – no matter what device they were using.

A combination of activity including PPC and Display advertising have led to more 1.4 million copies of the game being sold to date – a fantastic result that has exceeded all original expectations.

As a result of such an outstanding marketing campaign, Frontier Developments have now increased their marketing spend with Jellyfish ten-fold, and they continue to enjoy a high level of engagement, interaction and ultimately sales from their audience.

We began working with Jellyfish in 2014 with the aim of increasing sales volumes of the game Elite: Dangerous. Jellyfish have consistently increased orders month on month and the team have also been proactive in looking at other opportunities to explore.

Marketing Manager, Elite Dangerous
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