How an auto brand used a video-first strategy to tell customers 7 different stories

Adam Paterson, Fareed Siddiqui / March 2021

Adam Paterson is the director of marketing at Nissan Canada. Fareed Siddiqui is an account executive at Google Canada who leads the partnership with Nissan. In this case study, they discuss how Google, Nissan and agency Nissan United partnered for an online video-first strategy to reach multiple audiences across YouTube.

Last year, our marketing team at Nissan Canada and Nissan United were faced with a creative first. Nissan was launching the brand’s most important vehicle, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue SUV, during a global pandemic. Demand for cars was high but the ways people buy cars had completely evolved.

The typical car shopper has changed and people were now looking for cars to fulfil a range of new needs, from having safe transportation to work, to finding a vehicle that met their changing lifestyle. Car shoppers moved online in record numbers, with 90% of car buyers now relying on online touchpoints.1 In turn, many dealers considered e-commerce and contactless experiences for the first time, and all auto brands have been forced to rethink their usual advertising channels.

We knew we needed a product launch campaign that reached people at home, across multiple devices, and told more than one story. So, we decided to flip our traditional launch strategy on its head — creating a digital-first video campaign and later, adapting that campaign for TV.

Think of your digital data and analytics as storytellers.

Through our consumer insights research we spotted seven different audiences interested in the Nissan Rogue, including parents, technophiles and outdoor enthusiasts. This presented us an opportunity to tell a unique story to each of them, and engage potential buyers.

In partnership with Google, we decided to adapt YouTube creative for a range of customer demographics, across digital devices — creating 30 different creative cuts, told through seven different types of family (or “fam”) stories. We then optimized the ads for digital screens, like mobile, and deployed the stories through the Video Ad Sequencing solution on YouTube.

Our YouTube campaign resulted in 12% YoY sales growth for Nissan Rogue (+1.3% in market share growth), 5% relative brand lift in favourable opinion for Nissan Rogue (high average vs. automotive benchmarks) and 87% search interest lift in Nissan Rogue queries.2

Here’s how we did it.

Use insights to discover digital customer stories

Think of your digital data and analytics as storytellers. They offer insights into who is interacting with your brand and why. We decided to really dig into the data sources available to us to see who our customers are, and make sure the stories we chose to tell were the right ones, and reaching the right audiences.

The Nissan Rogue is an SUV that caters to multiple audiences, like parents, technophiles, outdoor enthusiasts, adults aged 55 and older, etc. We decided to reflect these audiences in the creative and media strategy by showcasing the many ways the redesigned Nissan Rogue could benefit their lifestyles.

Reach more customers with a range of stories

We needed to reach a diverse audience at scale, so we personalized our approach for each audience segment. We created seven different “fams” and connected each with a feature of the vehicle. For example, the “Cave Exploring Fam” video featured Intelligent All-Wheel Driving creative geared to outdoor enthusiasts looking to drive to hard-to-reach places. For the “Vinyl Fam,” we highlighted creative featuring Bose Audio System, to appeal more to technophiles and music lovers. We then used Google Advanced Audiences to ensure the right creatives were reaching the right audiences.

Take audiences on a storytelling journey

We deployed 30 different cuts of creative, and collaborated on leveraging YouTube’s Video Ad Sequencing solution with Google, to automate the storytelling process. Here’s what our strategy looked like:

  • 15- and 30-second compilations
  • 15-second spots featuring the “fams”
  • 6-second bumper cut downs of the 15-second

We then used a “tease, amplify, echo” strategy to keep Nissan audiences engaged. We started with a 15-second Non-skippable In-Stream ad, followed up with TrueView 30-second compilation video and then a 6-second bumper to reinforce the benefits of Nissan Rogue allowing us to seamlessly tell a story to our potential customers.

Creating impactful digital video ads requires thinking about ways to optimize for different digital experiences.

Optimize for digital devices so stories have impact

The way people consume content, including advertisements, changed during the pandemic, with more people watching on mobile devices and streaming YouTube videos on TV. Using the ABCDs of YouTube creative best practices, for example, we enlarged the supers, close-cropped on features and incorporated fast cuts and pacing, to make it highly engaging on mobile devices. Creating impactful digital video ads requires thinking about ways to optimize for different digital experiences, whether it’s a mobile phone, a tablet, a computer screen, streaming on a TV screen, or other connected devices.

Campaign creative has a big impact on the effectiveness of a video ad, and in turn, on sales. YouTube allows marketers to personalize and optimize campaigns, to tell several stories instead of just one. Use the digital insights and analytics at your disposal to gut-check who your target customers are, and tell the stories that matter to them.

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