The challenge for the people at MGS Communications, Toyota Scion’s Hispanic ad agency of record, was to find a way to excite Scion owners and potential owners about a series of Scion parties in southeast Florida. They knew they wanted to use 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 four months after first discussing the assignment and two months after starting work, Gen2Media had a rich, interactive Spanish and English language site where people shared their favorite videos, contributed pictures of their own Scions, and signed up to learn more about upcoming events. Scion was able to reach an enthusiastic fan base and get a valuable list of hundreds of thousands of people who were either Scion owners or were looking to buy. Here’s how Gen2Media did it.
Video Building Blocks
While the people at MGS Communications hadn’t worked with Gen2Media before the Scion assignment, they knew the company’s reputation. Gen2Media had only been formed in 2007, one year before the Scion assignment, but it had already attracted an impressive roster of clients such as Coke, Sprite, and over 200 radio stations (including Clear Channel and Salem Communications stations). Not bad for a young company with only 20 employees. The company specialized in reaching a young Hispanic audience and that was important to the people at MGS; they had run into problems on previous campaigns getting Spanish to display correctly when using other platforms, and knew that the Gen2Media platform was already optimized for Spanish. Gen2Media also offered far more than just video production, as it had its own online video platform, significant site building experience, and an advertising network on its sites that reached a young Hispanic demographic. All together, that convinced MGS Communications that this was the right company to work with. MGS needed a turnkey partner, one that could take the lead and put together a complicated assignment on its own.
One of Gen2Media’s first jobs was finding an ideal host who could tie the site all together. The producers at Gen2Media had already worked with a popular local DJ named DJ Quez, a host on Orlando’s Power 95.3 FM, on other projects. From the start they thought that he’d be the perfect face for the campaign, someone to keep the party going and humanize the message. While they looked at a range of possible hosts, they quickly settled on DJ Quez. In the process, they learned that he himself was a Scion owner, and he was already immersed in the customization culture.
The other crucial step in the early process was deciding what kind of videos to create for the site. The producers at Gen2Media have learned that when you’re looking to make videos for a select group, it’s best to let that group tell you what it wants to learn. Don’t try to dictate the topics; instead, listen to what the group is already asking. For the Scion project, that meant researching search engine queries to discover what people wanted to learn about Scion’s line. They quickly discovered a car customization culture, with Scion enthusiasts eagerly searching out ways to modify their own cars.
“We looked at a lot of the major keywords that people were searching for as it relates to the Scion: “Scion tC reviews,” “Scion tC parts.” Anybody that’s searching for Scion tC parts and Scion tC accessories, that tells us a lot of the information that they’re looking for and so we answer that through the videos we created. Whether it’s DJ Quez talking about the latest accessories for the Scion tC and all of that. Your customers are telling you what it is that they’re looking for, and so we just give it to them,” said Mary Spio, Gen2Media’s president.
The Car and the Culture
For Spio, this assignment wasn’t about creating a Web site, but creating a community; and her team wasn’t just providing information about Scion autos, but providing a viewpoint. She wanted the site to excite and educate, so that people would blog about what they found and interact with the content. If the site had a theme, it was the love of Scion. The car maker wanted to communicate with its fans, to show that it knew how they felt about their Scions, that this was more than a car but a culture.
“These are powerful brand ambassadors, because we know that not only do they own the Scion but they are also passionate about the car and the culture, finding out any- and everything they can do to customize their cars,” says Spio.
During the campaign, this site was the hub of a social network for the Scion community. The idea was to reach them in a relevant way and to drive sales by fanning the passions of Scion enthusiasts. Videos showed DJ Quez spinning, conducting interviews at the Florida Scion events, and talking about Scion customizations. But not all videos were about the cars: some touched on the “passion points” of the typical Scion enthusiast including club events, car shows, reggaeton music, and new music acts. Video helped make the site a lifestyle channel, going beyond what pictures and text could deliver. The site also hyped the campaign’s big give-away: a customized Scion, one completely made up from paint to rims.
The site was at muevetescion.com, which means “Scion moves you” in Spanish. (Don’t go looking for it now, because the site was changed after the campaign ended.) While video was the backbone of the site, Gen2Media’s team built in a variety of ways for people to interact with the content, to really engage with it. They could view and share videos, as well as embed them on their own sites. They could sign up to be notified of new content or to be told about new Scion events. They could even upload photos of their own customized Scion cars. At the start of the campaign, viewers were able to upload their own videos, as well, since Gen2Media’s online video platform is built to accept video submissions in a variety of formats. However, the people at Scion decided to halt that area of the site. While video creators were told to use music that they’d either created or had the rights to, the team as Scion felt that there was too much of a risk that people would use copyrighted songs. Soon after launch the video upload area was removed and the already shared videos were taken down.
Muevetescion.com launched with around ten videos created 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’s Flash-based video platform. Videos streamed at 600kbps VBR, and the platform had automatic bandwidth detection to monitor the strength of the connection and adjust the rate. Interactive overlays let viewers register with the site or get info on the next party while the videos were playing. Gen2Media’s team added more videos weekly during the campaign’s eight month run, creating a library of 150 to 200 videos by the time the campaign ended, with most videos clocking in at three minutes or less.
Spio can’t talk in specifics about Toyota’s costs for the campaign, but could say that keeping a campaign like this running, with new video added regularly, costs about $25,000 per month. Gen2Media also offers advertising across its network of sites, with a CPM rate of $15.
The site was designed to gather registration information on viewers, and while Spio isn’t able to share the number of registrants that Scion was looking for, she notes that the site met the goal. Visitors to the site registered so that they could get notifications of future events, get party alerts, find out about new videos, win the customized car, or get information about the brand. Registrants were texted new information weekly, but opt-outs were low, showing that most of people appreciated the information they were getting.
During registration, visitors indicated whether or not they owned a Scion and if they were planning on buying one in the next 12 months. They also gave their demographic information, so Toyota Scion could see how many of them fell into the target range. Getting that list of motivated shoppers was valuable to the car maker as it builds a database of lifetime customers. Gen2Media also delivered video viewing information (showing how much of each video was watched), gave data on how often the videos were being embedded on other sites, and told how many viewers used the viral tools to recommend videos to their friends.
While the full eight month campaign wasn’t cheap, Scion was able to build relationships with its customers and potential customers, and get information from them—something it couldn’t do with 30-second television spots. It also gained a wealth of demographic information that it can use to create even more effective marketing in the future.