Motion picture marketing

Kiss goodbye to the 30-second ad/ YouTube, branded clips and click-to-buy are redefining the who, what, where, when and how of online campaigns.


Online video has been tipped as one of the fastest-growing digital channels for 2011. The past six months have seen a host of innovative campaigns hit the market from the M&S interactive branded video campaign featuring click-to-buy to the Doritos user-generated ’King of Ads’ campaign, which called on the public to create their own ads, with the winner played during ITV’s World Cup coverage.

With consumer attention now divided across multiple platforms – from TV, PC and mobile, to tablets such as the iPad, and now the rise of web-connected TVs, the opportunities for video to cross over are ever-increasing.

Opportunities range from interactive pre-, mid-, and post-roll ads during long-form video-on-demand content to interactive ’skins’ that add a branded frame around a video player on a website, to viral, user-generated, and brand-funded content. Deciding which ad format will best suit a brand’s campaign objectives is a challenge. Some have proved more effective than others.

Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), Sky and media research agency Decipher has helped shed light on which formats have proved the most effective. According to the study, which tracked 24 short-form video campaigns from 11 brands over 12 months, video campaigns combining pre-roll and banner ads deliver the highest recall rates.

Five different ad formats were examined, and of the 6,000 respondents interviewed, nearly half (47%) recalled ads that used a combination of pre-roll and banners, although 44% said they remembered the ad when pre-roll alone was used.

The research showed that branded video players, which include wrap-around ads that remain while content is playing, delivered the highest click-through rates, with an average of 1.23% across all campaigns. Branded clickable overlays, which run over a section of the video, sometimes with banners along the bottom of the video, were the least effective, averaging a 0.16% click-through rate.

However, click-through is not the only aim of online video campaigns. Other advertisers, particularly retailers, are looking into the mechanics of click-to-buy, where users can click on items in the video itself to make a purchase. Debenhams and M&S, for example, now have their own online TV channels, created by Adjust Your Set, where the majority of their video, complete with click-to-buy content, now sits.

Both have run interactive branded content campaigns in the last six months.

Simon Wood, M&S head of web operations, says video is providing a significant commercial return. “We know that customers who watch video spend longer on our site, view three times the number of products and deliver a sales increase of 30% compared to those who don’t view any video content,” he says.

Simon Forster, Debenhams online trading director, agrees the benefits of video are all measureable around customer engagement, viewing times and click-to-buy. However, he says it is important to be clear of the purpose of each video clip. “Customer engagement cannot always be determined by a return-on-investment – video allows us to combine brand advertising and brand development as well as being a great transactional tool,” he says.

Another brand that has effectively monetised its video campaigns is Doritos. The brand saw a 15% year-on-year sales uplift following its “Late Night” global branded-video campaign (see case study box). For this it worked with advertising agency AMV BBDO to strike exclusive deals with British music artists Rhianna and Professor Green.

Video has also proved an effective tool for FMCG brands looking to reposition their product identities. The last few months have seen brands including Unilever and Heinz launch campaigns using interactive, celebrity-fronted videos to help trigger a change in consumer behaviour.

In January, Unilever launched a year-long digital campaign with Channel 4 that uses video to reposition Hellmann’s mayonnaise as a cooking ingredient rather than a condiment.

Likewise, last October Heinz launched a seven-figure digitally-led campaign to drive diversity in how consumers use Heinz tomato ketchup. The ’Secret Ingredient’ campaign centred on recipe videos fronted by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Paul Rankin, talking to consumers about other cooking uses of tomato ketchup.

The FMCG giant also worked with supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to promote the campaign via online and offline channels, and drive people to the campaign site. The videos ran on the Heinz campaign site, as well as Asda’s website.

Heinz senior brand manager Ian McCarthy says it is well on its way to hitting its target of 150,000 unique users to the site, and has built a 36,000-strong community on Facebook since the campaign. Average dwell time is also strong at over eight minutes.

“We wanted to change consumer behaviour and how they use Heinz tomato ketchup – this required an additional level of information and interactivity from the consumer – that couldn’t have been done with other media such as print or straight online media.”

He reckons video also helps break down complex campaign messages that require shifts in consumer behaviour. “A celebrity chef talking directly to a consumer is so much more impactful and inspiring through online video content than it would be in a static way,” he says.

The past year has seen brands delve further into extending traditional TV campaigns beyond merely repurposing a TV ad online. This can vary from producing additional, exclusive online footage to producing web spin-offs from existing TV campaigns.

Last November, Kia Motors dedicated a third of its £2m campaign spend to online video, for its new Sportage model. The two-month campaign used three characters from Kia’s TV ads, part of its sponsorship of ITV’s FA Cup coverage, and extended them online, adding extra content. These characters – Keith, Ian and Andy, perform a range of driving stunts and challenges in the videos.

At the time Lawrence Hamilton, marketing general manager for Kia UK, told Marketing Week’s sister publication New Media Age that using characters and stories as the backbone for video ads is the most effective way to increase engagement and boost sales. “Videos can come in very flat presentation-type formats, which people are used to, so they’re more likely to go unnoticed,” he said. “But if there’s a story and characters people can interact with, that’s more compelling.”

Lucozade has a different approach to its video strategy. It works with media agency Mediacom to roll out video prior to rolling out its TV campaigns, to stir up interest. Lucozade marketing director Suzy Smith says online TV catch-up content has such a critical mass the company can’t afford to ignore it.

“We would be missing a significant segment of our consumers if we didn’t advertise around it. Our investment in video-on-demand (VOD) is growing and is now a regular part of our audio visual spend, including TV and cinema. We see VOD as a great way of reaching an early adopter audience, so we use it to seed our content ahead of linear TV launch and to hit a core youth audience who find the idea of appointment-to-view TV anachronistic.”

Ensuring a campaign integrates seamlessly across multiple channels is a challenge, but one at which certain brands are becoming very adept. Debenhams has made bold strides in this area, its most notable involving a year-long tie-up with Channel 5.

The deal includes video ads around the broadcaster’s soap Neighbours, both online and on TV. The ads are a spoof of the Neighbours credit sequence montage, starring models wearing Debenhams seasonal ensembles. Clothes featured in the ads are tagged with “As seen on TV”, while online ads run around video content on, the Neighbours website, and the broadcaster’s dedicated soaps website.

Forster at Debenhams says video is a “key tool” in developing its multichannel message. “We see it as one of the best media for customer engagement, creating emotion and building brand advocacy. It’s also transportable, allowing us to promote the same messages through multiple channels concurrently,” he adds.

Getting viewers involved with the making of ads is also a powerful technique. Doritos launched its King of Ads campaign during ITV’s coverage of the World Cup, calling on people to create their own video ad, with the winning entry airing on ITV during the tournament, and winning a prize of £200,000. Doritos had 3,000 entries and over a million views of the content.

Social media has also reinvigorated viral video, and how it drives brand engagement. Incorporating more social features into video is something brands need to explore. Brands such as M&S are using video to engage consumers via social media channels, and Wood adds that video helps kick-start conversations that build communities, and eventually sales.

“We can also use the social network to help spread content peer to peer which is increasingly being seen as the most effective way to communicate with consumers. Those who pass on messages from us in a positive way are more likely to become advocates who could potentially validate purchases with other consumers. If our messages fail to get passed on then we know we must up our game,” he says.

The rise of branded video content has paved the way for brands to entertain and engage consumers as media companies in their own right.

Steve Taylor, non-executive director at Monterosa, the company that co-developed the playalong game format for Endemol and Channel 4’s gameshow Million Pound Drop, reckons the future of advertising is in branded mini-content gaming and entertainment formats.

The company is in the midst of developing formats like this. “We call these Active Brand Content, and they cover a gamut of possible formats from enhanced display ads to branded mini-games and mini-entertainment formats.”

Taylor believes video’s most valuable role is as supporting content rather than advertising. “Video has its place in the evolution of digital advertising, but it’s a way-station, not the destination. We see a brighter – potentially bigger – future in ads that get you doing something in real-time, and create a virtuous circle between the TV and the internet.”

Jessica Davies is a reporter on New Media Age



Doritos saw a 15% year-on-year sales uplift following its ’Late Night’ global branded-video campaign targeting 18- to 24-year-olds. The company struck exclusive content deals with artists Rhianna and Professor Green, to run the first 360-degree branded-music video promoting two new flavours – Tantalising Tikka and BBQ Rib.

Doritos worked with creative agency AMV BBDO to develop several videos featuring different local artists for each country the campaign crossed into. In the UK it was British rapper Professor Green. He produced an exclusive track ’Comin’ To Get Me’ for the campaign, which was only available to watch via the Doritos Late Night 360-degree video.


Doritos used social media to drive people to watch the video, targeting Rhianna and Professor Green fans via Facebook. Those watching were then encouraged to go to the Doritos global website – where they could watch Rhianna’s new music exclusively.

The brand was able to drive direct sales of its two new late-night flavours by locking access to the Rhianna video. Viewers had to buy

The product to obtain an on-pack code that unlocked the video.

“This was the first 360-degree music video on YouTube, so it has that word-of-mouth and buzz factor about it,” says Doritos brand manager Sam Hinchliffe.

Entertaining people with exclusive content is paramount for a successful video campaign, according to Hinchecliffe. “We wanted to hook people in locally with local talent, and then drive them to the global website, where you had to buy a pack to access the Rhianna content.”

The video attracted 2 million views on YouTube, and the iPhone app was downloaded 100,000 times. It also recorded 280,000 visits to its web app, with an average dwell time of over three minutes.

Doritos’ target demographic for the campaign was 18- to 24-year-olds – an age group Hinchecliffe reckons is a “reluctant” audience. “There has to be a genuine benefit for them – music and entertainment is a massive part of their lives, so being able to give them content that’s so relevant to them, exclusively, is what made it so successful,” he says.


case study


In the run-up to Christmas last year launched a series of gift films incorporating click-to-buy, created by video content specilaist Adjust Your Set.

These ’Gifts for Him’ and ’Gifts for Her’ were live for ten days on the e-tailer’s online TV channel, and attracted 22,682 views; 2,609 ’Buy’ clicks on the gifts, and an average clickthrough rate of 11.5%.

Subsequently Lastminute asked the agency to repurpose the films to make them more generic, to use in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. The videos were live for 13 days, attracting 11,840 views and 1,047 people clicked ’buy’ – an average clickthrough rate of 8.8% – by the time Marketing Week went to press.

A spokeswoman says the click-to-buy videos have provided a significant return on investment. “Video content like this where the viewer can click and buy products or services from us while the video is playing has proved it drives sales and engagement for the brand, and we’ll continue to invest in this in the coming year.”

top tips

  • Research has shown the most popular viral videos are funny and less than two minutes, so keep them short.
  • Viewers like to investigate brands in their own time, so click-through shouldn’t be used as the only measure ofsuccess for an online video campaign.
  • Use the IAB’s Video Marketing Guide, and use its VAST and VPAID standard formats when planning a video campaign.
  • User-generated content not only gets consumers engaged, but has great viral potential.
  • Keep ads around short-form content (five minutes or less) between five and 20 seconds. Ads around long-form content, such as TV shows and films, can be longer – up to 90 seconds.



Directing the online traffic

Nicola Smith

Since Kia Motors embraced online marketing, brand interest and sales have rocketed, and it’s so successful the company is now thinking the unthinkable – dropping TV campaigns altogether, discovers Nicola Smith.


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