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Why brands need to get to the point on YouTube

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

zeitgeist5countdown

There are a couple of things that bother me about YouTube. Leaving aside the angst about the future of the human race that reading more than a couple of comments naturally brings, the first is as a user.

When I’m trying to get my daily dose of Gangnam Style or watch yet another hilarious Harlem Shake video, I don’t yearn to watch an advert first. Nevertheless, it’s a free service and they have to make some money somehow.

The second is as a marketer. Although they are a bit of a pain, when these adverts pop up you can choose to skip them after a few seconds.

Yet because the ads are at least 30 seconds long, they’ve barely started setting the scene before they are bypassed. YouTube themselves say that between 70% to 80% of ads are skipped.

So in the end, rather than enhance the experience and engage a wide audience, the adverts become a frustration for the user and provide no real benefit to the brand. Nobody wins.

Tailoring the message for the medium

For some reason, brands aren’t designing for and exploiting the medium they are using. But as basic as this sounds, it’s not unusual. Early TV ads were essentially radio ads with a still image. Fifteen years ago, many websites were just glorified company brochures. It takes marketers a while to figure out how to get maximum impact from their new toy.

Parallels with Shopper

The same is occasionally true for Shopper Marketing.

Increasingly, brands are wising up to the importance of focusing on the shopper and the lead up to the purchase decision. They’re starting to invest accordingly, seek out specialist counsel and are rewarded with increased sales. However, there are still many brands who still think that a shot of their TV ad on a bit of cardboard is all that is needed to clear the shelves.

Sitting amongst Business Directors, I see the frequent battles they face as well-meaning partner agencies from other disciplines liberally suggest how shopper focused executions ought to look, but don’t want to take any feedback on their own work.

That every media opportunity comes with its own pros and cons, and plays a unique role in communicating brand messages and pushing shoppers closer to purchase, seems like something you would learn on your first day at Marketing School.

While forward thinking agencies can offer ‘integration’ and ‘joined up thinking’, individuals will inevitably show a bias towards their own particular field.

Seconds to Sell

Just like in-store comms, YouTube ads have to get their message across quickly.

So why don’t they?

Well, YouTube’s TrueView system doesn’t charge advertisers unless the ad is watched in its entirety, or at least 30 seconds are shown. To some, this means an ad should be at least 30 seconds long, because otherwise you are paying for something you could have got for free. It might make economic sense, but doesn’t consider the viewer, who should be the primary concern. Just as importantly, it doesn’t consider the purpose of the communication.

Sometimes brands get it right. This environmental campaign from Chile incorporates the ‘Skip Video’ option to encourage users to stop wasteful behaviour. But it is an exception, not the rule.

The challenge to brands using YouTube is clear.

Either sell me your product in the first five seconds, or at the very least, use them to sell me the rest of your ad.

Otherwise, I’m skipping.

A Seeding Campaign with a Difference

June 21, 2011 1 comment

As most products are developed to create or fulfil a consumer need there is rarely a great deal of confusion as to how they should be used.

That is not so say that inventive consumers can’t find extra uses for everyday products.

In some cases these innovators benefit the product and change how it is marketed. Way back in 1924, Kimberley Clark targetted the humble Kleenex to women as a means of removing make-up. It took six years, a persistant researcher and some trial adverts to convince them it ought to be sold as a hygienic replacement for the handkerchief.

In other instances a much less welcome use is discovered such as when ravers found that the innocent Vicks Vaporub could enhance their narcotic experiences.

You butter not eat this

Recently it has been an item given away as part of an on-pack promotion that has caused some confusion and generated some unexpected column inches.

Danish butter brand Lurpak have spent the year inspiring consumers and reminding them of the benefits of paying a little bit more for their butter.

More recently they’ve been giving away  seeds for consumers to grow their own herbs. A website supports the promotion with lots of tasty recipes for each herb, including some by Jamie Oliver.

However, some residents of a Dorset care home mistook the slabs of soil for biscuits and nearly choked as they scoffed them down.

Upon hearing the news, Zeitgeist rushed out and boosted Lurpak‘s sales by one.

‘Here are your free basil seeds’

Without the sleeve, things are less obvious

A warning not to eat what is inside the sleeve

The on-pack promotion serves to give the shopper a distinctive reason to choose that product over any competitors, but as we know, the shopper isn’t always the consumer.

While the person who bought the butter for the care home would most likely have known what was stuck to the side of the tub, once the sleeve is removed there is no explanation as to what it is.

While this incident seems to be isolated and lighthearted it highlights the need to consider how a product is used once it leaves the store.

With reports suggesting that there are 12 million illiterate adults in the UK and around 10% of the population aged 7 or under perhaps a written explanation on a sleeve isn’t always enough.

As our photographs show, the slab could be mistaken for a cookie by someone unaware the wider campaign.

Perhaps in these difficult financial times an opportunity exists for an entrepreneur to set up a panel consisting of the young, the old and the illiterate to test promotions to make sure such confusion is avoided in future.

Paddy Power’s on to a winner with charity shirt offer

February 7, 2011 2 comments

The importance of having a brand attitude.

In categories where the offering is essentially the same, a brand’s positioning and the way it behaves become all the more important as means of differentiating them from the competition.

One such category is online gambling.

In essence, all of the companies offer punters the chance to stake some of their hard earned cash on all manner of sporting and cultural events. The market is extremely crowded and with sites like oddschecker.com enabling gamblers to find the best odds on a given bet, building loyalty can be difficult.

All of which means that acquiring new customers is essential and online bookmakers must stay front of mind in order to be considered. For brands with large budgets, oft-pursued routes include high profile sponsorship, advertisements and idents.

One brand with a smaller budget that manages to maintain a high profile is Paddy Power.

Their novelty bets, early payouts, refunds and risky communications have helped them carve a niche position amongst their rivals. Ranging from the Last Supper reworked as a casino table to a poster seemingly offering odds on which old lady would be hit by a car to sponsoring Tongan rugby player Epi Taion to change his name to Paddy Power by deed poll for the duration of the the 2007 World Cup, their activities are marked by a rebellious streak and a desire to generate as much free publicity as possible.

Their ability to respond quickly to current events helps keep them in the public eye, the poster at the top of the article greeted visitors to Ireland immediately after they’d been knocked out of the World Cup Play-off by France and Thierry Henry’s imfamous handball. The stategy of capitalising on current affairs is as strong as ever has as evidenced by a couple of recent viral activities.

The first was an opportunist game, turned around in under 24 hours, which invited users to ‘slap’ former SkySports pair Richard Keys and Andy Gray. Capitalising on the furore caused by their sexist comments the game was passed around by football fans and feminists alike.

The second is a great piece of activation.

Following the high profile deadline day transfers of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea and Andy Carroll from Newcastle to Liverpool, the bookmaker offered distraught fans the chance to trade their old hero’s shirt for a £50 bet.

Better still, the unwanted shirts will then be given to Oxfam and sent to Africa.

That's £50 you're setting fire to there sunshine!

Both activities will have been relatively cheap to implement, but their relevance both to current events and their target audience ensured that they were shared virally, thus saving a fortune in media costs.

Paddy Power’s long history of courting controversy and clearly defined brand personality distinguishes them from their myriad competitors and allows them to continue to engage their audience in such a distinctive style. Each stunt serves to raise their profile in the short term while further reinforcing their brand identity in the long term.


Their behaviour might not appeal to everyone and their stunts often cost them financially, however so long as no one used their £50 wager to bet on a draw after Arsenal went 4-0 up at St. James Park on Saturday, the Irish bookmaker will look back at a couple of weeks of good work courting publicity and living up to expectations.