With 174 million U.S. Internet users watching online video content in March and engaging in more than 5.7 billion viewing sessions during the month (comScore data), it is interesting to assess how companies are actually deploying online video ads to promote their brands. I took inventory of some of the specific usages by well-known brands during the past year and here are some examples of what I discovered:
It seems like everybody remembers the Bud Light “Dude” broadcast TV campaign: Based off of its success, Anheuser-Busch decided to create a Bud Light “Dude” microsite where they could extend the life of the campaign. They crowdsourced four videos based off the original concept, a fairly easy way to allow the campaign to live on via the dedicated microsite.
Similarly, Sour Patch Kids candy brand added a series of six videos to its Facebook site. Each video shows a different approach to the “Sour then Sweet” message, including one video which first shows the “sour” scene, and then asks Facebook friends to provide potential endings (the “sweet” scene). After a while, Sour Patch Kids revealed the “real” ending produced by the video’s creator.
From a multiple-use standpoint, Moe’s Southwest Grill placed two videos on several social media outlets to create buzz around one of its product offerings, “Queso.” Moe’s used these videos to populate its ilovequeso.com microsite, as well as its YouTube channel and Facebook page. The company then asked consumers to create their own videos explaining why they love Queso and upload them to the site.
At a larger scale, GE’s heavily promoted “Ecomagination” campaign included four crowdsourced videos that were placed on dedicated YouTube Ecomagination pages, extending the creative choices available for viewing and capitalizing on the unique ideas that were developed by the creators.
In additional to more “traditional” ads, Anheuser-Busch has long been lauded for addressing the importance of having designated drivers through a very well-executed TV ad campaign. In a successful effort to extend this campaign’s life through online video, the company developed an online video ad and placed the finished product as a persistent video ad unit on its Designated Drivers Facebook page. This is bringing new life and visual interest to that page and to the overall campaign.
Two other top brands have used online video ads as research tools, producing video examples of various brand positioning statements. These unfinished commercials, referred to as video storyboards, are then put into online research to assist the brand in determining the most effective communication style for the brand’s positioning.
On the frequency front, a national shipping company developed nine entertaining videos for a B to B play with its small and medium sized businesses. It ultimately emailed out a new video each month to its clients to entertain and educate; culminating with all nine videos displayed on the company’s YouTube page.
Finally, Intel Corporation deployed crowdsourcing to develop more than fifty 30- and 60-second video ads to build awareness and excitement surrounding the launch of its ultra-thin laptops. Intel and its PR firm, Ogilvy PR, narrowed these 50 down to two videos and posted their selections to their consumer-facing blog, Inside Scoop, where it sought votes on a winner; Intel also leveraged the two ‘final’ video ads on its Facebook (317,000 followers) and Twitter (39,000) properties, along with its YouTube channel.
The campaign generated approximately 500 comments on ‘Inside Scoop’ and Twitter during a two-day contest between the two finalist videos. There were 244 Tweets that referenced @Intel or #intelthin and 255 comments on Inside Scoop. Comments were very engaging, as followers often explained why the video they liked was better than the other; many users were very detailed, especially in the blog comments.
Intel also saw 102 users share the blog on twitter via the share button on Inside Scoop and 69 “likes” on Facebook.
Intel PR manager Connie Brown noted the changing purchase landscape, and how this pushed Intel to a higher level of activity where social media and corporate communication converge.
“In the past, we sold our computers primarily to IT departments in major corporations. Just communicate that you’ve made it faster and more reliable and you had a sale. But today, the vast majority of computers are purchased by consumers,” Brown said. “At its best, social media-driven applications open new artistic, thoughtful, and compelling approaches to communicate with our customers, using their work and their feelings on our products as a strong message that is relevant in today’s times.”
This is an exciting time for brands, agencies, and just about anyone else involved in the online video production and advertising business. While the production side of the equation has rightly gotten a lot of attention, it’s equally interesting to see how and where brands are actually deploying the finished products.
There are more video avenues than ever to consider and even more that are yet to be invented, so I will check back from time-to-time with updates from the front lines.