Jeff Ekblad, Senior Director of Performance Marketing, Sweetwater
Working on ramping up your advertising efforts on YouTube? Research the topic for just a few minutes and you're likely to discover dozens of articles on unlocking the power of YouTube for your brand. Great creative format, solid targeting options, and massive (and ever-growing) reach. Seems easy right? When rubber meets road, what most advertisers quickly find is that the challenges lie in the nuance of how your specific business thinks about goals for marketing spend. Video is a great solution for branding advertisers, but what about performance? What do you do if you’re already a mature advertiser in other channels? Does layering on another stack of ads really make a difference? And what about the creative? Is your ideal video asset one that works to build your brand, or one that tries to drive the user to a conversion?
If you’re not familiar, Sweetwater is a musical instrument retailer serving musicians since 1979. Since it was started out of the back of a VW bus, there has always been a massive focus on delivering excellent customer service to our fellow musicians. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this philosophy more than the 500+ musicians we employ (our sales engineers) with the sole focus of helping shoppers make the right gear purchases for their individual needs. Music gear is a fascinating category, with purchases ranging from a quick $50 accessory to a well-researched $5,000+ purchase and beyond. We believe having an expert to talk to is invaluable whether you’re buying your child their first guitar, or if you’re upgrading to a several thousand-dollar audio interface to power your studio. Sweetwater sales engineers are paired 1-1 with customers, so you can be confident the person you're working with understands your unique musical goals and gear setup.
For Sweetwater, search has been an extremely powerful tool for driving intent-based traffic to our site, but is lacking in the ability to differentiate our brand. We can more easily convey the passion, expertise, and value we bring to a musician's shopping experience with a 15-second video than we ever could in a product listing ad (PLA) or text ad. As a retailer, this becomes even more important as that item a shopper has their eye on can cost the same amount from your company as it does from every other shop vying for that customer's business.
At the moment, there is very little in a search ad format that allows us to communicate the additional value that shopping with Sweetwater brings and what that means for the consumer. For example, while other retailers do not unbox and re-inspect guitars to make sure they are ready to ship customers, Sweetwater individually photographs & serializes every guitar over $300. This means if you’re shopping guitars with a flamed maple top, you can be 100 percent certain the guitar you put in your cart is the guitar that shows up on your door - down to the ounce, finish, and serial number.
Our site communicates the value of these things, but that purchase decision is commonly made before the user even arrives at your site. So the focus turns to pushing the message of that added value to the user before the crucial decision is made where are they going to purchase this instrument? YouTube lets you do all those things giving your brand the power to tap into that decision making moment, turning attention into action. Now how can you prove it in the numbers?
“Sweetwater sales engineers are paired 1-1 with customers, so you can be confident the person you're working with understands your unique musical goals and gear setup”
A pivotal point for our validation of YouTube came from the introduction of two critical components Data Driven Attribution (DDA) via Campaign Manager and regular Conversion Lift studies. DDA takes all the various touchpoints along a customer's journey and distributes the resulting revenue among them - with certain touchpoints taking home a larger share of the pie than others based on their perceived contribution. With significant investment across multiple advertising platforms, Sweetwater needed to lean on Campaign Manager 360s capabilities to bring all the spend and resulting performance under a single view of attribution. With revenue housed in a single de-duplicated location, and distributed across the touchpoints using machine learning, we gained a much more realistic view of the value specifically being generated by our video efforts.
While DDA showed that our retargeting effort was driving strong ROI, we still needed to know if the revenue was truly incremental. With Conversion Lift tests, our team observed how much incremental revenue was driven by the customers who saw the ad vs. the holdout group who did not see the video ad. Assessing the degree of incrementality (iCOS, iROAS) also helped our team validate the DDA numbers being credited to video efforts.
There are several key elements to keep in mind when looking to harness the power of YouTube be a brand with something valuable to say to their customers, with enough customers to scale spend to a meaningful number, and a holistic measurement plan to understand the impact to your stack. What kind of value can you see from this? One way to look at this is that the media pays for itself and gives your brand the chance to say something meaningful - all while increasing revenue. Putting some numbers around that 12.95x iROAS with a 6 percent lift in conversion value, and 3 percent lift in conversions. Thanks to a solid 5-figure media investment over the course of a month, the group of customers viewing the ad ultimately drove a higher AOV and purchased at a greater rate than those who didn't. Video has been the future for a long time, and has come a long way in helping Sweetwater drive sales overnight.