Hoagiefest and YouTube

In developing the Wawa Hoagiefest micro-site for the 2009 campaign, we looked for opportunities to place the campaign in front of individuals who we felt would likely engage in the fan-generated content, and have an interest in both the offer and the message of the campaign itself. The overall objective for the online campaign was to drive traffic to the dedicated micro-site and create user interaction with the site, particularly through the embedded contest.

The ability to place advertising within YouTube videos is a recent addition to the site’s marketing capabilities, and the integration of AdWords’ targeting and campaign management makes the resource all the more enticing for small and medium size businesses. But even though YouTube’s global reach (over 400 million visits a month) and appropriate target audience (36 percent of their users are between the ages of 18 and 34) added to its appeal, there were several challenges which gave us reason to pause.

We wondered if the geographic and content-based targeting we wanted to integrate into Hoagiefest would leave us with an audience so small, it would hardly be worth the trouble to manage the placement. The wild-and-wooly nature of the content on YouTube presented a challenge: how would we ensure that Wawa’s advertising didn’t wind up embedded in content that conflicted with their brand values?

In the end, there turned out to be plenty of YouTube users within our geographic target, and careful selection of category-specific filtering helped to ensure brand-appropriate placements. Careful monitoring of the campaign from the beginning of the launch allowed us to pinpoint any errant, inappropriate placements and exclude them individually from future rotation. The creative execution of the In-Video Overlays also stood apart from the rest of the advertisers in the field; by fully utilizing the Flash capabilities of the given ad space, the creative was eye-catching and enticing without being overly intrusive to the user.

Our YouTube placements have been a great success in helping us drive exposure and traffic to the site. Our Click-Through Rates have been 5 times higher than placements negotiated directly with premium publishers, at 1/5th the effective CPM. Compared to placements on AdWords in general, we achieved a 2,000 percent improvement in CTR with only a slight increase to CPM.

Overall, YouTube has been a very cost-effective outlet for us to utilize. It gives us excellent control and flexibility over the targeting and creative attributes of our campaigns, and is proving to be an invaluable new tool in our inventory.

With input from Ligja Saquing.

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