Reinvent your brand and grow your base by combining video and search

Kristen Shipley / February 2020

Launching a new product can be a hard sell. Embarking on a rebrand might be even tougher. Not only do you have to introduce a totally new brand to consumers, you have to make sure customers loyal to the old brand stay on board. And you have to convince both that the new you is worth their consideration and money.

That’s the scenario shopping and cash-back rewards company Ebates faced after it was bought by the Japanese giant Rakuten. Ebates decided to rebrand as Rakuten, a major risk considering Ebates had 20 years of household awareness and brand loyalty.

Once the decision to rebrand was made, the company settled on a full-funnel strategy, one that started off with branding but evolved throughout the year — and throughout the purchase journey. With this approach, in one year Rakuten gained more than 80% of the brand awareness that took Ebates 20 years to build while keeping its sign-up volume consistent to ensure revenue success.

How did Rakuten achieve its goals? With three steps that any marketer can replicate.

3 ways to grow your base by combining video and search

Magnifying glass hovers over people icon: 1. Understand consumer perceptions to influence your approach. Tutorial video with tool icon: 2. Customize creative based on marketing objective. Play button & search icons: 3. Make video and search work together.

Understand consumer perceptions to influence your approach

By uncovering what information would help people better understand your product and brand, you can more effectively speak to them. Rakuten knew that customers old and new would need to be educated, not only about what it did, but even something as simple as how to say it.

“‘Rakuten’ is difficult to pronounce for many Americans, so proper pronunciation of our brand was the initial challenge for us when we considered our rebrand strategy,” said Trever Gregory, vice president of brand marketing at Rakuten.

The first step in its launch campaign was teaching people how to say “Rakuten” through an ad that ran on both YouTube and national TV, aiming to reach its target audiences. During this campaign, the company began analyzing search queries around the Rakuten name and saw that the most popular search query was “What is Rakuten?”

This crucial information informed the decision to shift its creative strategy from name recognition to product attributes and value propositions. The approach evolved from explaining what Rakuten was to why people should care.

Customize creative based on marketing objective

As Rakuten moved people through the marketing funnel, from awareness to action, the brand created additional videos.

But instead of simply repurposing its TV spot to encourage consumer sign up, the brand updated its digital videos. Following best practices for digital video, the online spots featured tighter product shots, memorable visual elements, and a clearer call to action.

Using this approach to online video, 66% of the target audience, consumers ages 25 to 54, reached via YouTube were incremental to TV, according to Nielsen TAR results.

It didn’t stop there. Rakuten created action-oriented ads using TrueView for action, to give people the opportunity to sign up while they watched the ads. Rakuten also worked with their media agency Ocean Media to anticipate what people watching its ads would want. For example, if someone saw an ad via desktop, the company made it easy to install the browser extension. If someone saw an ad via mobile, Rakuten provided the option for consumers to sign up. By shifting its creative assets to drive action, the brand saw a 66% decrease in CPA and a 286% increase in conversion rate.

Ad impact is supercharged when people are exposed to both search and video ads versus search alone.

Make video and search work together

According to a study Google conducted with Ipsos and the 4As, ad impact is supercharged when people are exposed to both search and video ads versus search alone, with 45% higher lifts in ad recall, 43% higher lifts in purchase intent, and 180% higher message retention.1

Rakuten’s approach to video led people to learn more about the brand through search. Their YouTube video campaign led to a 4X increase in branded search and gained thousands of sign-ups, contributing to a 69% decrease in cost per acquisition.

“It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish as a team,” said Gregory. “Our success came from being on the same page with a strong shared vision, and then planning, executing, and iterating to achieve results.”

How challenging an industry stereotype can inform an entire campaign