Marketing a new TV show that isn’t on a traditional network presents unique challenges. Namely: How to drive viewers to a series in a binge-watching environment, without being able to say “tune in next week for an all-new episode”?
To promote the “Turbo Fast” racing-snail show from DreamWorks Animation, Netflix uses its content-recommendation algorithms to suggest shows to kids within its own service. But DWA wanted to establish something more, outside of Netflix’s walls.
After Netflix launched the initial episodes last December — its first original children’s series, based on last summer’s “Turbo” movie — DreamWorks Animation created a dedicated website at TeamTurboFast.com. Originally launched in January, the first iteration was basic: It essentially provided info on the show and linked to Netflix. The studio wanted to collect data on how visitors used the site and what they wanted to see.
“It was not optimized for mobile, and there was not a lot to do,” said Justin Pertschuk, DreamWorks Animation’s head of digital marketing. “People weren’t sticking around.”
DWA relaunched a significantly souped-up TeamTurboFast.com on June 25, outfitted with more content, new games and the ability to collect dozens of badges. The relaunch coincided with the addition of five more “Turbo Fast” eps (bringing it to a total of 15 now available, out of a total of 26 episodes ordered).
“We wanted to create a destination for kids to have an on-demand, 365-day-a-year extension of the show,” Pertschuk said. “Ultimately, we’re trying to figure out how to turn a nonlinear TV property into a brand.”
DWA enlisted RED Interactive Agency, whose investors include WME, to develop the “Turbo Fast” site. The first goal was to make the new site optimized for mobile devices (unlike the previous one), because DWA’s data showed that upwards of 90% of kids were accessing the site from a smartphone or tablet.
Together with RED, DreamWorks Animation also added more content. The home screen provides a horizontal scroll through Starlite City, where Turbo and his racing teammates live, with new image galleries and interactive activities. The overhauled website includes gamification elements to keep kids engaged and coming back; for example, users are encouraged to customize their own avatar and earn points for a spot on the global leaderboard. Members can win collectible badges based on content consumption, gameplay and how regularly they visit.
“Providing gamification on the site was important to create loyalty and create community,” Pertschuk said.
The site also is global in scope — available in nine languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Dutch. Those line up with the countries where Netflix has launched streaming service to date, with additional European territories including France and Germany coming later this year.
Naturally, TeamTurboFast.com also prominently features notices of new episodes on Netflix. It’s also slated to include episode-specific downloads, games and activities.
Since the site’s relaunch, accompanied by a three-day ad campaign, unique users have grown 126%, page views are up 303% and average session duration has increased 40%, according to Pertschuk. In addition, whereas only 10% of TeamTurboFast.com users previously were returning to the site again, 25% of users are revisiting the new site.
DWA will use the “Turbo Fast” website as a template for additional shows produced under the Netflix pact, which encompasses more than 300 hours of programming. Next up are three new shows set for debut this fall: “King Julien,” “Puss in Boots” and “VeggieTales in the House.” DWA has set up a global account system, so that users who have signed up with TeamTurboFast will already be registered for the new sites.
With the DWA animated series, Netflix isn’t waiting until an entire season of episodes is ready before offering them (a departure from its usual binge-friendly release sked). And given the staggered batches of episodes, “between the drops of content, we need to keep kids interested in the brand,” Pertschuk said.