The Sun-Herald City2Surf

How an audience-first digital strategy generated a 378% increase in online conversions


Increase in conversions
from paid media


Decrease in


Decrease in
cost-per-click (CPC)


Increase in click-through-rate (CTR)


The Challenge

City2Surf is the world’s largest fun run, attracting over 85,000 participants every year from across the world. Over the last 50 years, the City2Surf has transformed from a humble, local 14km road race from Sydney’s CBD to Bondi beach, to one of the most loved community events. The event is widely recognised as a ‘bucket-list’ item for serious runners and adventure lovers around the world, with accolades as being listed by The Telegraph as one of the ‘16 Great Running Races Around the World’ and Runner’s World listing the event in their ‘20 Races To Do Before You Die’.

Acknowledged as the Largest Fun Run in The World, the City2Surf is also one of the oldest fun runs in Australia. With their 50-year anniversary approaching in 2020, City2Surf tasked Pais Digital with growing ticket sales, re-engage past participants, and improving first-time participation whilst reducing their overall cost-per-sale.

Delivering 378% growth in online conversions and a 22% decrease in cost-per-acquisition (CPA) from their digital strategy, and a sold-out event in 2019, learn how Pais Digital continues to drive digital ROI for City2Surf.

Key problems

Encourage first-time participation in a saturated market.

Identify key motivational factors to re-engage past participants

Deliver year-on-year growth in online ticket sales

Reduce cost-per-sale (CPS) to increase paid digital ROI.

Our Strategy

City2Surf participants range from walkers, fun runners, to elite athletes. To appeal to the different types of participants, a multifaceted creative strategy was implemented with integrated content plans developed to target the various runner personas.

Frequent ad testing was conducted to determine the best performing ad creatives; testing messaging, ad formats, and ad frequency across each stage within the user journey as well as their specific audience persona.

Remarketing funnels were restructured and new audiences identified to help scale performance. This included going beyond just website visitors and past entrants, but also leveraging their sister events portfolio to cross-sell and drive first-time participation with hyper-targeted creative.

We created and executed a true audience-first digital strategy that achieved the necessary cut-through to make sure we targeted the right audiences, at the right time, with the right message.

Developed specific content plans for each runner persona to re-engage past participants

Identified new audience segments by leveraging first-party data sources to cross-sell and motivate first-time runners

Completely restructured remarketing campaigns to target high-intent audiences who were more likely to purchase

Aligned budget allocations to specific campaign phases that delivered higher conversion rates

“Pais Digital has become a valuable extension of our marketing team over the past three years and has consistently achieved excellent results across the brands they manage. Each year they continue to identify growth opportunities, gaining valuable insights, and providing recommendations that have allowed them to build towards the following year to ensure we are achieving the growth the business demands.”

Loren Davis – Sports Marketing Manager


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