An Intro to Wish's Gamification & eCommerce Facebook Ad Strategy

Brought to you by WBR Insights

Paid advertising on Facebook is a great way to get your products and services in front of the right people at the right time. Facebook boasts 1.49 billion active daily users, with 500,000 new users joining the site every day - six new profile creations per second.

The average Facebook user spends 20 minutes a day on the site and 30 percent of internet users log on several times in that period. On mobile, Facebook browsing takes up 22 percent of the total time Americans spend online - double the time spent on Google and YouTube combined. While some say Facebook is declining in popularity among the younger generation who have been eschewing the platform in favor of Instagram and Snapchat, the blue behemoth of social media clearly still remains a powerful digital force.

One brand which has been making waves on Facebook, thanks to its often bizarre advertising, is ecommerce platform, Wish.


You would be forgiven for being unfamiliar with Wish. They seem to have arrived from almost nowhere and rapidly risen to become a regular sight on Facebook.

The company was founded by former Google engineer, Peter Szulczewski way back in 2010. He wanted to make online shopping a more fun and surprising experience for consumers. Wish stocks no products itself but rather acts as a facilitator between buyers and sellers - much like eBay.

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Since its inception, the platform has grown to pull in $1.9 billion in sales as of 2018. It was valued at $8.7 billion in its latest round of funding. So, what is it that's helped this young upstart grow to become 2018's most downloaded app and the US's third biggest ecommerce platform after Amazon and Alibaba?

The first thing you'll notice when shopping on Wish is just how cheap everything is. It seems the vast majority of products are less than ten dollars and there is no shortage of selection. When you sign up, you are immediately presented with a list of the day's deals and informed of a new-user-only ten percent discount.

You can also collect stamps for logging in each day and, once you've collected seven of them, you earn a massive 50 percent discount. Gamification elements such as this run through Wish like jelly through a peanut butter sandwich. When you are viewing a product, you'll be presented with a timer which, if you add the product to your cart before it reaches zero, you get it for an even lower price. Once the product is in the cart, you get 60 minutes to complete the checkout process before the price goes up again. There's also the "Blitz Buy" wheel, which you spin to reveal another set of discounted items.

All this serves to make shopping on Wish quite an intense and frenetic experience and a very different one from the more laid-back browsing we're used to from Amazon. However, Wish has recently become famous (or maybe notorious) for its rather strange Facebook adverts.


If you're a Facebook user, you will have likely had an ad for Wish pop up in your news feed. These ads often feature some of the strangest products imaginable, including random bags of tablets, severed fingers, prosthetic tongues, and many items of a sexual nature.

Wish spends approximately $100 million per year on Facebook advertising alone, but many are left scratching their heads as to why the products on display in the ads are so bizarre. After all, Wish sells a plethora of "normal" items, such as clothes and sunglasses, so why aren't products with more mainstream appeal put front and center?

"If Wish targeted ads are a window to your soul, then my soul is an absolute nightmare," said food editor Alice Neville.

However, it seems likely that Wish is actually abandoning traditional ad targeting in favor of a viral marketing strategy. So, if like Neville, you were worried that the Wish ads you were being exposed to were some reflection of your online activity, you need worry no longer. The idea is that, by making its Facebook ads so bizarre, Wish will encourage people to screenshot them, share them with their friends, and promote conversations around the brand.

Freaky and random posts on Facebook generate the most clicks and the largest amount of engagement. If the brand's numbers are anything to go by,this strategy seems to be paying off for Wish.

Final Thoughts

Wish is a strange beast in the ecommerce world, of that there is little doubt. However, with its innovative use of gamification and Facebook viral marketing, the brand has rapidly become one of the dominant players in the game.

You can hear Wish's Postmaster, Udeme Ukutt speak at eTail Palm Springs 2020, being held in February, at the JW Marriott, Palm Springs, CA.

Please download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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