Eager to drive online sales of their broadband and mobile services, the Plusnet team sought new ways to reach and engage consumers - a journey that saw them challenge their own fundamental assumptions about marketing.
Historically, they had felt that video advertising wasn’t actionable, optimizable or measurable against direct response objectives. Assuming the only way users could “act” on a video was to watch it, Plusnet’s marketers would only optimise for reach (via TV) or views (via digital video).
Testing their assumptions, the team resolved to experiment with YouTube’s new action-oriented direct response performance tools to drive brand engagement and increase consideration.
First they developed fun, engaging creative tailored specifically to YouTube. They overlaid these with strong offer proposals and granular audience targeting. These tactics helped Plusnet achieve best-in-class results. With the new formats increasing the account’s click-through rate threefold, significantly more traffic was being directed to the Plusnet site. In fact, the campaign overachieved industry benchmarks for view-through and click-through rates. What’s more, the activity boosted purchase intent by 26%.
Looking to the future, these winning outcomes have changed the way Plusnet – and its partner agencies Essence and Karmarama – think about planning for YouTube. Their successes offer valuable takeaways to other brands looking to experiment with online video as a way of driving users to take action.
Takeaway 1: Tailoring creative to platform drives results
By choosing TrueView for action, a format geared to driving direct response, Plusnet and creative agency Karmarama were able to fully leverage the power of TrueView to stimulate audiences via clickable calls to action. The ads not only allowed Plusnet to establish their down-to-earth branding and value proposition, but also featured longstanding brand ambassador ‘Plusnet Joe’ within the ad to connect with users and stir them to act.
Plusnet’s series of bespoke ads designed specifically for YouTube applied simple, effective best practices:
#1 The ads showed the brand name and offer in the first five seconds to capture users’ attention from the beginning.
#2 By featuring comedian and actor Craig Murray, Plusnet created an emotional connection with users. The ads entertained while subtly alluding to the pending offer.
#3 Through a clear call to action, the ads plainly stated what they wanted the audience to do, encouraging users to act during or directly after the video.
Making creative designed for the platform helped Plusnet achieve a view-through rate of 36%, well above industry average, with a cost per view as low as £0.04. At the same time, the click-through rate was three times higher compared to standard TrueView formats, while ad recall peaked at 42%.
“Creatively, we've been on a journey with Plusnet that’s taken us from treating YouTube as an extension of the TV work to producing bespoke made-for-format creative designed to take advantage of the platform.”
– Claire Taylor, Planning Director, Karamama
Takeaway 2: Customise your targeting to find an interested audience
In a marketplace distinguished by fierce competition between brands, Plusnet needed to reach an audience they could be certain were interested in their products. Based on the understanding that relevance and personalisation were important levers to pull in gaining users’ attention online, the Plusnet team believed that serving ads that spoke directly to the right user would make all the difference.
The team used custom intent audiences to find people who had recently searched relevant keywords (such as product brand names and competitors) in tandem with in-market audiences designed to reach users actively researching and considering internet service providers.
Both approaches paid dividends. While custom intent audiences decreased overall cost per conversion, in-market audiences propelled view-through and click-through rates beyond industry benchmarks. By re-engaging users who had previously shown an interest in their mobile and broadband products, Plusnet produced a 26% lift in purchase intent – above the industry average.
"We wanted to make our media budget work as hard as possible and did this by using hyper-relevant targeting combined with the new YouTube direct response solutions. More specifically, custom intent audiences is a great way of integrating our search and video strategies, as it uses search signals from active product-related searches."
– Petros Salimbas, Planning Account Director, Essence
Sharing the secret sauce
For Plusnet’s highly successful YouTube-only campaign, great results came from great planning, much like running an award-winning restaurant: crafting ads with the best ingredients is always recommended, but it’s the service, connecting Google insights to YouTube, that took the meal from good to great.
"YouTube has predominantly been used as a brand campaign medium to help deliver additional reach to viewers. This test proved to us that YouTube can in fact sit lower in the conversion funnel as it’s able to shift more direct response led brand metrics, like purchase intent, whilst driving more traffic to our website."
– Chris Cotterill, Head of Marketing, Plusnet