The economic uncertainty combined with a shift to digital marketing has lead to more companies jumping on the interactive alternative of online video as part of their brand strategy. The core reasons for digital media's success may be explained in unique areas that cannot be covered by traditional marketing methods such as instant lead to a product, an interaction with the audience, cheaper cost, and it's unrestricted availability 24/7 at the consumer's convenience.
Without a doubt, the majority of businesses have suffered the past year taking a hit in sales that has contributed to cut backs in areas like marketing. However, and not like you haven't heard this before, it is those who continued to spend their marketing dollars that pulled through and were evident winners in the long run.
The retail industry has taken one of the nastier punches as people simply had less to spend on personal indulgences. In order to excel, someone had to come up with something that wasn't done before and that's exactly what Canadian shopping centre Vaughan Mills carried out. Instead of being discouraged by the economic situation, Vaughan Mills decided to strengthen the relationship with their customers as well as gain new ones with a new approach. With a help from our Toronto based digital agency, VMG Cinematic, Vaughan Mills parented a web series called "Style Agents" - a first for a shopping centre in Canada. The concept of the show focused on two known local fashion experts, Janette Ewen and Afiya Francisco discussing the latest fashion trends and how they apply to everyday while using clothing and accessories within the specified location.
We developed the complete online campaign for Vaughan Mills including a web TV series, custom microsite, Twitter feeds, podcast, style blogs, and a targeted YouTube strategy that build on engagement of female viewers through Facebook advertising. Vaughan Mills had a particular demographic in mind making sure the campaign reached a specific market. The idea was to reach out to places where females 18-40 would normally be found and the online world seemed to be the safest bet.
"It's a very targeted campaign. We tried to do that right from the get-go because our feeling is that too often digital and online is an non-targeted strategy: people just hope that something great will happen if they upload a video to YouTube, but we're much more about putting the science into digital marketing and viral distribution," confirms Evan Aagard, Creative Director at VMG Cinematic.
Facebook has played an important role in the campaign as 63% of Style Agent viewers have found the videos through the social media website.
"Placing ads on Facebook allowed Vaughan Mills to target females 18-40 who live near the mall. That's the best thing about Facebook," says Aagaard. "95% of Style Agent's 90,000 views have come from Canadian ISP addresses."
"This kind of target audience is easier to find online versus print where you can throw up an ad and who knows who's going to see that. Maybe a few thousand of the people you want will see it, maybe they won't. When you're signed into Facebook, you're signed in with your age, and all of your specifics, so it's an easier way to target a very niche audience."
How effective has Style Agents been?
Quantitatively speaking since the beginning of the series in May of this year, the sales at Vaughan Mills have increased by 7%. The success of Style Agents has been in the fact that it engages the viewers and highlights the vast fashion retail selection of Vaughan Mills in a soft sell, entertainment format vs. a direct sell approach - a highly successful strategy when dealing with ad savvy online audiences. The series also presents effective product placement and secondary endorsement of specific retail brands at the mall as the agents embark on their shopping missions.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to shine when other marketers are pulling back," says Jamie MacLean, marketing director for Vaughan Mills. "It stimulated a lot of activity. … We've been up [in sales] pretty consistently even in a time when flat is the new up.”
Since the launch of the first online episode of Style Agents (http://www.styleagents.ca/) in late May, there have been over 90, 000 views with an anticipated 70% viewer growth rate within the next 12 months. Style Agents is scheduled to release 3 more episodes before the end of the year with episode # 8 going live on November 6th.
About our Guest Author:
Marina Arnaout comes from a Communications background with experience in a variety of mediums ranging from TV to out-of-home advertising. She found her niche in digital media at VMG Cinematic. VMG Cinematic is a Toronto based digital media agency and media production house, whose core specialty lays in online video and branded entertainment. You can follow Marina on Twitter @vmg_cinematic or read more articles from Marina at http://vmgcinematic.com/blog/
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