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Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame 2010

Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame 2010
Application Security, Inc. ís "The UNProtected" web film and comic book series
"The UNProtected" website

MarketingSherpa Summary:
B2B marketers are sometimes so caught up in generating leads that they forget "leads" are really people -- and people like to be entertained. See how this database security vendor created a fun, entertaining way to educate prospects about the importance of database security, using an online film series, a graphic novella and a user-generated video contest they promoted across a host of social media channels. In the end, 45% of visitors to the film microsite became qualified leads when touched with subsequent nurturing.

Agency: None
Client/company: Application Security, Inc.
Launch date of campaign: September 2009
Target audience/demographic: CISOs, CSOs, DBAs, auditors, security professionals

Campaign Goal:
The primary goal of “The UNProtected” was to raise awareness in a unique and engaging way to the sobering fact that database security is no longer a "nice-to-have" option, but a critical necessity for most companies. Last summer we were embarking on an aggressive social media marketing plan -- but didn’t want to use those vehicles just to advertise our product or self-promote. We needed content that was entertaining and educational that the audience would be compelled to visit, view or read.

We believed that if we entertained and answered their key questions in general terms, they would be attracted to our company and visit our website to learn more about us and our solutions. The main goal was not to sell product but to position ourselves as trusted advisors and experts in the field who could assist and educate them in an interesting and entertaining way.

Campaign Description:
"The UNProtected" campaign includes a video webisode series, a graphic novella titled Spear-Phishing, and a video contest, “The Greencrest Financial Complaint Contest.”

- The video series: Echoing the gritty, fast-paced, dramatic style of "The Wire" and "24," the five-part "webisodic" video series tells the story of Greencrest Financial, a fictional financial services firm that must achieve compliance audit by the end of the quarter. Unfortunately, not only is Greencrest failing its audit, but to make matters worse, the firm's credit card table is suddenly hacked, compromising tens of thousands of sensitive customer records. We developed a website for the webisode series: 

- The Graphic Novella: Spear-Phishing is a short graphic novella in comic book style about a large defense contractor that falls victim to a spear-phishing attack from an Eastern European group. In a “ripped from the headlines” approach, the story captures the real-life drama between the perpetrators and the victims as they race against time and each other to achieve their own desired outcome. We developed a website for the graphic novella:

- The Contest: The Greencrest Financial Complaint Contest invited viewers of the webisodes to create fictitious “complaint” videos under two minutes in length, telling the company how the breach affected them. We had 20+ responses, chose three winners, and their submissions can be seen on “The UNProtected” website.  Winners were chosen by a panel of judges from the analyst community and winners received American Express gift cards.

Microsites we created for “The UNProtected” webisode series and graphic novella included sections dedicated to the company’s security solutions as calls-to-action, including:
o Trial-version software downloads
o Data sheets
o Online demos
o Ability to request copies of the DVD and graphic novella 

Channels Used :
To promote “The UNProtected” webisode series and graphic novella, we used:
o Facebook
o Flickr
o YouTube
o Twitter
o LinkedIn

To promote the contest we used:
o Facebook
o Twitter
o YouTube
o Video contest sites,, VidOpp and

We also promoted the campaign at trade shows, conferences, in banner ads, and on the AppSec website. And we used traditional public relations and email blasts to spread word about the campaign.

Measurement Tactics :
Google Analytics, DVD and comic book requests, email stats and sales opportunity tracked through SalesForce.

How the Audience Helped Spread the Message:
To help disseminate the campaign:

- We asked our employees internally to frequently tweet about the campaign and followers on Twitter to re-tweet our messages.

- Two emails to our database from Thom VanHorn, VP Marketing, about the campaign.

- Mentions on various contest sites.

- Blog posts from industry thought leaders.


- More than 4,000 visitors and 12,000 page views for “The UNProtected” website.

- More than 500 DVDs and 3,000 graphic novella copies disseminated; requests from major corporations to use the DVD during their internal training sessions.

- Requests to play our video during lunch sessions at industry conferences.

- An honorary nominee for a Webby Award. 

- 45% of visitors to "The UNProtected" microsite became qualified leads when touched with other marketing programs.  

- 12.5% of visitors to the contest page became qualified leads when touched with other marketing programs.

How Results Changed Over Time:
Our results were consistent throughout the campaign as we released the videos over time, released the graphic novella toward the tail end, as well as had the contest toward the tail end of the campaign. Although we are not currently getting as much activity as we initially did from September through March of last year, we still promote "The UNProtected" on the homepage of our website. When we did two email blasts to our database promoting the webisode series and graphic novella, we saw significant spikes.

Biggest Lesson:
The biggest lesson we learned was that these efforts really helped us stand out in a crowded space and helped drive measurable traffic and leads to our website. We were surprised by how many incredibly talented people submitted videos for our contest, many of which clearly took a significant amount of time and effort to produce.

Things we would do differently next time:
o Launch the contest sooner and have the open period last longer
o Develop a dedicated Facebook page for the contest
o Launch the campaign around a software release to increase buzz