SOLUTION AT A GLANCE

CHALLENGE:To amplify brand engagement of the Shell Eco-marathon Americas event through display advertising.

 

SOLUTION: Stream behind-the-scenes video footage into display ads, and update the interactive content each day to reflect event highlights.

 

RESULT: Exceeded expectations with 3x CTR, 4x average video play time, and +35% interaction rate vs. industry average.

Background

Shell kicked off the eighth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition in 2013 on the streets of downtown Houston, aiming to share the excitement around the event with as broad of an audience as possible both locally and nationally.

The event was a competition for students to design, build, and test the most energy-efficient vehicles using a range of energy sources.  In the last Americas competition, nearly 110 teams from Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States participated.

The overarching purpose of the event was to bring the community together, to encourage the next generation of young engineers, and to help Shell stay connected to environmental challenges facing energy.  

Challenge

In prior Eco-marathons, the promotional outreach was mainly national. But recently, Shell shifted the event location from isolated motorsports tracks to major city-center venues. With this change came crucial questions about how to best drive awareness about the event.

One of the top campaign goals was to extend the event’s content marketing to local audiences in order to increase live attendance. Shell wanted to share a variety of videos, including behind-the-scenes documentaries with online audiences in a scalable, cost-effective way, and keep the content fresh and exciting enough to drive live attendance.

Shell partnered with Flite and a|muse, Hearst’s in-house digital agency, to develop a display advertising campaign that would deliver on these objectives.

Solution

Shell knew that the event would generate large amounts of brand content, especially in the form of behind-the-scenes documentary videos about the student teams. The brand wanted a way to share the most up-to-date and exciting video content with new audiences around the web, rather than being limited to reaching people who were physically attending the event.

The plan was for Shell to compile the best video footage each day of the Eco-marathon, then provide the assets to a|muse, who would stream these videos into live ad units using the Flite Platform. The Flite Platform would allow the team to immediately alter the existing ad placements with fresh content as it came in.  This ensured that repeat visitors to Chron.com, the site where the ad was running, would have new videos to watch if served the same ad.

Shell updated their display ads once or twice a day over the course of the three-day event. This speed and flexibility would not have been possible if they had to build and traffic ads from scratch per a traditional ad creation process; it would have taken up to 24-48 hours to assemble new creative, generate ad tags, and publish.

With Flite, it took just five minutes to tweak the ads and have them appear live before Chron.com visitors. The ease and flexibility of the Flite Platform empowered Shell and a|muse to streamline making regular updates to a live campaign.

Results

The interactive ad enjoyed incredible results. It ran with 3.3 million impressions and had three times the clickthrough rate (CTR) of Chron.com’s other rich media units (0.25% versus .08%, respectively).

The Flite Platform also tracked detailed engagement metrics for the ad, including an average view time of 41 seconds for videos (4x the industry average) and an interaction rate of 4.6% (35% above the industry average).

With the Flite Platform, Shell was able to use real-time updates to showcase their best brand content and drive outstanding results throughout the life of the Eco-marathon campaign.

“The ability to optimize ads even after a campaign had gone live was a huge win. It gave us increased transparency into what audiences found engaging and helped us deliver fresh and interactive content.”

- Ignacio Gonzalez, Shell Eco-marathon Americas, General Manager

Source: DoubleClick Rich Media Gallery Display Benchmarks, US market, March 2013. Data includes all verticals, sizes, and formats.

Interaction rate defined as an event in which a user directly interacts with an ad (i.e. a user-initiated event). Some common examples of interactions are hovers, clickthroughs, scrolls, shares and video plays.