Digital Marketing Redux   //   May 23, 2024

Hostage Tape is projecting $40M in revenue for 2024 while putting all of its paid media into Meta

Despite the emergence of new ad platforms, mouth tape brand Hostage Tape remains bullish with Meta. 

The brand, which promotes better sleep through products like mouth tapes, said that it invests the majority of its paid media on Meta platforms like Facebook. Hostage Tape leverages its partnerships with talk shows like “Live with Kelly and Mark” as well as podcasts like “The Joe Rogan Experience” in these ads, where it uses clips of the hosts talking about the brand. Thanks to its strategy, the brand has managed to generate 30 million impressions a month through Facebook and Instagram. 

Over the past couple of years, Meta has fallen out of favor for many young brands after Apple’s iOS 14 updates impacted marketers’ ability to serve targeted ads. But more recently, brands like beauty brand Prose and clothing company Natural Life told Modern Retail in February that Meta’s advertising platform has started to stabilize and customer acquisition costs have begun to go down.

In Hostage Tape’s case, founder Alex Neist said that the company aims to maintain a $2.5-$3 return per dollar spent on ads, adding that “all my paid media is Facebook.”

“Facebook is still hands down the best place to put your money in and get your money out,” Neist said. “It’s the most consistent, the most reliable — and it’s the largest.”

Hostage Tape was founded two years ago and currently offers five SKUs, including mouth tapes, nose strips and nasal sticks. Its products are available for purchase on the company website and on Amazon. Hostage Tape’s products were initially geared towards middle-aged men, a demographic that is particularly prone to mouth breathing while sleeping. Its mouth tapes were made to be suitable for men with facial hair or stubble.  

Neist mainly credits its Meta ad strategy for Hostage Tape’s growth. The company generated revenue of about $14 million in 2023, up from $900,000 in 2022. This year, Hostage Tape is poised to produce about $40 million in revenue. The company is completely self-funded. 

Due to the company’s target customer base, Hostage Tape has focused its partnerships on prominent figures and organizations in the fitness and health space. In April, Hostage Tape was named the official sleep aid partner of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). The company has also tapped podcast host Joe Rogan and talk show host Mark Consuelos to promote the brand. 

“I like to only work with people who genuinely use the product and love the product,” Neist said. He added that it designates a certain CPM for its partners depending on how many impressions they produce a month. 

These partnerships also tie back to Hostage Tape’s Meta strategy. The company frequently uses video clips from its partners for its ads and pushes ads to its landing page. Most of its partnerships are paid, and the company frequently sends products to these influential figures. In return for its Meta investment, Hostage Tape has been getting almost a million visitors a month on its site.  

Unlike other ad platforms, Meta offers a variety of formats that competitors might not have, said Daniel McCarthy, assistant professor of marketing at Emory University. This includes a greater variety of videos, carousels and interactive posts, for example. Some formats might resonate more with specific demographics, which makes Meta an effective channel for some brands.  

However, one of the main criticisms brands often have about Meta advertising is the cost. The investment in Meta ads can be especially hard to justify after Apple’s iOS privacy update has hurt the platform’s ability to target specific demographics, McCarthy said. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Facebook’s CPM was 26% higher than 2020, according to data from Tinuiti. But, in 2023, Facebook’s fourth-quarter CPMs declined 27% from 2021.

“The relative inability to measure and to attribute has certainly degraded [Meta’s] ability to generate the same sort of return on investment that they had previously,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s an ineffective channel.”

Neist said initially spent seven figures a month on Meta ads when it first launched the business. Once the company began to gain more repeat customers, the brand scaled back its ad spending to six figures a month. Hostage Tape currently has a 40% repeat purchase rate, and many of its repeat customers buy three months’ worth of products.     

“I wanted to see how far I could push it,” Neist said. “I wanted to see how far I can continue to spend and get dollars back.” At this stage of the business, Neist said that he is now focused on running marketing more efficiently. Just last year, Hostage Tape hired a new head of growth to manage this side of the business. 

In the near future, the company is eyeing big-box distribution channels. “Our next priority right now is to get into big-box retail. So we’re eyeing a Walmart launch for 2025,” Neist said.