The Cannes Lions advertising festival has evolved from purely championing traditional advertising formats to embracing the partnership between creativity and digital technology, and I am looking forward to seeing an array of great marketing ideas.
There are a plethora of exciting new tools and platforms available to inspire marketers. Virtual reality and augmented reality were once confined to science fiction, but teams can now work up engaging interactive brand experiences with them.
Last year Google Cardboard, an affordable way of accessing VR, won the Cannes Lions top award for mobile creativity. Just one year on, marketers are able to experiment with 360 video, live streaming and VR.
YouTube is already the largest platform for 360 video, and there are plenty of examples of how this immersive format can fire up the imagination. One video from Oreo Cookies plunges the viewer into a candy-coloured dreamland and has notched up nearly three million views.
Waitrose’s recent week-long live streaming campaign to highlight its free-range farms made full use of new technology and involved a masthead takeover of the YouTube site. To complete a virtuous circle, some of the footage from the farms was cut into conventional TV ads.
Brands can now think outside the box - literally, in the case of McDonald’s Sweden, where the Happy Meal packaging could be turned into a Happy Goggles VR headset to play a skiing game - about what experiences will cut through and drive awareness.
Of course, marketers are rightly reluctant to spend on untried, untested channels that lack robust metrics. But online video is now over 10 years old and there’s a rich seam of learnings and insights available to help craft engaging campaigns. However, what really justifies closer scrutiny of online video is recent research linking YouTube ads to offline sales. A meta-analysis of 56 case studies across eight countries showed advertising on YouTube delivered a higher return on investment than TV in nearly 80% of cases.
One case study focused on a Mars UK Snickers campaign. It tested the mix of TV and online video activity to ascertain whether the confectioner’s media plan was optimised to maximise in-store sales and showed YouTube delivered more than double the ROI of TV for each pound spent reaching the main shopper.
Marketers looking to move consumers along an increasingly complex path to purchase need to have the right content available at the right stage, and online video definitely warrants attention for the key role it can play in driving sales.
Martijn Bertisen is country sales director at Google UK