Rover Analysis

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Rover Analysis - Marketing

While there are some indications that Rover organizes by product line for internal purposes, ultimately their primary product is the app itself. Rather, the customer-facing targeting is focused on geographic areas (usually cities). While

PRODUCT LINE ORGANIZATION

  • Until very recently, Rover had only two product "lines" to speak of, dog sitting and dog walking.
  • Starting April 25, 2019, they expanded their services to include cat-sitting following a three-month beta period (December 2018 to February 2019).
  • The dog-care lines are expected to reach nearly $500 million in bookings in 2019, while the cat care line achieved $4 million in bookings and deployed 15,000 cat-sitters (compared to Rover's 300,000+ dog sitters and walkers) just during its beta period, suggesting that it will be a significant, if smaller, line of business.
  • In late 2018, Rover also launched a new service called Rover Now in select cities, including San Diego, Boston, Austin, and San Fransisco. This service simplifies the process of finding a dog-walker and can usually provide one within the hour.
  • However, given that Rover ultimately provides all of these services through a single app, it's not entirely certain to what extent the product lines are or will be a focus of the company's internal organization going forward.

GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING

Rover's strategy targets geographic areas more than product lines:

MARKETING

Rover makes extensive use of content marketing through their blogs and social media channels, indicating at least a strong multi-channel marketing strategy:
  • Their blog has an extensive number of articles on a wide array of pet topics (primarily, though not completely, focused on dogs) which is updated often (though due to a lack of article dates, it is uncertain exactly how often).
  • The site also provides a Q&A Community page which enables pet owners to ask and answer questions, generating still more searchable content for the company page.
  • Rover has also released at least two major research reports, "The Real Power of Dog Love," which they published to coincide with Valentine's Day, and the "Dog People Walking Report" to coincide with the service's launch in New York City in March 2018.
  • Their Facebook page, which updates with articles from the main website every few days, has nearly 925,000 followers and 932,000 likes.
  • Their Instagram and Pinterest accounts are also popular, with the former having 139,000 followers and the latter seeing 1.9 million monthly visitors.
  • Rover's Twitter page, which largely mirrors their Facebook page, is far less popular, with only 16,600 followers despite 42,000 tweets.

Despite a long-standing social media and online presence, it wasn't until recently that Rover began advertising through conventional channels.


However, while Rover's marketing strategy certainly falls within the definition of a multichannel strategy, we find no evidence of an omnichannel strategy in which the customer finds a "completely consistent, unified experience at every touch point."
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Rover Analysis - Priorities

Based on their actions over the past two years, Rover's primary business priorities seem to be using the immense amount of investment capital that they have raised to expand their reach via a combination of opening new services and new markets and actively acquiring competitors in desired markets.

MARKET EXPANSION

Rover is extensively focused on geographic expansion in their services:


ACQUISITIONS, MERGERS, & PARTNERSHIPS

Acquisition has become one of Rover's primary strategies in expanding its reach, with several notable examples in just the past two years:


Additionally, Rover has developed some key partnerships:

  • In October 2017, Rover partnered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) to provide Rover's network of sitters and walkers to those on the AKC Marketplace.
  • Other partners include Animal Haven, Can Do Canines, and Dogs for the Deaf, among many others.

FOCUS ON MARKET SHARE

  • In 2019, Rover is expected to reach just under $500 million in bookings, up from $375 million in 2018.
  • However, Rover's public posts, articles, and interviews do not directly indicate that market share is a primary driver, and as noted above, market reach seems to be a more critical priority.

FOCUS ON COMPETITORS

  • While Rover still has competitors, even those listed alongside it on "best" or "top" pet-sitting service lists don't provide a truly comparable service (e.g., the app).
  • Rover's public posts, articles, and interviews do not indicate any particular attention focused on their competitors.

OTHER FINDINGS

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Part
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Rover Analysis - Outside Creative Agencies

There is evidence that Rovers hires and/or sends work to outside creative/digital agencies. Some of the agencies it has worked with include Pereira O’Dell, Bamboo, and Jakub Kubicka. Pereira O'Dell became Rover's creative agency in April 2017 and has since created and launched two major campaigns.

Pereira O’Dell

  • Pereira O’Dell is a boutique agency with capabilities that include brand and business strategy, design and identity, social content production, creative development, digital and social media, communications strategy and media planning, integrated production, and research, analytics, & social listening.
  • Pereira O'Dell became Rover's creative agency in April 2017 and has since created and launched two major campaigns.
  • The first partnership between the two companies was in 2017 when Pereira O’Dell "created and launched a new advertising campaign: The Dog People™."
  • The campaign had a national reach and was featured across many channels, including digital, radio, out-of-home and television advertising. The campaign was Rover's first national campaign at the time.
  • There were three TV commercials titled, "5-Star Dog Sitters," "Meet the Dog People," and "When There’s Thunder, We’ve Got Cuddles." (All three commercials can be viewed here)
  • The objective of the first campaign was "to increase brand awareness and consideration among pet parents."
  • The second major campaign was titled “Walk It Out,” and featured "six dog walkers jamming out to DJ Unk’s hit song 'Walk It Out.'"
  • This second campaign aired on TV and was shared through online ads and social media channels, as well as backlit posters, billboards and turnstile placements at the Columbus Circle subway station in New York City.

Bamboo

Jakub Kubicka

  • Jakub Kubicka is a growth marketing consulting agency.
  • The agency worked with Rover on an acquisition channel testing sprint project.
  • The challenge was to "drive more sitters to the marketplace by exploring as many new paid channels as possible in 7weeks and $100K."
  • Seven channels were tested and optimized for, including Spotify, Snapchat, Taboola, Yahoo Gemini, Scott's Cheap Flight, Jobcase, and Viqtory.
  • Out of these channels, six showed "high CPAs, well-exceeding benchmarks set by staple sitter acquisition channels," with Jobcase particularly more outstanding than the others.
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Part
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Rover Analysis - Data Usage

Rover is a dog-walking and dog-sitting app that collects data from its apps and third-party data sources. They collect the data to do things as simple as finding the frequency of a sitter's bookings to more complex operations such as conducting background and identity checks. These data collection practices are discussed below.

FIRST-PARTY DATA COLLECTION

THIRD-PARTY DATA COLLECTION

  • Rover collects information through information collected via third-party data sources.
  • The information that they collect from third parties include:
    • Social media information such as the user's name, account information and friends lists, etc.
    • Other third-party information from other sources such as partners that engage in joint marketing activities, agencies that conduct background checks or verification services, and publicly available sources.
  • Access to this information, especially with the use of ads, shows that they buy user data. Some advertising and marketing technologies that they use include DoubleClick.Net, The Trade Desk (lets marketers buy all forms of online media), AdRoll (an ad retargeting platform), and Appcast (which provides predictive analytics to provide recruitment ads).
  • Platforms like DoubleClick and AdRoll lets users buy data so that they can target the right niche with ads. The fact that they use these technologies shows that they do buy third-party data.

DATA USAGE

  • For the advertising and analytics services provided by third parties, including Mixpanel, FullStory, DoubleClick, among others, they provide information about their users' use of the websites to these platforms.
  • They collect data from various sources and collect it into a data warehouse where it is visualized by Periscope, a data reporting and analytics tool.
  • They use Alooma to load data to their data warehouse. A data warehouse is a central repository of information that contains data flows from transactional systems, relational databases, and other sources which enables better analyses and decision-making.
  • Queries blend multiple datasets, including Rover's transactional MySQL databases, server logs, Zendesk data, payment providers, website clickstream data, and other sources.
  • Mixpanel collects usage statistics. FullStory is another usage measurement tool that helps the team know what the customer experience is like.
  • The data that they collect helps them find and analyze data points ranging from a sitter's frequency of booking and communication with dog owners to their past satisfaction ratings.
  • They also use the data to learn how to keep pets and sitters safe and to learn what environments lead to the most positive experiences for their pets and owners.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To look at how Rover collects and uses data, we decided to focus on their Privacy Statement. This document is an important legal information that states how websites and apps use the information that users give to them. This document provided most of what we needed, but for more of an in-depth analysis, we decided to look through the technologies that this website uses, and we looked for more ways in which they use their data other than what is said in the Privacy Statement. To back up some claims, we used some other sources such as a document by Amazon AWS and an article by Marketing Land to give some context into what we found.
Sources
Sources