I'm going to break one of my long-time rules and mention the December Holiday Season before Halloween has passed. You might cringe when you see the holiday commercial machine gearing up in October, but apparently the vendors are only responding to a proven high level of early consumer interest. Now according to YouTube the site has become another of the annual destinations for buyers to research for their upcoming purchases. So if your brand is not there then you may not make it onto Santa's list for all the good girls and boys. This is not a new phenomenon; Mediapost reported that product videos play a key role in consumer purchase decisions, citing a 9x increase in retail video views at the start of the 2011 Holiday Season - so let's go bold and double that at least for 2013.
So who's making the most of the eager Holiday present searches? YouTube have released a series of case studies that give us some insight into the video marketing and advertising strategies of three brands in the run up to the holiday season of 2012.
Snapfish: Testing TrueView To Get The Campaign Right
Snapfish, a San Francisco based online photo processing company, wanted to generate more sales for their services so their Interactive Web Marketing Manager, Hugh Burnham, turned to TrueView advertising in a bid to drive conversions while keeping the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) as low as possible.
The Snapfish marketing team wanted to leverage the advertising opportunity presented by YouTube around 2012's Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend by adapting their creative content after a test campaign earlier in the year. This approach was so successful it drove more traffic for them than an accompanying PPC campaign. How? Starting back in February 2012, Snapfish began a small, low key TrueView test and used the feedback from this to determine their future strategy. They noted that there was a huge drop off rate in views after 12 seconds with viewers abandoning the ad to watch the video it featured on.
The next ads, released on the weekend after Thanksgiving 2012, were 8 seconds in length and featured a strong Call to Action promoting a coupon code at the end. They launched both using TrueView in-stream, paying only when viewers chose to watch their ads. Comparing their November results with February, the team saw 14% less spend compared to PPC and they also cut the Cost Per View (CPV) by 30%. They credit this with taking the time to understand how they could improve on the previous campaign by listening to the data. The team plan to supplement their future TrueView advertising on YouTube by creating a series of 'how-to' videos on their channel.
Cardstore: YouTube Masthead Ad Increased Site Traffic Threefold
American Greetings Corporation’s Cardstore allows you to digitally create perfectly personalized greeting cards from all from your favorite brands and the most popular artists. The company wanted to increase brand visibility during the highly competitive holiday season and take a different approach to previous campaigns. They used a portion of their marketing budget for their first ever YouTube masthead advert. They wanted to appeal to the 24-44 year old female demographic who regularly visited YouTube and used feedback from other rich content marketing pushes to determine what creative angle to take. They went for a two panelled masthead design that allowed the viewer to switch between a video ad and a carousel of Cardstore products. The company were able to turn the campaign around in 48 hours with the help of the Google team.
The masthead banner drove a huge amount of impressions to the company site, as well as an upload in brand recognition that came with the association with Youtube. They also benefitted from improved visitor taffic, brand searches and sales conversions following the masthead campaign. The result was 3 x more visitors to the Cardstore site in November 2012 compared to the previous year with Masthead driven visits accounting for 80% of traffic. The company also found saw a 28% increase in brand led searches during the week that the masthead ad ran.
Balsam Hill: Remarketing Ads Increased Conversions by 10 x
Balsam Hill is an online retailer that sells high-quality, realistic, artificial Christmas trees, costing anywhere between $100 and $20,000 ($20,000!). They wanted to raise their profile and their sales so they launched a YouTube TrueView remarketing campaign for the first time in 2012, and saw a higher rate of conversion that any of their other previous video marketing campaigns. And not a single forest was destroyed in the process.
The Californian company selected remarketing as their ad format of choice because they wanted to be able to identify users who had visited their website but hadn't made a purchase. They wanted to keep the relationship going and re-engage potential customers so that they made a return visit to the website to buy one of their Christmas trees. Mirroring the TrueView ad format, they optimized the first 5 seconds of their videos and also tested a variety of ad formats before deciding to use their top video ads based on Click Through Rate, View Through Rates and conversions. This testing stage proved invaluable in keeping the campaign on track and the results came in very quickly. The company added extra budget and extended the remarketing campaign past its initial 30 day run as conversions began to increase.
They achieved a similar level of CPA as they had with organic search with less spend than a display ad campaign. It drove ten times as many sales conversions with a 87% lower CPC than their 2011 campaign. Balsam Hill plan to continue their YouTube marketing strategy in the run up to this holiday season.
So come on guys, get the Elves in the marketing department to jump on this digital sledge and give all the good girls and boys a compelling video to watch before they buy. Come to think of it there must be a Santa's Digital List of whose been good - I'd better add my name before it's the end of October!