Apr 22 2014, 1:48am CDT | by Forbes
In a little less than a decade, since Youtube became the most trafficked video site on the web, brands have been competing with each other to reach an online and mobile customer base. One of the fiercest battles to erupt are amid the world’s automotive manufacturers.
And, as we’ve seen at the 2014 International Auto Show is live in New York, car manufacturers are vying against one another to promote new cars and product features to the public, all in the hope of winning market share and sales for 2015 models.
Which autos brands’ ads have been attracting the most attention online over the last 12 months?
I asked social video analytics company, Unruly to pull the data on the top-shared online videos from the autos sector in the year since the 2013 New York Auto Show. Two luxury brands emerge as best in class: Mercedes with its quirky “Chicken/Magic Body Control”, and Audi’s Star Trek tie-in “Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy ‘The Challenge’”. The former appeared to be done on a shoestring budget and the latter looked expensive. So does cost matter? In this case, apparently not.
Here are 5 key ingredients that helped Mercedes and Audi claim victory in generating online shares:
1. These luxury brands made spots that not only entertained viewers, they also promoted the brand and highlighted product features. Mercedes included its name in the video title, so every video watched highlighted the brand, even though the automaker waited to reveal its logo at the end of the spot. Mercedes also filmed a unique chicken feature (who knew they pop and lock while holding their heads steady?!) to memorably highlight their smooth-ride car feature. Audi revealed its logo 27-seconds into the nearly 3-minute long spot, filled with various car features. We learn that Quinto’s Audi has a remote-opened roomy trunk, starts at the push of a button and has a pop up display. It’s fast and smooth, boasts an awesome sound system – all this gleaned by 1:19 into the video.
2. Mercedes and Audi made great content people were compelled to share. People not only watched these videos, they actually stopped what they were going to do next to share this content. 500,000 shares take place daily across the social web, and Mercedes and Audi earned their share, winning over 1.65 million shares across the two spots. This generated earned media, further broadcasting the product features included in these ads and creating an army of brand advocates. When viewers shared these videos with their networks, the referrals came pre-vetted with a valuable seal of peer approval. And, as the data show, one of the reasons viewers share content is to provide social utility, these feature-laden spots were shared with people known to be in the market for a new vehicle, already well progressed down the purchase funnel.
3. They elicited intense psychological responses – that is, they made a strong emotional connection with the audience. Unruly identified 18 psychological responses that have been shown to drive the sharing of branded videos. These brands triggered some of the more unusual responses of knowledge, hilarity, surprise and nostalgia which helped to cut-through the clutter and get attention, using weird chickens to a fun soundtrack to racing Spocks.
See the full 18 Psychological Responses in the score card below:
4. Audi and Mercedes gave viewers multiple reasons to share. They triggered multiple social motivations in viewers. Advertisers should layer on the social motivations in their spots to appeal to as many different viewers as possible. Those shares are valuable – give viewers as many reasons as possible to want to advocate for your brand! According to Unruly, there are 10 key social motivations shown to drive sharing. Here, people shared for social utility, zeitgeist, shared passion, kudos (to show off for being in the know), for self-expression (to reflect one’s personal brand), reaction seeking, opinion seeking. Audi capitalized on the zeitgeist movement around Star Trek: Into Darkness which opened May 16, 2013 and earned an added sharing boost from their timing.
5. Audi and Mercedes both front-loaded their campaigns to earn high volumes of views and shares in the early days of the campaign. The data show that sharing happens fast – with the “viral peak” for a video taking place on the second day after launch, and a full 25% of the video’s total expected lifetime shares occurring within the first three days after launch. Maximizing visibility, which maximizes shares, during this critical time period improves both short-term and long-term video ROI.
Where Mercedes pulled ahead of Audi was in using paid distribution to extend the tail of their campaign. Audi achieved a higher viral peak but saw steep viral decay (which is common in zeitgeist tie-in campaigns). While Mercedes’ initial viral peak is lower, the car company prolonged the life of its asset, extending the viral tail, increasing ROI and emerging as the #1 autos video of the past 12 months.
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