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Q&A: Jude Brooks, interactive manager, Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola made significant investment in video and social media during its Olympics marketing campaign and this content-led approach now plays a major role in its digital strategy.
In the first of this two-part interview, Jude Brooks, Coca-Cola interactive manager, talked to new media age about the move to a content-driven strategy, how it has manifested itself so far and how success is measured.
What inspired the move towards a more content-driven strategy?
The move has come about predominantly due to the technological changes and the rise of social media, but telling stories has always been the Coca-Cola way. What’s changing is that those stories, rather than being exclusively interruptive, above-the-line TV-type ads, now includes putting content into places where people are.
We tend to call it ‘liquid and linked’ internally. It was introduced by one of the senior Atlanta team at Cannes last year. The thinking is all our content should be both these things. Liquid in that it is able to travel, so it should be interesting content that people want to share, and Linked because it has to connect back to the brand. Obviously we all love watching videos of cats but they don’t necessarily sell Coca-Cola’s message.
Do you have any examples of how you’ve applied this approach?
The biggest campaign we’ve applied it to from a GB perspective would be our Olympics campaign. It was all about connecting young people through music and sport. There were various different components of the campaign which we called ‘moments’. It started off with Mark Ronson, so the content strategy around him was a lot of little small videos, which told the story of how he had travelled the world recording the sounds of sport.
Each video brought to life a different athlete. We held the content within our own channel on YouTube, but third parties were also able to support it in an earned sense and we put money behind it in a paid sense. We pooled it from YouTube into Coke Zone, so from an owned perspective it was all very much about driving content.
The same idea of music and sport continued through into what we called our ‘moment four’, the Olympic Torch Relay. We tied up with 14 or 15 different artists, including Labyrinth, Emeli Sande and Wretch 32. As part of that an artist played every night of the relay in a different town, we videoed that content and produced concise 90 second pieces that brought to life that artist and that element of the Olympic Torch Relay. We housed those on YouTube, we generally always house things on YouTube, and got huge volumes of traffic. We got nearly 4m views and 4,500 Likes for the webisodes.
How important a role does video play as part of this strategy?
Video is a really important part of the mix, and on the Olympics campaign it was a huge part of what we did. We felt very much that having invested in securing the assets and artists that we had, the best way to bring them to life was to let people listen to them, so that required us to have video. We have found that images perform incredibly well for us as well.
Content is a funny word as it can mean anything and everything. Content on Facebook could be a poll. It’s often interpreted as meaning video but it shouldn’t have to be. Video is really important because it allows us to deliver a more immersive experience but I think depending on where you are placing content, different formats work.
Our experience, and indeed Facebook would back this up, is that images generate a much greater response rate than copy does, but polls illicit a great response as well. The interesting thing is that an organisation like Coke generally has the budget to be able to produce video but smaller companies can’t necessarily produce high quality and high volumes of video, but what’s interesting is that it should be about topical interesting content, which could be photos, words or polls.
How do you look to measure success?
It varies enormously depending on the campaign. In the majority of cases we are seeking to drive engagement with our brand because that leads to increased brand love. That ultimately leads to higher propensity to buy and increased purchase. We don’t in any way attempt to measure the number of video views compared to the number of cans purchased because that would be impossible.
Success is typically measured across five key metrics: impressions, expressions, engagement rate, data capture and brand love.
Campaigns will use one, two, three or more of those, but it varies depending on the brand and the campaign.
What impact do other digital channels have on your strategy?
Social has a huge impact, as it is one of the biggest ways of getting content ‘socialised’. We follow the owned, earned, share and paid media mix, so the role of social fits into all of those.
From a paid perspective we have invested and will continue to invest heavily in Facebook advertising, particularly for the Olympics but across the portfolio we have invested in it to drive views of content from existing fans and friends of fans and more broadly in the target audience.
From an owned perspective social plays a huge role. On Coca-Cola for example we’ve a global Facebook page, but of the 50m+ global fans, 2.1m are from Great Britain, so we can seed content out to them and we very much have a fans-first approach.
From an earned perspective it is massive too, particularly within our PR strategy, and the way we use Twitter to get content out, and the use of hashtags to drive discovery of new content.
And then shared for us relates to our partners, so for example we have a close relationship with McDonald’s and the Merlin Group [which owns Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park]. So on our Fanta brand, for example, we may work very closely with Alton Towers to produce content at their parks which is then seeded across both their and our Facebook pages.
What role does search play in this mix now?
Search is very interesting. It is absolutely fundamental that the content you produce is found and clearly search has a massive role in how findable your content is, whether that’s organic or paid search. From a findability perspective social is actually playing a much greater role though. Twitter for me is about discovery and exploration.
I think people are as likely to discover things through social channels as they are if they go looking for it. Search should still underpin all campaigns, and there is an organic and a paid requirement, but I think different campaigns and tactics have higher or lower requirements of search.
If you’ve just got a piece of video content I think it’s more important that it is socially found and seeded rather than making people go searching for it.