New Report Looks Under Hood Of Motor Industry

New report looks under hood of motor industry.

We recently released a new white paper which looked at the state of social video advertising in the autos industry.

Entitled Stuck in First Gear?: The State of Automobile Marketing in Social Video, it found that when it comes to social video, some auto brands are simply being left at the start line. It found that while year-on-year shares of the top 50 car ads grew by 121% in 2012, the overall ads market has increased by a massive 535%.

This means there is a huge opportunity for visionary auto brands to break through the traditional marketing model and create deeper creative engagement and word-of-mouth recommendations.

However, while some brands are not embracing the opportunity to upset the traditional marketing model and invest more in a format that delivers engaged audiences and creates earned media, some are seizing the chance.

While the automobile industry trails other verticals when it comes to social video, the number of autos video shares across the social web increased by 147.3% between June 2011 to June 2012 (Figure 1).

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This was due to two reasons. Firstly, there is a growing trend of social media users who are actively searching for content to share with their peers, colleagues and friends. As you can see from the graph below (Figure 2), this rise far exceeds the rise in social media users.

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Secondly, it shows that more and more brands are investing larger shares of budget and time in a format that delivers engaged audiences, starts authentic conversations and creates opportunities for advocacy and earned media.

However, which autos brands are leading the way? Well, looking at our report, unsurprisingly, mass market brands dominate, claiming 90.6% of the total video shares globally.

The top seven brands are:

1. Volkswagen – 25.7% (top ad: The Force)

2. Kia (21.6%) – (top ad: Kia Soul Hamster Party Rock)

3. Chevrolet – 15.3% (top ad: OK Go’s Needing/Getting)

4. Nissan – 10.5% (top ad: Poneis Malditos)

5. Honda – 5.7% (top ad: Matthew’s Day Off)

6. Fiat – 4.1% (top ad: Seduction)

7. BMW – 4% (top ad: 1M Walls)

While it is to be expected that mass market brands invest more in disseminating content among a broader audience, luxury brands are and should be starting to invest in content which sparks conversations that drives sales within niche environments.

We are already starting to see signs that luxury brands starting to take social video seriously. BMW’s M5 Bullet is a prime example of how branded online video content specifically created for high-end buyers can be successful.

This one video alone accounts for almost half (45.5%) of the manufacturer’s total video shares and is the eighth most successful automotive video from July 2011 to June 2012. BMW appears three times in the top 20 most shared automotive video campaigns, demonstrating how some luxury brands are getting social video right.

But what are the brands at the top doing right? Let’s look at the number one brand, Volkswagen, in more detail:

Volkswagen leads the way

Brands wanting evidence of how important the Super Bowl is in driving sharing activity across the social web need only look at Volkswagen’s most successful video campaigns (Figure 3).

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Leading the way is The Force, launched a week before Super Bowl 2011, with 39.8% of the shares during July 2011 to June 2012, closely followed by Super Bowl 2012’s The Bark Side (39.5%) and The Dog Strikes Back (12.8%).

Using the Super Bowl as a launch pad for your social video campaigns makes sense. Firstly, the so-called ‘Biggest Show On Earth’ generates a lot of social media activity. During this year’s spectacle, between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, a record-breaking 12,233 tweets were sent every second.

Secondly, a large proportion of people only watch the big game for the ads. They look forward to watching them, discuss them with their colleagues at work the next day and even actively search for them online.

So it is no surprise that when you look at the volume of shares that autos ads attract, the biggest peak (24% of total auto shares) occurs around February (Figure 4). The other peak is the VMAs.

The chart also demonstrates that in July and November 2011, and in January, March, April and May 2012, shares of automotive ads lingered well below the 400,000 mark.

This conversational vacuum within the sector provide an opportunity for brands prepared to think beyond the Super Bowl to engage consumers and amplify their brand with minimal competition for their attention.

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But what made Volkswagen’s ads stand out from the rest? Well, recent research  carried out by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science (June 2012) has found the number of shares a video attracts – commercial or not – is linked to the strength of emotion it elicits from its viewers. The stronger the emotion, the more likely it is going to be shared.

Unsurprisingly, when Unruly ran a survey of the top autos videos, all three VW ads scored very highly for key content triggers ‘funny’, ‘cute’ and ‘cool’. No doubt, they also benefitted from the galactic success of Star Wars. Indeed, while timing and support from TV can help amplify an ad’s success, creating online content which elicits strong emotions from its viewers is also crucial.

The average automotive ad is failing to elicit high intensity emotions from its target audience. This is a problem for automotive brands wanting to drive conversation because videos that provoke a strong emotional response are 2x more likely to be shared than those that provoke a weak emotional response, according to research conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. In fact, videos that elicit High Arousal Positive emotions are shared 30% more than those that elicit any other emotional response.

You only need to look at this year’s Super Bowl to see how. Buoyed by the success of The Force the previous year, VW followed it up with two more Star Wars-themed commercials at Super Bowl XLVI. But rather than screen both during the big game, like they had the previous year (The Force and Beetle), they decided to tease their main ad, The Dog Strikes Back, with a shorter video, The Bark Side, released a week-and-a-half prior to the big kick-off.

Interestingly, while the Dog Strikes Back, generated more shares in February, in the immediate afterglow of the Super Bowl (245,072 v 174,840 for The Bark Side), it is the Bark Side (1.12million) that has since endured, generating the second most shares of any ad launched around Super Bowl 2012, almost three times more than The Dog Strikes Back (393,111).

When it was tested, The Bark Side scored higher for humour and cuteness than The Dog Strikes Back.

In other words, content is still king (just in case you still needed convincing), and autos brands who embrace this will have a far better chance of dominating the social video market.

Unruly is now running biometric tests designed to measure people’s emotions while watching ads. It believes it can help brands know how shareable a piece of video content is before it is even launched.

You can see some of the findings in the report here.