This is an interesting and strange group that came together on a recent case study. YuMe, ScanScout and BBE (recently purchased by Specific Media) combined their online video ad reach to help launch a new product. The product, HoodieBuddie, is being marketed only using in-stream video advertising. How’s that for a bold and innovative move?Back in August of this year the three video ad networks got together with Vizu, a technology platform that measures and optimizes the effectiveness of digital media branding campaigns in real time, and Poptent, a video production platform that offers marketers a cost effective way to obtain high quality videos for their online and offline marketing to do a case study on the efficacy (what a great word) and potential of using only online video for advertising and marketing to build a brand from the ground up. An admirable pursuit considering what we cover here at ReelSEO.

The target of the case study

Jerry Leigh Co. makes HoodieBuddie – a patent pending innovation and the first hooded sweatshirt to feature machine washable headphones integrated into the drawstrings and a built-in MP3/iPod connector in the pocket. That sounds like something I would totally be down with (Can I get a Superman shield hoodie for review purposes CEO Andrew? It would go great with my alter ego TheSuperGuido which I use while gaming), as I’m an avid hoodie wearer while in the office and sometimes outside. Personally, I hate having to untangle my headphones every time I want to use them and then put them in, pull them out, wind them up, unpack them, untangle them, etc. See, now I’ve got some brand awareness just be writing this article.

But, like usual, I digress. We’re here to talk about how effective this online-video-ad-only experiment went. Now, I did just talk about research and who should fund it for it to be 100% believable and without any conflict of interest. Oh wait, that article might not have published yet or I’m time traveling again. No, it that should be the recent Brightroll Publisher survey article.

Vizu found some interesting results, here’s a quick summary

  • 205% increase in brand awareness, which is significantly higher than the average 18.7% seen in comparable Vizu brand lift studies.
  • 76% increase in purchase intent, far exceeding the 12.1% lift that Vizu typically sees in campaigns of this nature
  • 62% increase in daily sales (when comparing pre-campaign sales to post-ad campaign sales)

Those are some fairly large numbers, especially the 205% increase in brand awareness. However, they don’t clearly state exactly what that entails. Is it brand recall as in “I saw a HoodieBuddie ad which I remember”or is it “Yeah I’ve heard of them”or maybe “Oh yeah, HoodieBuddie, they make hoodies with earphone and blah blah blah.” So I did some digging into Vizu’s Ad Catalyst and Brand Lift services.

Ad Catalyst goes beyond counting click-through rates (CTR) to measure how online ads impact viewer perceptions of key brand attributes. Brand lift, as measured by the Ad Catalyst service, offers a more relevant metric than CTR for brand building campaigns.

Ad Catalyst enables more holistic advertising assessment and ROI calculations by going beyond counting “clicks” to measure how online ads impact perception of standard brand attributes such as awareness, purchase intent, or more specific attributes like reliability, value, luxury, etc.

So I did yet more digging and got some info back from Vizu. What brand uplift is really is the difference between a control group who did not see the ads and the test group who did see the ads on whether or not they recall the brand or are familiar with it. Anyone else see a flaw in this logic? (I know this is widely used, it just seems silly to be sometimes, like when the brand is totally new and unadvertised)

If you don’t expose people to a new brand that has never been advertised, what is the likelihood that they will know it? Then, once you have exposed others to the brand via advertising, what is the chance that they might say “Gee, that sounds familiar…” Now I know this looks at whether or not the ads made a strong enough impression that people remember some portion of it, in particular the brand name, but really, what good is that in the long run? It’s rather vague overall methinks.

That would explain away the 205% vs. 18.7% that Vizu itself quoted as other brands they checked into, had probably already been advertising.

What kind of campaign worked?

Some dude who is not me, in my hoodie.

I recently linked to a report that said TV viewers preferred, or rather, paid more attention to 15-second commercials versus their longer counterparts. This online campaign found some interesting trends in that the 15-second pre-roll ad generally out-performed the 30-second spot in driving brand awareness, but the 30-second spot generally out-performed the 15-second video ad in increasing purchase intent. Oddly, counter-intuitive if you really think about it, then again, maybe not.

Viewers were also less fatigued by the ads, even after 10+ views. My take on that is since they’re not being inundated in print, radio, TV and online, they are probably much less exposed to the brand on the whole as opposed to a brand like say Honda, Coca-Cola or Nike.

“We are ecstatic over the successful launch of our HoodieBuddie line and were simply amazed that our partners were able to achieve such great success through the use of online video,” said Andrew Leigh, President of Jerry Leigh.  “This non-traditional approach was exactly what we needed to reach our target audience, and the experience has given me a new-found appreciation for what digital video can do.”

The experiment to launch an unknown consumer brand using nothing but in-stream video was conceived by ScanScout, YuMe and BBE, and was designed to showcase that the medium could be as effective as traditional broadcast media.  Jerry Leigh agreed not to utilize other forms of paid advertising in order to isolate the results generated from the video ads. In addition to pre-roll distribution, ScanScout’s Super Pre-Roll and Super Overlay along with YuMe’s custom Triple Play ad unit were utilized.

With no existing video assets available to launch HoodieBuddie, Poptent created 15- and 30-second pre-roll video ads through  crowdsourcing. The top 50 producers from Poptent’s network of 18,000 independent video creators were invited to submit their creative executions.  Jerry Leigh reviewed the many submissions and chose two video ads they felt were the most compelling and innovative.   The final ads can be seen online at

The Vizu Methodology

Vizu uses a concurrent test (exposed) and control methodology for measuring brand advertising effectiveness.  In this approach, the same question is asked of two groups of individuals that are identical except for the presence (or lack) of exposure to the advertising from the campaign being measured.  Since this is the only variable between the groups, the difference in how the groups respond to the question – Brand Lift –  can be safely and completely attributed to the ad campaign.  Survey responses are gathered evenly and randomly throughout the full campaign lifetime to ensure that the sample is free of any biases and is representative of the full campaign effect.  Vizu also recruits survey responses directly from the actual campaign audience ensuring that the sample is free of any panel-based biases.  Vizu’s technology platform ensures that the control and exposed groups are identical and that the measurement is conducted in the classical experimental design approach.

The Take Away

mmm... Chinese foodIn a vacuum, no one can hear you scream. Also in a vacuum no one can bombard you 24-7 with advertising. Well, theoretically. However, with well-targeted, specific marketing and without over-saturation which cause consumers to simply shut down and ignore the advertisements they see, you might do quite well for yourselves, especially if you use online video.

That is, in a nutshell, what I see as the take away here and I stress the might. The case study was very specific in that it was only online video advertising and it focused quite narrowly on that. But they failed to zoom out and look at the big picture which includes why they saw such great success with this campaign.Was it due to lack of buyer burnout because they hadn’t been inundated with ads for the brand? Was it due to the fact that almost no one knew about it before the campaign (that would certainly account for the astounding brand uplift)? Was it because the holiday season is coming up and it’s a good time to launch such a campaign as people begin considering what to get friends and family? Was it due in part to the weather turning cool in parts of the world and more people thinking ‘Gee, I could really use a new hoodie’ (mine is all raggedy personally and I could use a new one but I’ll wait until I get to the States for that)? I do agree though, those last couple variables would be specific to both groups and so might not affect brand uplift, but could affect intent to purchase, etc. I am not generally looking for a new hoodie in June as I live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Honestly, brand lift means very little to me in this case. I’m not completely discounting it, just hear me out.

They’re a completely new brand and so 205% of almost nothing is, well, thrice almost nothing (no offense Jerry Leigh Co and HoodieBuddie, just a fact).The graph from the case study says 6% (of some unknown number) had brand awareness in the control group, while 18.4% had it in the test group. Without knowing the sizes of the groups (which I would need to be rather large to make me a believer), it’s hard to know if that is 6 to 18 people out of 100 or 30 to 92 out of 500. I chose that latter set as the percentage is 18.4% and the lowest multiplier for a whole number is five, ergo 6*5 = 30 and then 18.4 * 5 = 92. Doesn’t sound all that sexy right? 92 out of 500 people had some familiarity with our brand.

If the company had never done any type of advertising for this particular brand in the past, then, however would people have known about it? So the 205% brand uplift is really sort of pointless to me. Now if they do this again next year and get similar results, then I’ll call it hard science because being able to duplicate your results is what science is driven by. Without duplication of results, it’s just a single data point and you can’t extrapolate much from that.

Those other two numbers, on the other hand, are interesting. 76% increase in people who had some intent to buy the product is pretty inspiring as is the 62% increase in daily sales.  We could apply my previous thought process to this as well as the actual percentage of

Proof I wear a non-revolutionary hoodie

intent increase was 75.8%. The control group was 11.2% and the test was 19.7%. So with a magic multiplier of 10 we get 112 and 197 for every thousand people. Extrapolate that out to the U.S. population and you’ve got 59.1M hoodie-wearing Americans. It’s a Hoodie revolution!

However, again, with no marketing prior to this, how would people have known about the product so that they could buy it and what were sales numbers like prior to the campaign?

Math time again folks. If they were selling 50 hoodies a month (maybe optimistic for an unadvertised brand) then the 62% increase would be an additional 31 hoodie sales per day, 11,315 per year, with an average price of $46 (they are $44 and $48) then it’s total additional sales of $520,490 per year. Yeah, that might pay for the ad campaign after overhead and manufacturing costs. Some basic research online told me that 56% should be the goal for fashion retail.  You do the math.

Maybe the real take away here is that the ad campaign managed to raise brand awareness and sales on a wholly new product and we just leave it at that. Without a quantification that hasn’t been duplicated the wording of the report looks dubious. See, I knew this scientific background I picked up at university would serve me well one day.  When we’ve got multiple data points and can account for all potential variables like time of year (autumn, gift-giving season), weather patterns (because you don’t think about hoodies when it’s 80 degrees, do you?), previous brand awareness and sales numbers, etc. Then, I would be more likely to call this a total success, or failure, depending on what the numbers show.

Either way, it was certainly a win for Jerry Leigh Co and their new HoodieBuddie brand (Congrats!). I might even try to get one when I return to the States or drop hints to the family for Christmas. A shame they don’t read my professional writings as they could have just crossed me off of their gift lists as complete.

The reason I do all these mental acrobatics and feats of mathematics are so that you, our loyal readers, are more educated when it comes to research reporting. Not only will it help you when you get results from a firm doing research on your business, but I think, it will make you all more savvy business people in the long run as you won’t be pulled in. When I was in the scientific sector we were taught how to report numbers so that they sounded wonderful whenever possible, without stretching the truth in any way.  Percentages are great for that, but not always necessary. For example , here’s one we all know, four out of five dentists recommend blah blah blah. Did you ever ask how many dentists they polled on that one, or why the one didn’t agree? Hopefully, moving forward, you will. We were also told that obtaining a set of results once is a fluke, more than once is science.

Also, I’m not implying anyone is lying or trying to pull the wool over your eyes. They’re just putting their company and product in the best light possible, which we can all relate to and can’t really fault them for.

Kung Pao! I’m out…

Odd side note: This article is longer than the case study and press release I received, combined…