In the first installment of this three-part series, we went behind the scenes of one of our most successful ecommerce engagements. In part two, we’re gazing skywards—all the way to the top of the funnel—to explore the inner workings of an extraordinarily effective brand awareness play.
Find out how this innovative, Google-centered campaign used video to generate interest, deployed paid search to convert it, and redefined possibilities in the process.
How to drive business outcomes at scale 🚗
As one of the world’s most significant Performance Marketing Agencies (and the originator of Enterprise-to-Local thinking), we bake scalability into pretty much everything we do. But every impressive achievement starts with a small first step, and we begin by applying four key criteria to fully understand each client’s:
- goals and objectives;
- business and priorities;
- key audiences and opportunity size;
- and budget, specifically how to make every dollar work harder.
These four pillars form the groundwork of strategies that allocate dollars to the appropriate media platforms and products to drive the greatest possible ROI. Like all effective frameworks, its core principle is simple.
As we approached this new campaign with a longstanding client—one of the world’s top automotive brands—we knew that Google products had traditionally accounted for 80-90% of its total media spend, spanning across awareness, consideration, and purchase intent campaigns. But our client’s goals had evolved to place a much heavier focus on new customer acquisition.
In response, we made the case to incorporate products like online video (OLV), connected TV (CTV), YouTube Audio, and YouTube Masthead in order to scale media investment and “feed the funnel”. This approach allowed us to balance media allocations to drive long-term, omnichannel growth instead of relying solely on SEM for immediate results but shorter-term gains.
Picking out the perfect products 🛒
Our paid media experts could deploy every media tactic imaginable—Google or otherwise—but quality trumps quantity every time. To determine the right mix in this case, we assessed criteria including:
- market size/opportunity, especially in regard to reach;
- unique reach by product/platform to reduce overlap;
- costs/efficiency benchmarks;
- audience targeting capabilities and segmentation;
- and, most importantly, measurement and reporting capabilities to validate the impact on a holistic media program.
As a Google Premier Partner, we’re involved in new product BETAs as well as ongoing testing and consultation, which keeps us at the forefront of new developments. For example, we traditionally leveraged TrueView for reach campaigns but took advantage of new Video Reach and Ad Sequencing functionality in order to boost efficiency, engagement, and automation in our awareness media efforts. We immediately found that it drove efficient brand lift and reduced cost per lifted user.
Automation: Part art, part science 🎨
Being a savvy adopter of automation tech (both in partnership with Google and internally), we know exactly how automation can drive media success and steer almost every client’s business goals forward—as long as it has the guiding hand of one of our expert marketers. In fact, Google has noted that this particular engagement excels against the Google optimization score metric, with a broad mix of Google products, extensions, and automated smart bidding capabilities across media efforts driving best-in-class activations.
Our ongoing balance of art and science is found throughout our work. In a purely mathematical sense, our OLV and CTV activations focused on shaping frequency with efficient brand lift/reach/cheaper cost per lifted user, as well as secondary metrics such as View Rates/CPMs.
But longer-term success is where marketing becomes an art form. That’s why we monitor Google brand lift studies and search lift studies to understand creative fatigue, and use those findings to inform the ever-evolving strategy.
Groundbreaking success in the real world
After the chaos of 2020, our automotive client faced unprecedented challenges heading into 2021 to support its 2,000+ retail store locations across the US. Despite strong growth at the peak of the pandemic as a result of consumer behavior shifts and consistent marketing efforts throughout the year, all linear TV advertising was withdrawn from market to trim the budget.
DAC was tasked with building an omnichannel strategy—including OLV and CTV—to mitigate the loss of linear TV advertising. The goal was firm but fair: maintain efficient reach and brand health on the reduced marketing budget while ensuring bottom-of-the-funnel leads and sales.
We focused efforts to drive efficient reach by choosing Google products and platforms that would target the millennial demographic and our client’s four key personas (High-Profit Customers, Truck/SUV Enthusiasts, Price-Sensitive Customers, and High-Ticket Value Customers) with highly relevant ads.
Experiments in runtime
We utilized YouTube CTV, YouTube TrueView for Reach, and later transitioned to Video Reach and Video Ad Sequencing campaigns with a mix of :06, :15, and :30 spots. We also used Google’s Bumper Machine to effectively create our own cut-down :06 cuts from existing :15 and :30 assets. We saw the greatest success amongst our :06 spots for mass reach and efficient CPMs, with :15 and :30 ads helping to drive higher view rates and engagement.
We chose YouTube CTV specifically as a mass-reach engine based on media consumption trends and behaviors to effectively scale our campaigns in the absence of linear TV. With a target audience focus of millennials, YouTube CTV was the perfect fit to achieve and exceed our client’s mass-reach goals against unique users.
Our complementary approach to OLV via YouTube TrueView/Video Reach utilized :06 ads for mass reach with a balance of :15 skippable/non-skippable ads and :30 ads in skippable formats to drive completed views against the most relevant audiences.
Scale, test, optimize, repeat
We deployed a variety of tools to drive success in our Google awareness campaigns, creating individual campaigns targeting specific devices to scale, as well as opting into new video products and format BETAs as soon as they became available (including the aforementioned Video Reach and Video Ad Sequencing). This allowed us to better optimize and scale our awareness efforts to balance unique reach and awareness across our various formats and creatives.
Google’s plethora of audience insights was crucial to the success of our activations, guiding our tactics per target persona. Google Insights Finder and Audience Insights in the UI/Google Analytics were key references in providing additional data and audience segment opportunities beyond the automotive space—tapping into segments including travel, shopping, and tech as other areas where our customers may be. The higher the confidence level and index value, the more likely we were to reach an auto consumer.
To optimize towards the lowest cost to reach a unique user, we tested affinity targeting against various topics at the top of the funnel to determine where our audiences were and what performed best in terms of brand lift and cost per lifted user.
Efficient use of YouTube CTV and an early-to-market advantage contributed to below-benchmark CPMs and above-benchmark brand lift. Customers that were exposed to our ads were 1.5x more likely to search for one of our client’s brands than those who were not.
Compared to Google’s analysis of predicted demand growth for our brands, it was recorded that search volume was above this demand prediction by 8.8% in Q1 and by 30% in Q2 due to increased investment in YouTube OLV/CTV and balanced use of these products and platforms.
These efforts contributed to peak demand for our client’s brands over a three-year historical time frame—demand that we subsequently captured via paid search, delivering a 30:1 ROI and contributing to record-setting digitally-matched revenue.
We also tested a YouTube Masthead activation over a five-day timeframe to support one of our client’s largest retail sales of the year. Google noted that our client was the first in its industry to run this type of activation in the last five years, and the fresh approach effort drove significant impressions at a highly efficient CPM in a short timeframe. It led directly to this sales event’s highest revenue weekend in company history, with Google-supported tactics at the forefront.
Last up: Lead generation
That wraps up this installment of our marketing masterclass! If you missed it, make sure you swing back to part one—a deep dive into one of our most effective online sales campaigns, which deployed the right mix of Google products to drive incredible results in a truly challenging year.
Next time, we turn our attention to lead generation. Join us as we go behind the scenes of a paid media engagement that drove an almost-unbelievable 625% increase in leads. See you then!