Venus Ozdemir is the integrated marketing experiences director at The Coca-Cola Company for Eurasia and Middle East.
How far would you go to get an all-expenses paid trip to the most anticipated sports event of the year? Some people would be willing to do almost anything.
Which was exactly the thinking behind our YouTube campaign earlier this year, which offered 60 people flights and tickets to the sold-out Saudi Arabia vs. Argentina game at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
We had two key goals for our campaign:
- Boost reach and sales among Saudi Arabian Gen Zs — those born between 1997 and 2012 — in a fun but cost-effective way.
- Inspire Saudi Gen Z-ers to dream big and believe in their team’s victory against all odds, with our campaign tagline being ‘believing is magic’.
Getting the ball rolling with a Gen Z deep-dive
Knowing our campaign success would be dependent on how well we knew our audiences, we worked with Google and media agency, EssenceMediacom, on audience research first.
The Google team used internal tools to do a deep-dive analysis of top YouTube and Search trends — as searched for by Saudis — pairing them with data insights from audience research tools that EssenceMediacom was subscribed to.
Trending searches and insights that emerged from this research included terms like “buy a house”, “skydiving”, and “fashionista”. These directly inspired the Affinity Audiences — broader audience groups with strong and specific interests — that we chose to reach during our campaign. For example, “home and garden enthusiasts”, “gamers”, “soccer fans”, “fashionistas”, and “foodies”.
Defining these audience affinities helped us shape our video creative, which focused on the premise that most people would be willing to do almost anything to get tickets to an already sold-out World Cup.
Changing the game with character-capturing creative
We knew that if we wanted to get Gen Z’s attention, our ads couldn’t just be different. They needed to also be relatable. So we collaborated with well-known Saudi Arabian Gen Z comedy creator Mohammed Shamsi, creating just one base video starring Shamsi from which to build all of our other videos.
Creative management platforms came in next. We used a combination of our creative agency's tools, as well as Ads Creative Studio, Google’s AI-powered creative management platform. By plugging our affinity audiences into the latter and utilising its AI power, we were able to create 32 personalised video ads from that one base video in just a matter of days.
Ads Creative Studio did this by automatically swapping out certain visuals and messages in real-time to match the interests of the audiences we had chosen. If a designer had done this, it would have taken weeks.
For example, the ad we used to reach “home and garden enthusiasts” features Shamsi asking the viewer how they think they could increase their odds of going to the FIFA World Cup.
He suggests inventing a new lawn-mowing technique for football pitches, showing a humorous visual of a man lying on his stomach cutting grass. He then quickly adds that it might just be easier to buy a Coca-Cola to win flights and tickets to the tournament.
Watch the ad below:
Another ad — sharing the same overall message but swapping out visuals and messaging to match the interests of “thrill seekers” — shows someone skydiving into a stadium:
Ads Creative Studio is a cloud-based platform. This allowed our creative team to easily share assets directly with media performance specialists GroupM Nexus, who set up, optimised, and reported on the campaign. They were able to upload and manage our campaign from the same platform the ads were being designed on, which drastically boosted collaboration, transparency, and efficiency.
Lining up for a powerful strike
YouTube Video reach campaigns helped us drive awareness by using Google’s AI to serve the best combination of ads and improve reach and efficiency on YouTube.
Skippable in-stream ads, meanwhile, were optimised towards video views, with a view counted when a person watched 30 seconds of our ad. As our ads were around 38 seconds each, this bidding option was a great way to drive consideration and understand how engaged our audiences were.
GroupM Nexus implemented our entire campaign through Google’s end-to-end campaign management solution, Display & Video 360. This allowed us to easily control every aspect of it, from collaboration to audience insights access, bidding and optimisation to spend control, and where our ads were running.
Not only did we achieve a video view-through rate of 46% versus the 30% planned — which is 36% above industry benchmarks — we also saved 42% on our planned cost-per-view bidding budget.
During the promotional period, Coca-Cola's market share in Saudi Arabia increased by 10%, with sales volume increasing by 22%. These are the highest figures we’ve seen from a promotional campaign in the kingdom.
While we used this strategy for our World Cup campaign, the learnings are universal. We know now that personalised marketing performs far better than standard creatives, and that the quickest way to produce personalised ads is at scale. We’ll continue using this strategy to incorporate dynamic, personalised ads within key campaigns in the future.