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Microsoft The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies

How one Discord community fixed Microsoft’s Xbox sales problem


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 6, 2022 | 7 min read

Lowkey Discord won at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising APAC 2022 in the Game-Changing Advertising Technology category for its affiliate link program with Microsoft. Here, we examine the secrets behind the campaign’s success.

Xbox console

Lowkey Discord helped Microsoft drive online sales of its XBOX Series X / Billy Freeman

Lowkey Discord is an engaged subscription-based community of some 2,600 avid gamers and sneakerheads in Australia based on the communications platform Discord. The group’s leader – who had developed technology to find in-demand products that members could then buy at the retail price – teamed with Rakuten and Microsoft to help drive sales of the Xbox Series X.

The brief

Supply chain and logistics problems were creating product shortages for Microsoft. In particular, demand for the tech titan’s Xbox Series X far outpaced supply.

As a result of shortages, fans had to turn to resellers on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, where they were often forced to spend nearly double the original retail price for the product, creating a poor shopping experience. Microsoft wanted to improve the shopping experience while boosting sales of its Xbox Series X through its own ecommerce site.

It approached Rakuten Advertising for help.

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The idea

Although Lowkey Discord’s performance model is essentially based on simple affiliate links, the method by which information is gathered and communicated to the community is entirely unique among publishers. Lowkey Discord’s leader, Jordan Caruccio, developed bots that trawl the net to identify Australian retail websites with a stock of rare, in-demand sneakers, gaming consoles and other products. When the stock of a given item is found, Lowkey Discord members receive an affiliate link to the product page which they can then check out. The information is also amplified across social media, incentivizing more users to pay to join Lowkey Discord, where they can access affiliate links for the products they want.

Last year, when Lowkey Discord became a publishing partner in the Rakuten Advertising affiliate network, Rakuten immediately recommended the community to its client Microsoft. It knew that the Discord community could create value for the tech giant by helping to drive web traffic and online sales of the Xbox Series X via affiliate links.

Rakuten Advertising’s objectives included directing 10,000 customers to the Xbox Series X official product page on the Microsoft online store, generating $225,000 in gross sales for the product via the Microsoft site, and also positioning Lowkey Discord as a first-of-its-kind publisher in Australia that alerts members when the Xbox consoles they want are made available.

Recommending Lowkey Discord as an affiliate partner for Microsoft did not come without its fair share of challenges for the Rakuten Advertising team. Most importantly, the small community at Lowkey Discord had no rapport with Microsoft. At the same time, there was concern that Lowkey Discord’s model could be seen as controversial for its scalping-like approach.

However, Rakuten was ultimately able to convince Microsoft that Lowkey Discord would not only be able to create a better user experience for shoppers but would also help drive website traffic and generate sales. Plus, the community would enable Microsoft to target its highest-value audiences: avid gamers and brand-loyal fans.

The results

The program proved to be a huge success.

The initiative drove 11,047 clicks to the Microsoft Xbox Series X product page – a figure 10% higher than the predetermined target. It also helped Microsoft achieve $625,000 in gross sales for the console via the company’s online store – 275% higher than the original goal. In total, the program won 834 total orders for the Xbox Series X from Microsoft’s online store.

Lowkey Discord reaped the rewards, too. By teaming up with one of the biggest brand names in the world, it’s raised its own profile and positioned itself as an attractive potential partner to brands in the future.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising APAC 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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