Building Consumer Relationships with Video
The challenge for the people at MGS Communications,Toyota Scion’s Hispanic ad agency ofrecord, was to find a way to excite Scion ownersand potential owners about a series of Scionparties in southeast Florida. They knew they wanted touse online video to target a young Hispanic male demographic,but the rest they left in the hands of Gen2Media,a video technology company based in Orlando.
In December 2008, only 4 months after first discussingthe assignment and 2 months after starting work,Gen2Media had a rich, interactive Spanish- andEnglish-language site where people shared theirfavorite videos, contributed pictures of their ownScions, and signed up to learn more about upcomingevents. Scion was able to reach an enthusiastic fan baseand get a valuable list of hundreds of thousands ofpeople who were either Scion owners or were lookingto buy. Here’s how Gen2Media did it.
Video Building Blocks
While the people at MGS Communications hadn’tworked with Gen2Media before the Scion assignment,they knew the company’s reputation. Gen2Mediahad only been formed in 2007, 1 year before theScion assignment. But it had already attracted animpressive roster of clients such as Coke, Sprite, andmore than 200 radio stations (including Clear Channeland Salem Communications stations). Not bad for ayoung company with only 20 employees. The companyspecialized in reaching a young Hispanic audience.That was important to the people at MGS; they hadrun into problems on previous campaigns gettingSpanish to display correctly when using otherplatforms and knew that the Gen2Media platform wasalready optimized for Spanish. Gen2Media alsooffered far more than just video production, as it hadits own online video platform, significant site-buildingexperience, and an advertising network on its sitesthat reached a young Hispanic demographic. Alltogether, that convinced MGS Communications thatthis was the right company to work with. MGS neededa turnkey partner, one that could take the lead and puttogether a complicated assignment on its own.
One of Gen2Media’s first jobs was finding an idealhost who could tie the site all together. The producersat Gen2Media had already worked with a popular localDJ named DJ Quez, a host on Orlando’s Power 95.3 FM,on other projects. From the start they thought that he’dbe the perfect face for the campaign—someone to keepthe party going and humanize the message. Theylearned that he himself was a Scion owner, and he wasalready immersed in the customization culture.
The other crucial step in the early process wasdeciding what kind of videos to create for the site. Theproducers at Gen2Media have learned that whenyou’re looking to make videos for a select group, it’sbest to let that group tell you what it wants to learn.Don’t try to dictate the topics; instead, listen to whatthe group is already asking. For the Scion project, thatmeant researching search engine queries to discoverwhat people wanted to learn about Scion’s line. Theyquickly discovered a car customization culture, withScion enthusiasts eagerly searching out ways tomodify their own cars.
"We looked at a lot of the major keywords that peoplewere searching for as it relates to the Scion: ‘Scion tCreviews,’ ‘Scion tC parts.’ Anybody that’s searching forScion tC parts and Scion tC accessories, that tells us alot of the information that they’re looking for, and so weanswer that through the videos we created," says MarySpio, president of Gen2Media. "Whether it’s DJ Queztalking about the latest accessories for the Scion tC andall of that. Your customers are telling you what it is thatthey’re looking for, and so we just give it to them."
The Car and the Culture
For Spio, this assignment wasn’t about creating awebsite but creating a community; her team wasn’tjust providing information about Scion autos butoffering a viewpoint. She wanted the site to excite andeducate so that people would blog about what theyfound and interact with the content. If the site had atheme, it was the love of Scion. The carmaker wantedto communicate with its fans, to show that it knew theyfelt the Scion was more than a car—it’s a culture.
"These are powerful brand ambassadors, becausewe know that not only do they own the Scion but theyare also passionate about the car and the culture,finding out [anything] and everything they can do tocustomize their cars," says Spio.
During the campaign, this site was the hub of a socialnetwork for the Scion community. The idea was toreach them in a relevant way and to drive sales byfanning the passions of Scion enthusiasts. Videosshowed DJ Quez spinning, conducting interviews atthe Florida Scion events, and talking about Scioncustomizations. But not all the videos were about thecars; some touched on the "passion points" of thetypical Scion enthusiast including club events, carshows, reggaeton music, and new music acts. Videohelped make the site a lifestyle channel, going beyondwhat pictures and text could deliver. The site alsohyped the campaign’s big giveaway: a customizedScion, one completely made up from paint to rims.
The site’s URL was www.muevetescion.com, whichmeans "Scion moves you" in Spanish. (Don’t golooking for it now because the site was changed afterthe campaign ended.) While video was the backboneof the site, Gen2Media’s team built in a variety of waysfor people to interact with the content, to reallyengage with it. Visitors could view and share videos,as well as embed them on their own sites. They couldsign up to be notified of new content or to be toldabout new Scion events. They could even uploadphotos of their own customized Scion cars. At the startof the campaign, viewers were able to upload theirown videos as well, because Gen2Media’s online videoplatform is built to accept video submissions in avariety of formats. However, the people at Sciondecided to halt that area of the site. While videocreators were told to use music that they’d eithercreated or had the rights to, the team at Scion felt thatthere was too much of a risk that people would usecopyrighted songs. Soon after its launch, the videoupload area was removed and the already sharedvideos were taken down.
Muevetescion.com launched with about 10 videoscreated by Gen2Media’s in-house production team(and one made by Scion, showing the making of a"pimped out" car), all served with the company’sFlash-based video platform. Videos streamed at600Kbps variable bitrate, and the platform hadautomatic bandwidth detection to monitor thestrength of the connection and to adjust the rate asneeded. Interactive overlays let viewers registerwith the site or get info on the next party while thevideos were playing. Gen2Media’s team added morevideos weekly during the campaign’s 8-month run,creating a library of 150–200 videos by the time thecampaign ended, with most videos clocking in at 3minutes or less.
Spio can’t talk in specifics about Toyota’s costs for thecampaign. But she could say that keeping a campaignlike this running, with new video added regularly,would cost about $25,000 per month. Gen2Media alsooffers advertising across its network of sites, with a costper thousand rate of $15.
The site was designed to gather registrationinformation about viewers. And while Spio isn’t able toshare the number of registrants that Scion was lookingfor, she says that the site met the goal. Visitors to thesite registered so that they could get notifications offuture events, get party alerts, find out about newvideos, win the customized car, or get informationabout the brand. Registrants were texted newinformation weekly, but opt-outs were low, showingthat most of the people appreciated the informationthey were getting.
During registration, visitors indicated whether ornot they owned a Scion and if they were planning onbuying one in the next 12 months. They also gave theirdemographic information, so Toyota Scion could seehow many of them fell into the target range. Gettingthat list of motivated shoppers was valuable to thecarmaker as it builds a database of lifetime customers.Gen2Media also delivered video-viewing information(showing how much of each video was watched), gavedata on how often the videos were being embedded onother sites, and told how many viewers used the viraltools to recommend videos to their friends.
While the full 8-month campaign wasn’t cheap, Scionwas able to build relationships with its customers andpotential customers and get information from them—something it couldn’t do with 30-second televisionspots. It also gained a wealth of demographicinformation that it can use to create even more effectivemarketing in the future.