Like TV, The Value Is No Longer Black and White
Over the past few years, “advertainment” campaigns, such as the legendary Red Bull-sponsored space jump, have grown in frequency and popularity among advertisers. In a literal sense, “advertainment” is a portmanteau of the words “advertising” and “entertainment.” In industry, advertainment is an advertising strategy that employs the use of different forms of entertainment to promote brands, products, and services to consumers.
Brands and agencies strive to create content that will resonate with a target market. The real challenge, then, is to create content with which consumers in that market actually want to engage. Content that is fresh, interesting, and memorable — and, most importantly, enjoyable to consume — is the aim. When everything lines up in your favor, consumers share that content online with their friends on a massive scale.
Although a high-wire balance from the creative perspective, advertainment sounds fairly easy to evaluate, right? Many brands and agencies track the hashtag associated with a particular campaign and measure other web activity such as impressions and click-throughs. But, by focusing on aspects of the “owned” advertainment, they fail to measure the magnitude of lift or quality of conversation in their earned media around brand perception. I’ll show through an analysis of Save the World that Old Spice can learn about the success of its innovative campaign when it looks at the brand itself.
As an up-and-coming advertising strategy, advertainment presents a fun, new territory to explore with unique analysis methodologies. How can we justify the marketing investment of advertainment? With social media, we have the opportunity to uncover the real impact of our advertising efforts—however deeply buried in qualitative data that impact may be.
Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice brand is considered a trailblazer in its development of fresh, memorable marketing content for its target male audience. In particular, they have made huge strides in the area of digital advertainment.
Promoting the Champion product line, Old Spice created a retro 8-bit video game, Dikembe Mutombo’s 4½ Weeks to Save the World, where users play the game’s eponymous hero, retired NBA star, Dikembe Mutombo, on a mission to save the world. During gameplay, users earn points by completing bizarre tasks, which will prolong the prophesized apocalypse. The game was free to play and featured a serialized release of five levels of play throughout the month of December.
Here, advertainment takes the form of a branded video game and presents us with an interesting opportunity for an ROI assessment.
As a first step, we established a brand baseline by analyzing online conversation about Old Spice in the weeks prior to the campaign launch. Using the Crimson Hexagon ForSight™ platform, we performed contextual analysis of over 4,300 consumer opinions and segmented the conversation into several distinct categories.
Interestingly, the largest driver of Old Spice conversation is not product-related; rather, nearly half of consumers talking about Old Spice demonstrate their affinity for specific advertising campaigns.
In addition, positive product experience and satisfaction with Old Spice (26%) outweighs product criticism (12%) as a proportion of the total conversation. And when we dive into the corpus of criticism, we find that this sentiment stems from bystander displeasure with the pungent odor of Old Spice products worn by others—not from Old Spice’s actual customers.
With this baseline in mind, let’s now evaluate the Save the World campaign.
The graph below indicates when each of the five levels became available. Notice how the dimensions of conversation shift over the life of the campaign:
We found that consumer engagement with Old Spice’s Save the World was highest mid-campaign. In fact, tweets about playing the game account for over 50% of the entire conversation eight days in a row after the release of level three on December 3. This sentiment peaks to 58% on December 9, one day prior to the level four release.
After three weeks, however, we find consumers reveal signs of fatigue and reduced interest in gameplay activity; on the day of the final release (December 17), the proportion of conversation associated with gameplay dropped to 9%.
In place of conversation about gameplay, the proportion of conversation regarding the ingenuity of the campaign rose during the later stages of the game’s availability. This sentiment grows considerably over time reaching 18% on December 19th. This growth tells us that even though consumers seem to have a declined interest in playing Save the World, they are nevertheless impressed by the fact that Old Spice continues to release fun, new content.
Are there any other outcomes we can measure that are invisible in the context of this analysis?
What if we look outside the scope of consumer reactions to the advertainment itself?
Let’s revisit our brand-level analysis of Old Spice.
First, the basics: volume of discussion. We find that Old Spice brand discussion more than doubled in volume from November 21 to December 21 during the life of the campaign. Volume is, of course, interesting, but it doesn’t really tell us anything about the texture of conversation taking place online.
When we drill down into the detailed opinion analysis—this time during the life of Save the World—we find campaign engagement eclipsed 95% of total Old Spice discussion after levels two and five became available.
After the conclusion of the campaign (and prophesized Mayan apocalypse) the real impact of the advertainment surfaces: Old Spice product use discussions grew to over 55% at the end of December and 48% in January. More than doubling in its proportionality from the month prior, Old Spice successfully rekindled many new product-related discussions with this campaign.
Basic volumetrics and hashtag tracking would not have arrived at this result. In this case, a noteworthy return did not emerge until we performed contextual analysis of online consumer opinion on both the campaign and brand-levels.
The next time you consider developing an advertainment campaign, think about what KPI matters most to you. Is it purchase intent? Is it gameplay? Or are you interested in measuring the amount of goodwill you generated from your marketing effort? Whatever you choose, make sure you have the right toolset in place to measure the nuanced returns in earned media.
Does your content successfully bridge advertising and entertainment?
If you’d like to learn more about our work around brand affinity, follow us on Twitter @crimsonhexagon!