Albert Heijn use their YouTube channel Appie Today to create new connections with customers

As TV viewing rates decline in the Netherlands, supermarket retailer Albert Heijn look to online video as a new way of creating emotional connections with consumers. Working in close collaboration with a range of partners, their YouTube channel Appie Today achieves more than 19m views in its first year.

Goals
Disrupt traditional supermarket advertising with an innovative, online video channel
Establish closer relationships with consumers and increase engagement through authentic communication
Approach
Establish a new channel on YouTube carrying customised digital-only content released on a daily schedule
Close collaboration with Google, creative and media agencies to benefit from the widest range of knowledge and expertise
Data-driven optimisation and content creation
Results
15,000 subscribers to the Appie Today YouTube channel
More than 19m views in first year of operation
16% increase in brand favorability and positive impact on Net Promoter Score
Think with Google: Albert Heijn use their YouTube channel Appie Today to create new connections with customers

Albert Heijn is the largest supermarket retailer in The Netherlands, operating 900 stores and a thriving ecommerce business driving $500m in annual revenue.

Serving 5M plates and therefore has a significant impact on Dutch society. With Appie today as their social video channel, there are tapping into Dutch culture and trends.


Finding new ways to touch hearts and minds

Linear television viewership in the Netherlands is dropping by as much as 20%(* Source: Wavemaker: NL 2018) over the past 4 years. , so Albert Heijn realised that in order to reach their customer base effectively, they would have to find new ways to get their message out. From this insight, they started to think about establishing their own online video channel, an idea that was developed in 2016 during a YouTube Labweek held in conjunction with Google ZOO, creative agency TBWA and media agency Wavemaker.


During the Labweek sessions, the groundwork was laid for Appie Today - Albert Heijn’s YouTube channel - which delivers content on a daily schedule, tailored to the needs and interests of the brand’s customers. “For us, the most important goal with this project is touching the consumers' hearts and minds with engaging content," says Monique Bergers, Editor in Chief of Appie Today. “As Albert Heijn, we need to develop content that resonates with everyone in the Netherlands. We put 5 million plates on the table every day and therefore reach a very large audience; young and old and from all different backgrounds.”


Working closely with partners

Establishing a dedicated online channel was a new experience, so the brand worked in close collaboration with their partners to ensure success. “In the past Albert Heijn relied on a combination of traditional media and online media in their campaigns,” says Daan Ten Bosch, Strategy Director at Wavemaker. “So making an online-only channel was new. But we knew that we wanted to do this from the start, as we saw the media landscape changing and it was getting harder and to grab consumers’ attention in this increasing on-demand media environment.

Creating a regular cadence of content that resonates and creates strong emotional connections is no easy task, and as Darre van Dijk, Chief Creative Officer TBWA, observes, the breadth of Albert Heijn’s customer base makes the challenge even greater. “We want to reflect what the customers are thinking about, what they are worried about, what they are curious about, and give them a dose of inspiration and entertainment every day,” he says. To achieve this goal, the brand produce short, snackable digital-only videos for Appie Today that aim to create a dialogue with customers rather than simply pushing sales messages.


Data + Creativity = Magic

Ongoing optimisation and content planning draw heavily from the rich viewer behaviour data available on YouTube. “We use data to drive our decisions in support of our own creativity,” says Monique Bergers. “Where those two meet is where the magic happens. Data without creativity is nothing, but just relying on creativity isn’t enough anymore.” The Appie Today team also work closely with Google, who provide monthly trend reports which feed into the content creation process. “If we see that a certain video or format is not performing to our benchmark we will optimise the audiences or even the video itself,” adds Monique. “So data and insight is a key part of everything we do.”

In addition to pushing new content to the channel every day, Albert Heijn also use TrueView and Bumper Ads to generate reach. Key campaigns such as holidays and seasonal events are also promoted using Mastheads, while Info Cards bring content to life and create extra engagement with viewers. The team at Wavemaker perform campaign optimisation on a daily basis, and monitor social activity such as likes, shares and comments.

 

Appie Today is a new way for us to reach the hearts and minds of our consumers, and we will continue to invest in this form of communication

- Monique Bergers, Editor in Chief - Appie today


Collaboration brings great results

The collaborative approach has yielded great results for Albert Heijn, with the Appie Today YouTube channel earning around 15,000 subscribers and over 20m views in its first year. Brand Lift studies have shown an increase in Brand Favorability of 16% year on year, and the team continue to run these reports regularly to ensure that the content is creating the desired emotional impact on their customers. Net Promoter Scores are also being monitored as a key campaign success metric, and the Albert Heijn team are very happy with what they’ve seen so far.

“Appie Today is a new way for us to reach the hearts and minds of our consumers, and we will continue to invest in this form of communication,” says Monique Bergers, summing up the importance of this project. “What we’ve learned is the value of leveraging the different expertise of all our partners, iterating and scaling quickly, and letting the data guide our decisions. It’s been a great success, and we’re looking forward to seeing the emotional connection between our customers and brand developing further.”

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