In order to use Simbound you will first need to hold a valid Instructor Account. This will grant you access to the simulation management & reporting functions.
The creation of each new instructor account is subject to a quick initial evaluation. You can request your own access credentials by visiting the www.simbound.com website. Look for the request new account page. Once a new account has been approved and access granted, an email will be sent to the account with initial information on how to access and use the simulation.
Please note that further information can be asked for and should be provided in order for the request to be approved.
Simbound offers several licensing options for participants. As the instructor you will be prompted to select the licensing method fit for each new course you create. Each participant who logs in and uses the simulation will need their own user license. A common licensing method is to purchase licenses in bulk for all participants before the course starts. The user license is valid for one run of the simulation and for one participant only. Licenses can be purchased either by the instructor in advance or directly by the participant at the time of enrolment. The system will allow participants to continue enrolling even if the instructor's license balance reaches 0 or a negative number. The instructor will be asked to confirm that they will pay for any outstanding licenses consumed this way. Participants will not see how many licenses the instructor has remaining nor will they see the price at which they purchased them.
Another way of licensing a course is by using credits. If this feature is enabled, the participant will use 1 (one) credit for each action or decision they make. The instructor can also choose to allocate a starting amount of credits to each new participant enrolled in to the credit-enabled course. This will consume credits from the instructor account. The participant has the option to purchase additional credits when their initial allocation of credits runs out. You can monitor how licenses and credits are being used by going to the profile section of the instructor account and then to the 'licenses and Credits' log
Please Note: A license will be restored only if the participant is removed from the course before the first round deadline of the course. You can check for multiple enrollments of the same participant and choose to keep one of the multiple accounts. As a result of this action, the licences that were initially used due to multiple enrolments of the same individual will be immediately restored to your account.
A course is a simulation instance that has the following main components: a name, a simulation scenario, a licensing method, a timetable and enrolled participants. Each new course is assigned a unique code or id by the system which also acts as the enrollment link. The code looks something similar to this: U1P23 (not a functional code).
In order to create your first course, click on the: Create Your First Course button placed on the left side of your dashboard.
This will launch the course builder utility, a tool designed to guide you through the required steps to configure the course; you will need to enter various information about the course, the participants, select a schedule and at the end you will be provided with instructions that will allow the course participants to enrol in the course. The course requires general information such as: the name of the course, the currency of the simulation economy and the simulation scenario.
At this stage the instructor will choose whether or not to include bonuses by enabling this option. Bonuses reward participants or teams with additional advertising budget when they meet pre-defined criteria, such as making a series of decisions or achieving certain results. An example of a bonus: in the first round of the simulation, the condition for obtaining the bonus is for the participant or the team to include at least 20 keywords in an active running ad campaign.
In the set up of the Participants you can choose to have teams of participants or have participants play individually. Participants can progress individually at their own pace if you choose the Cost per Use licensing option. Without a team, participants will complete each simulation round at the press of a button once they have made all their decisions. Further licensing options allow the instructor to distribute licenses or credits to every new participant to their course. These are deducted from the instructor account balance.
The Instructor can also have the system prompt each participant to pay for their own individual user license or for additional credits. Several payment methods are provided by the system for this purpose. These include online payment by credit card, through PayPal, Stripe or directly to a bank account.
The Timetable step allows you to set up the schedule for the course and to configure the number of practice followed by real rounds with their corresponding deadlines. A practice round allows participants to make decisions and gain an understanding of the results produced by the simulation in real rounds. Any decision taken by a participant during a practice round will not be deleted once the practice round is over. This will enable the transfer of any existing decision into the real rounds.
If your course is set up using the Cost per Use licensing method then you will not have the option to enable practice rounds. Instead, participants will be able to restart a simulation round if needed. This means that the participant can go back at any time to the start of an already completed round to make new decisions and try to improve their results. Any decision made by a participant during the round will not be deleted once that round is restarted.
Additionally, you can choose whether or not to provide participants with access to a tool that can preview results for a pre-defined number of rounds. The Preview is a reduced data set of results that is available to the participant at any time during a simulation round. Participants can choose to view the Preview in order to help them decide if they need to make any adjustments to the simulation in the wake of new results.
You can also customize the course structure by deciding whether or when to display the Ads, E-mail or Community simulations from a particular round onwards. The release of each simulation section can be timed to match that of a successful delivery of lectures which are taking place periodically (e.g. on a weekly basis).
The final step is to confirm all of the course settings you have previously entered. Once the new course has been created, a unique enrolment web address (URL) will be issued. Distribute this enrolment link to the participants so that they can log on to the Simbound website and enrol in your course.
Courses can be cloned. This can save time and ensure that the exact same settings are used consistently across multiple courses. Starting from an already existing course you can choose to create an exact copy of it with the same settings: the scenario, the currency, the availability of the simulation sections, the licensing method, number of teams, practice rounds, round preview and restart options, objectives and test questions (if any). Existing participants will not be transferred to the new clone course.
When courses are no longer required, they should be archived. This will remove them from the main dashboard and over time archived courses along with their corresponding data will be erased from the system completely.
Simbound gives you several options for organizing your course. All course settings can be changed even after a course has started, the only exceptions being the scenario and the cost per use licensing method, both of which cannot be changed. It is helpful to plan a course in advance so that you don't have to make too many changes once the course is underway.
Here is what to consider when creating a course:
How much time should be allowed for the initial instruction of the participants in the simulation activity?
Simbound is an intensive learning experience, please make sure that you provide participants plenty of time to enrol and prepare before the simulation begins. Participants should be made aware of the exercise and what it involves. Send them the business case document and the weekly guides a few days before the first round of the simulation so that they have time to read them. You can also arrange an initial meeting online or in person to discuss the system and how it works.
- 2-3 days preparation time for beginners
- 1-2 hours preparation time for professionals
How many participants are expected to sign up for the course?
If you are going to have teams in your course and you already know the number of participants, you can plan the course structure by selecting the correct number of teams and the size of each team. You may also wish to assign individual participants to teams before sending out the enrolment links. This can be done by means of a spreadsheet or a list. If you choose to have participants utilize the simulation individually (no teams), you do not need to create teams. Simply select the cost per use licensing option for this.
If you expect more than 100 individuals to enrol to your course you may want to consider to invite a co-instructor to the course, someone who can help manage the participants and any questions they may have. In all cases, you should check that you have enough licences in your Instructor account before sending the enrolment link to the participants.
- 3 to 5 beginners per team
- 1 to 3 professionals per team
What is the calendar for the simulation?
You will need to choose the duration of the course and the interval between simulation rounds. Picking an optimal period depends on factors such as: the starting skill level of the participants, whether they are playing as part of a team or as individuals, the total time that is available for the simulation activity and the amount of practice that will be offered by the simulation. In most cases you should aim to allow at least one hour between each simulation round. This time will be used to interpret results and make new decisions as a team.
- At least 4 rounds should be considered for less experienced participants with one or two practice rounds.
- Professionals can play 2-6 rounds with any amount up to 10 rounds being possible.
Once the course has been created, you can start to invite people to enrol. To do this, send them the URL containing the course code that you is displayed in the final step of the course creation process. You can also log in to your instructor account and copy the enrolment link from the course's 'Settings' tab. The enrolment link can be sent to multiple participants at once by clicking on the Invite participants button found on the participants tab of your course.
Once everyone is enrolled in your new course, it's time to start the simulation. Running a simulation course is easy as the system provides ready-made scenarios which contain the simulation data and the associated instructions. Participant engagement and decisions are tracked and results and reports are automatically generated at predetermined times.
For courses where participants use credits and can progress on their own, results are presented at the request of each individual participant. The Instructor account has a number of features to help you manage your courses: Note: To access the range of course settings, click on the course name on your dashboard.
From here you can view or change the general settings of a course. These are: Course Name, Course Code, Course Currency, Preview Results option, Payment Methods, Show/Hide Simulation Sections, Adjust Traffic and Enable/Disable Bonuses. You can invite other instructors to help you manage your course from there. You can choose to send an automatic email message to already enrolled participants 24 hours after they have successfully joined the course in order to remind them to start working on the simulation. You can also force a short tutorial on each page of the simulation that the participant accesses for the first time after logging in. This will disable any other action on each page until the tutorial has been completed.
From the participants section you will manage all of the enrolled individuals and their teams. You can invite participants to the course by email and you can also remove accounts if needed. You are able to send messages to participants or entire teams from this section. The number of decisions taken by each participant or team in the simulation is displayed.
With each new course, you have the option to create 3 initial test accounts that will be automatically enrolled to the course. By hovering the mouse over a participant's name and clicking on the button that appears next to the name, you can choose to move the participant to another team or course. You can remove the test accounts at any time.
One useful feature is that you can log in as each participant, which provides full access to their account. Any action you take while logged in to a participant account will be saved, so please be careful about the choices you make.
You can add new teams or remove existing teams from the course. Please note that once you delete a participant or team it cannot be undone.
Each course includes a number of optional activities designed to increase participants' engagement with the simulation. Some of these activities can be customised. You can monitor the participants according to the following criteria:
Objectives You can add objectives for participants to complete during each new round of the simulation. Objectives are added from the Calendar. Objectives are designed to help instructors provide guidance and direction as well as to measure each participant's level of engagement with the course activity. Objectives can be changed or removed at any time. It is recommended that you do not change or remove an objective once the course has started.
Bonuses This feature is used to reward participants with extra advertising budget when they make certain decisions and achieve good results. Bonuses are usually used to encourage people to make certain decisions and improve their results. They can be turned on and off at any time from the course settings. Bonuses are a useful way to turn the simulation into a competition, but also to reward participants who perform well and follow the guidelines closely
Tests You can measure the level of understanding and learning and how this is progressing among the participants with the help of test questions. Tests are added from the Calendar. A test consists of one or more ready-made questions that will be made available during a set round and will cover a topic of knowledge. Tests can measure understanding of the performance of an ads campaign or the amount of sales of a product. Each question has 4 possible answer choices, one of which will be the correct answer. If there is more than one correct answer (e.g. two products have the same sales in a market and are therefore both 'bestsellers'), selecting one of the correct answers will validate the correct answer to the question. The answer choices presented are unique to each student or team. The answer options are compiled by the system from all the specific decisions and results of each individual or team. This means that participants cannot copy the correct answer from each other and must look at their own decisions and results to identify the correct answer to the test.
The results section contains a variety of information and reports on the current performance of the participants. You can view different visual representations and data on the number of decisions, operational and financial results achieved in each of the simulation sections: Web, Advertising, Email and Community, as well as rank the results of participants and teams over one or more rounds. You can read any comments made by participants during each round. The results of the optional Simbound quiz that participants can take from the resources section is available as well.
Additional reports are available from this page. One useful report is the Team focus report. This type of report is for both teams and individuals and can be configured to include information on the team's performance, changes in results from the previous round, the team's position in the rankings as well as detailed information on the team's operations and how their decisions should be improved. You can download a Round-by-Round snapshot of the ad simulation decisions and results. This is produced at the end of each completed round and explains how the Ad results were obtained in detail. There is also a similar Ads decisions report which lists all of the current ad decisions at the moment the report is produced. This is useful if you want to assess how a team has progressed with their decision making during several rounds. More reports are available: the results and decisions for each individual participant, a report containing all of the results for all of the teams, and a PDF report.
Manage all of your simulation courses using the Calendar page, where you can add new rounds or remove existing rounds, restart rounds or change future round dates and add activities such as new objectives and tests for each round. Please note that if you delete a round, all of the associated results for that round will be deleted. Deleting a round will also delete any existing e-mail campaign sent by the participants during that particular round. The websites, ad campaigns or communities created by the participants will continue to be available even after a round has been deleted.
This will allow you to share files or other learning resources with the participants in a variety of formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, PDF, MSWord, MSPowerPoint
As an instructor you have the option to consult various reports that present you with information on the participants' decision performance during the simulation. The reports are computed automatically by the system and can be found in the “Results” section. You can also download results data in spreadsheet format to enable further analysis.
The indicators show participants engagement in understanding and interacting with a new and complex advertising management system. The analytics collected by the Simbound system provide numerous opportunities for longitudinal studies as the level of data is deep enough to conduct relevant research.
Number of decisions made - number of times the participant has created or deleted a database entry - this could mean adding a new ad campaign, deleting a keyword or writing a new ad for split testing purposes.
Community activity - number of posts made on the Simbound communities
The metrics measure the ability to plan and execute a paid search campaign. These are basic metrics, but they are relevant when talking about advertiser performance because they encompass many processes and tactics. Below we'll explain what each metric is about and how the values can be influenced.
Impressions: The number of times an ad is shown to searchers. Important for brand awareness. Many other metrics are dependent on the number of impressions a campaign receives.
Keep in mind that not all impressions are equal in terms of brand awareness - top fold (ad positions 1 to 5) are more visible. There is also a spill-over effect from the organic search results - where brand awareness is increased when paid ad inclusions are close to or above the regular search results - this situation has a positive impact on the combined click-through rate.
Impressions determine: Brand awareness, CTR rates, organic search results
Clicks: A good indicator of purchase intent. If there are a lot of clicks and few conversions, there may be something wrong at the bottom of the purchase funnel - such as the content on the landing page or the prices of the products. In these situations, testing with different types of content is indicated.
Clicks are determined by: Ad budget, impressions, ad position - higher placed ads tend to generate more CTR
Clicks determine: mostly purchase intent indicators but also other indices such as CTR and conversion ratio.
Conversions: These are campaign objectives that have been successfully achieved by the advertiser. Most online advertising campaigns have conversions as their ultimate goal. Conversions can be: new customers, demo sign-ups, newsletter subscribers, etc.
Defining your conversion goals not only helps you measure and optimise your campaigns, it also has an impact on the cost of your advertising efforts. A successful campaign in terms of conversions will in most cases cost less than an identical campaign with fewer conversions (conversions take the form of customer engagement and are used by search engines to compare performance).
Factors that influence conversions: Available budget, quality of ad targeting, bottom of funnel elements such as landing pages
Influenced by conversions: Quality Score (an advertiser performance metric that affects advertising costs, only applies if conversion tracking is installed, in Simbound it is assumed to be installed by default), Campaign Cost, Campaign Reach, ROAS (if goals can be assigned to a specific value)
Online advertising channels are easy to track and measure for immediate financial results. The metrics below speak to the ability of learners to meet business objectives.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) Cost per acquisition defines how much it costs an advertiser to achieve a new business goal - such as a new customer, subscriber, etc. Not all visitors complete the desired action on the landing page, and with a 1 - 5% conversion rate being the benchmark for most industries, this means that most of the money spent on clicked ads is wasted. This in turn increases the cost of acquisition because the cost of clicks from all the visitors who didn't complete the intended action has to be included when calculating the cost of a new acquisition.
CPA helps to compare the performance of different advertising media and is also a metric that allows advertisers to assess and optimise marketing performance. With Simbound, Instructors can compare the CPA values of teams to assess their performance.
CPA is determined by: Average cost per click (CPC), average conversion value, conversion rate (bottom of the funnel optimisation)
CPA determines: optimisation efforts, marketing channel audit and comparison.
Return on Advertising Spend or Return on Marketing Investment is a widely used metric, but one that can be misleading for several reasons. At its most basic, it measures the value generated by marketing compared to the cost of marketing (value/cost). If the ratio is above 1, then the marketing campaign is considered successful in delivering measurable business value. If it is below 1, the campaign was unsuccessful by this criterion. In Simbound, ROAS is measured by comparing the sales margin to the total marketing budget spent, excluding any long-term value factor.
What determines ROAS: What determines ROAS: A number of factors, including the efficiency of the ad campaign settings, costs and customer response, as well as fluctuating demand and economic conditions.
ROAS determines: Perception of marketing results, which in turn leads to further action or analysis.