Friday, June 15, 2012

Is YouTube An Oppportunity For Terrific Advertising Experiments?

Alex Konrad has written an article for Fortune titled, "Pepsi, Brewing up viral magic."   The article describes how Pepsi debuted a new "Uncle Drew" ad for Pepsi Max on YouTube.   According to the article, "In the five-minute clip, 'Uncle Drew' amuses, then mesmerizes, a pick-up basketball game and its fans with crossovers and dunks unbecoming of a white-bearded, paunch-carrying old man, and only possible because the true identity of 'Uncle Drew' was a carefully disguised young basketball star, the clip's writer-director Kyrie Irving."  (Irving is the former Duke player and current NBA Rookie of the Year who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers).   What's interesting is where the ad went next... it is now appearing on television as a 30-second spot during the first few games of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder (go Thunder!). 

That progression is somewhat unique, going from YouTube to television.   I find it very interesting though, and I think more firms should emulate this strategy.  This story proves that firms can and should use YouTube not just as part of a social media marketing strategy... They should think of YouTube as a land of experimentation.   YouTube offers an inexpensive way to experiment with new ad strategies.  The cost of failure is minimal, and even the ads that don't become viral sensations can be "useful failures" in that they may provide powerful learning opportunities.  

If firms are to use YouTube as a powerful mechanism for low cost, low risk, fast experimentation, then they need to have clear methods of evaluating these experiments.  Konrad's article explains that Pepsi had just such a method of evaluation:

"Pepsi Max brand team member Sam Duboff, who led creation and development of the piece, says 'Uncle Drew' had to satisfy three major metrics in order to justify its adaptation into a television segment. 'Uncle Drew' had to keep viewers engaged, hit the brand's target demographic, and generate its own legs through word of mouth. With 80% of viewers watching through the 4-minute mark, a 82.1% male viewer group that skewed towards the brand's core 25-44 age group, and over 5 million views from embedded YouTube players suggesting the viewer watched over a media site or Facebook, Duboff and his team hit all three." 

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