Viki, a streaming video service with global reach, removes the language and cultural barriers that stand between great entertainment and fans around the world. They do this by introducing ways to learn new languages while watching your favorite videos. Viewers can watch their favorite shows, discover new movies, and hear the latest celebrity news—all subtitled in more than 200 languages.

Viki’s Growth Manager, Jay Lee, joined the team 2 years ago to oversee the acquisition and retention marketing strategies for Viki’s web, mobile apps, and connected TV platforms. The AdRoll team sat down with Jay to learn more about her company, her team’s marketing strategy, and the importance of preparing a holiday marketing plan early.

ADROLL: For those who don’t know Viki, tell us more about your mission.

LEE: Viki’s mission is to break down the cultural and language barriers that currently exist in the global media landscape by building international fan engagement around popular content. People come to Viki for content, but stay for a fan-driven community that supports this passionate culture on Viki. We want to make sure that the fans can find their favorite shows then share their passion for great international entertainment by staying engaged within the Viki community.

ADROLL: Describe the strategy around ViKi’s current marketing initiatives.

LEE: It is a very exciting time for Viki now. We are aggressively expanding our content library to facilitate even bigger audience groups. The marketing team’s strategy is to better identify the right audience and nurture them with the right content so that they can be super excited and share that excitement with others. For example, one of the most popular content verticals on Viki is Korean dramas (“K-drama”). Within the U.S, we identified 4-5 different cultural groups as potential customers for K-drama. Since each group exists on different social media channels, messaging apps, and online news sites, we focus on developing a customized marketing strategy for individual groups to fine-tune our targeting & messages for more effective promotions.

ADROLL: Which AdRoll products are you currently using? What is your assessment of their impact?

LEE: AdRoll is our major lead nurturing channel for the middle and bottom of Viki’s user acquisition funnel. We’re currently running AdRoll Retargeting on web, social (Facebook and  Instagram), and native ad platforms.

A benefit of having AdRoll is that its algorithm has accumulated so much information about our users’ behaviors that, combined with AdRoll’s knowledge of external ad networks, it’s able to runs highly targeted ad campaigns. The AdRoll algorithm knows who to target, when to target them, and where to target them with our marketing messages. Overall, it really helps decrease our customer acquisition cost (CAC).

ADROLL: How did you come to partner with AdRoll? What were you looking to improve?

LEE: When I first joined Viki, I saw Viki attracting a lot of top-of-the funnel traffic, but wasn’t really nurturing them to become paid subscribers. To remedy this, we started using several retargeting platforms including AdRoll and AdWords in-app engagement campaigns. Over time, we found that the users from AdRoll’s campaigns not only have the lowest cost per acquisition, but also show the healthiest lifetime value per subscription.

AdRoll: What are your current marketing goals?

LEE: We have two major goals for making both short-term and long-term business impact. Maximizing return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) is, of course, the most important KPI. But we also try to make sure that we keep supplying quality traffic to the top of the funnel for long-term business impact. That’s why we’re running a lot of fun marketing campaigns that are not directly related to subscription conversion. For example, we allocate a good amount of marketing budget to video ads to distribute fun video clips and quizzes. They may not always convert subscribers, but they’re good at attracting new users to the Viki’s site. From here, the next step is for other middle-of-the- funnel channels, including AdRoll Retargeting, to nurture and convert subscribers at a lower CAC.

ADROLL: What are the biggest challenges you face in executing on a brand marketing or performance marketing strategy?

LEE: Tracking and analytics. To be more specific, we strive to track the impact of multi-touchmarketing channels and give credit to each channel in a fair way. The user acquisition flow has become so complex that it has become necessary to understand which of our marketing channels interact with new users as a first, middle, or last touch.

We are slowly adopting the data-driven, multi-touch attribution model for better budget allocation, but still need more data to be transparently communicated from each ad channel to our analytics platform.

ADROLL: How important is holiday marketing to your business?

LEE: Historically we see content watch-time growing during the holiday season—so it’s one of the most important times of the year. Our general strategy is to aggressively acquire new users during the summer and shift our focus to nurturing existing users during the peak holiday season. This general rule has worked well since our subscription recurs monthly—so it’s always better to acquire users early and it helps avoid the crowded and intense advertising competition that exists towards the end of the year.

ADROLL: What new marketing tools do you plan to test before the holiday season?

LEE: We‘ve seen very impressive growth on our mobile app installs over the past few years. To better communicate with our users, we’re in the process of revamping our push notification strategy as well as our in-app messaging. We are fine-tuning our messages based on user behavior, the type of content they watch, and other demographic information to better communicate the value of Viki and its subscription. We expect this channel to be one of the most important middle and bottom of the funnel strategies to generate in-app subscription—complementing our AdRoll Retargeting efforts.

ADROLL: Who are your favorite partners in your marketing stack?

LEE: Wow, it’s hard to pick a favorite kid! When I first designed the media mix for our user acquisition funnel, I categorized each channel to serve one of the three major marketing objectives: brand awareness, lead nurturing and acquisition and churn management. For example, we use YouTube and social video to promote any on-air titles as a pre-buzz tactic that introduces the content and Viki brand to new users. During the on-air period, we focus on AdRoll or other middle-funnel channels to directly target existing leads and convince them to become subscribers. After the show ends, email and mobile push-messages play the major role of keeping users engaged and staying on the subscription.

To learn more about the acquisition funnel, take a look at our guide to Full-Funnel Marketing. And if you’d like to see how other companies are using AdRoll to create effective marketing strategies, take a look here.


Jay currently leads the Growth Marketing at Viki, where she oversees the acquisition and retention marketing strategies including SEM, Youtube, social, and email/CRM. She has been previously responsible for marketing strategies & business incubation for video streaming start-ups. Jay is passionate about media & entertainment (E&M), new technologies, and fan-centric marketing. She also enjoys outdoor activities including surfing and snowboarding.