As Sofacompany’s E-commerce Manager, Jackie Frandsen is in charge of all things digital, including online video campaigns. Andre Stahmer is Chief Commercial Officer and heads up the brand’s marketing department.
We all know that feeling of coming home after a hectic day. Excited to finally have a moment alone, you flop on the sofa and relax… until the kids join you. Or the dog. Or your flatmates. When thinking about Sofacompany’s first ever branding campaign, it was that sense of universal familiarity we wanted to highlight.
Like many newcomer brands, we spent our first 10 years building a business by focusing on the lower funnel of the customer journey. While this approach helped us successfully drive short-term revenue, it didn’t contribute to our long-term brand awareness.
So in 2021, we did something we’d never done before: we filmed an online-first video campaign entirely focused on branding. By entering this new territory, we got to know our audiences better, redefined how we engage with them, and maximised results with a data-driven approach.
The heart of the home
Sofacompany is always striving to be more sustainable and inclusive, but doesn’t like to shout about it. This posed an interesting challenge when we had to come up with a message for this branding campaign; how could we show people what we were about without being explicit?
We reminded ourselves that we sell sofas – situated in the heart of every home. At the end of the day, showing people that they can trust us with providing that centrepiece in their lives was most important to us. So we needed to come up with a story that appealed to a diverse audience with different lives and homes.
We worked with Google's Creative Works team and creative agencies Precis Digital and Open to create a compilation of 15 different ‘Sofa Stories’, from dogs playing wildly to a father picking up his sleeping child. This approach wouldn’t just allow us to speak to a wider audience, but also make it much easier to cut segments and use them in isolation for social and video ad sequencing campaigns.
A modular testing plan
With no benchmarks of how our different audiences might respond to a branding campaign, we had a lot to learn before finalising our strategy. Precis Digital encouraged us to challenge our presumptions with a comprehensive testing framework they built for us.
We started off by digging a little deeper into our audiences. 25-44 year old females had always been most vocal about our brand on social media, but were they actually responsible for the majority of our sales? It turned out that wasn’t the case: Google Ads and Global Web Index data revealed that 40% of the brand’s customer base was male, and the average age was 44.
Based on this, we segmented our testing audience into three core groups: parents, non-parents, and mature audiences.
The first thing we tested was the beginning of the film. The initial idea was to open with a contrast, visualising the chaos of the world – busy streets, protests, political debates – before showing someone relaxing on their sofa. But we soon found that this didn’t work. On YouTube, you have to hook people instantly by showing something related to your brand. People want to know what they’re looking at, or they’ll drop off.
We also tested the optimal video length by comparing various cuts between 36 and 90 seconds. This showed us that the shortest video had by far the best retention rate.
Then, before setting up our official YouTube ad sequencing campaign, our final and most crucial test was to establish which video segments worked best for which audiences. We split up our three core audiences in separate ad groups and showed them ads with five different beginnings, ranging from chaos to fun.
The results caught us by surprise. For example, where we thought parents would react most strongly to a video featuring children, they equally liked seeing couples in a fight or on a date. This made us realise that you never know how your audience is going to react. It’s good to set hypotheses, but you should always try and debunk them before they become part of your strategy.
The three tested audience groups and their preferred opening scenes, ranking from top to bottom performers.
A comfortable launch
We used the insights gained from our tests to build bespoke video ad sequencing journeys per audience group, leaving out any videos with a below average retention rate. This allowed us to tell relevant stories without boring the audience, leading to a more than 2X uplift in view rate on YouTube. Since the ads were skippable, this was our main indicator of people enjoying the videos and our creative concept.
By the end of 2021, our brand awareness across Europe had increased by 25% compared to the year before.
To measure the overall goal of driving brand awareness, we also ran Search Lift Studies to understand how many people were inspired to search for Sofacompany after being exposed to the ad. The campaign showed a 6X lift in branded searches in Denmark and 27X in the relatively new export markets Germany and the Netherlands. By the end of 2021, our brand awareness across Europe had increased by 25% compared to the year before.
We wouldn’t have been able to drive these results without testing so rigorously beforehand, which underscores the power of online video. The flexibility it provides allows you to ask what customers want to see and directly respond to that, rather than just pushing a message that’s important to you as a brand. It’s made us think differently about who we are talking to and what we want to get out of those conversations. Branding is about building true connections – and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on as we further explore the upper funnel.