EDF Energy recently scored a YouTube hit with its ‘recycled film footage’ ads – the first integrated campaign the firm had created.

One of its clips reached the site’s list of Top 20 most clicked on videos in its category, attracting more than 40,000 views. But although it helped generate awareness and feedback, it did not drive many referrals.

Here, head of brand advertising Rob Merrington tells us about what EDF learned from the campaign and the role digital will play as in the run up to its Olympics sponsorship in 2012.

EDF's YouTube ad - Save Today, Save Tomorrow


How big a role digital is playing in your brand advertising strategy?

The share of our spending that is taken by digital is going up. We previously would only appear on TV through broadcast sponsorship, but we are doing spot advertising now and we’ve just done our first integrated campaign.

In Q1, we have invested more in the digital side of that mix than we have ever done before and we’re trying to ensure that our messaging is the same across all channels.

The digital side offers us more granularity and closer targeting so that we hit specific audiences that we would like to hit. It’s a key channel from an acquisition perspective, and for getting our messages out.

Our competitors’ digital platforms are actually better than ours currently and we are working to improve that. We’re investing more in digital and we will continue to do so this year.


Which areas do you feel you could improve?

In terms of our own site, there is significant investment going on to improve that and make it much more of a self-service platform than we are currently able to offer. At the moment, it is a fairly static site and there is significant work needed to improve that.

With the position we are taking around sustainability, we would like our advertising to direct customers to a site where they can access the products and services we are offering more easily.


Can you tell us a bit about the ‘It ain’t easy being green’ campaign and what you were trying to achieve from a digital perspective?

This campaign was the first time we were looking to try out our brand positioning so we were looking to go much deeper than pure awareness.

The web enables us to target communities and groups that will be more receptive to our message. We are looking to make the mass audience aware of green issues and engage them, and then there are people that are more aware and proactive on green issues.

We are trying to connect with those groups and tell them we have the products and services to make it easier for them to take green decisions.

The green enthusiasts are probably the toughest nut to crack. You need to be careful and measured about not getting a cynical backlash.


How are you measuring the impact of the campaign?

Because this is new to our business and the first launch of our brand, there is an awful lot of work we can do on tracking and measurement. Some of it will come when we can start to trawl through historical data that is more than just a campaign-old.

There are a number of tools we can use to track whether our brand is getting any traction on blogs and social networks, and we are talking to our agencies to work out how effective they are.

Also, what we are trying to achieve is to get customers to cut their consumption by 15% by 2012 and save a ton of carbon. There is a clear call to action so we would be able to measure that through traditional cost per pledge, then see if we can cross and up-sell. 


As you gather more of that data, what kind of metrics do you expect to start using for integrated campaigns?

We’re measuring a number of key metrics throughout the year but I think that you can only start to measure specific campaign activity once you have a number under your belt.

To be honest, we’re cutting our data at a fairly high level, because this is our first campaign. It takes a number of activities before you can work out the interactions between different channels.

With our agency, we are looking at econometric modelling and things like that to try and understand the dynamics of each channel. The holy grail would be to see what percentage of traffic a 30 second TV spot drives to our site.

But that’s something we are looking to achieve after gathering 12 months-worth of data.


How did the YouTube clip help the campaign, in terms of generating pledges?

The YouTube side of the campaign was a bit of a spin-off, so the uptake took us a little bit by surprise. We were very happy with it and it’s great that we got that momentum. There were calls for us to release the song and we are looking into that.

But it’s not a top referring site for the micro-site we built for the campaign. In terms of pledges and uptake of products, we’re not seeing that come through. We’re not seeing people going to YouTube, clicking on the ad and then coming to the micro-site.

It helps us with general awareness and with feedback on the message we are trying to convey. They are a very savvy group on YouTube and if they think you are being a cynical corporate organisation, it doesn’t take them long to point that out. We’re not seeing that at this stage.

You can use YouTube almost as a barometer to see how people view your advertising.


Do you plan to add a URL to any future videos, to help generate more uplift?

I think we probably would. We need to consider whether we are seeing uplift and how we are measuring that. We would like to make it easier for people to understand what we are about as a business.


Do you expect to allocate more budget to viral marketing going forward?

We are looking at some viral opportunities, which are quite fertile ground and would allow us to communicate our messages around cutting carbon emissions. Also, energy prices are going up so how can you save money at the same time as a consumer? There is some work going on around that.

We’re looking to use some specialists for viral marketing, at the same time as using digital advertising to persuade more people to visit the website and make pledges.


What role do you expect digital to play in your 2012 sponsorship?

It will play a major role. The government wants to make the Games the most sustainable ever. Digital will play a major part in the channel mix in trying to get as many customers as we can to commit to reducing their carbon consumption.