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Can You Sell Insurance on YouTube? [Study]

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Can a Fortune 300 insurance company be successful on YouTube? And can a full-service media agency with search marketing capabilities help this kind of client be successful in social media? Yes, they can. And their search and social media case study is the latest example of a connected marketing success story.

The Backstory

Headquartered in Madison, WI, American Family Insurance is a multi-line property and casualty insurance provider with auto, home, business and life products. Internally, the company was already utilizing YouTube Promoted Videos to highlight their videos at the top of YouTube search results – a great start to get more video views. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google (and fifth largest website in the world). Just like AdWords, Promoted Videos are auction-based and work off of keywords and contextual targeting in a cost-per-click format. This enabled American Family Insurance to get prominent placement in front of the audience they wanted to reach on YouTube. But they company wanted to improve performance and reached out to Mindshare’s search marketing team to implement some best practices.

Telisa Yancy, American Family Insurance’s Advertising Director, says, “The proliferation of media fragmentation, and the continued growth of consumer consumption of content within the social media hubs presents a challenge for most marketers. Mindshare stepped up to our challenge to help us expand reach by gaining more views on our brand channel and did it in an effective yet efficient way."

Danny Huynh, Mindshare’s Group Search Director, says, “In today’s world of social media, we were particularly interested in how we can apply our search savvy and data analytics to video. So when American Family Insurance came to us to help increase traffic to their YouTube Brand Channel, we took it as the perfect opportunity to find out.”

Campaign Execution

First, just like with any search campaign, Mindshare looked at which American Family Insurance video ads were performing the best. The agency discovered people weren’t searching for YouTube videos using broad terms such as “life insurance” or “car insurance.” Instead, they were discovering, watching, and sharing videos about “Identity theft,” particularly on social networking sites.

American Family Insurance YouTube Case Study

Ryan Pedersen, Associate Search Director says, “So, we put more budget behind keywords and video ads that spoke to this consumer concern. On top of this, we could also promote our videos to video categories such as Autos & Vehicles and only promote the videos to our target in the 19 states that American Family Insurance serves. We used this knowledge to refine our keyword and ad group criteria – connecting the right content to the audience who was looking for it.”

You can see an example of this content by watching “AmFam | ID Theft | Do you know who you are?

Secondly, just as search engine marketers would optimize a landing page, Mindshare looked at where to send people who clicked on a Promoted Video. Rather than driving users to individual watch pages to play the videos, Mindshare directed them to American Family Insurance’s Brand Channel page to watch the videos.

This strategy allowed viewers to watch other videos from American Family Insurance, subscribe to the company’s brand channel, or take other actions such as visit the company’s website. All these actions enriched the American Family Insurance brand experience better than an individual watch page would.

Finally, video advertising on YouTube provided Mindshare with access to YouTube Insight, a self-service analytics and reporting tool. This tool lets anyone with a YouTube account view detailed statistics about their audience for the videos they upload to the site – and to make adjustments as needed. Using YouTube Insight, Mindshare learned people were watching videos on their mobile phones – which they’re definitely taking into consideration for future campaigns.

There were two significant results of this effort.

First, video views and organic traffic to American Family Insurance’s brand channel dramatically increased from 5,967 in October 2010 to 44,467 in January 2011. This was achieved at the same budget as before by lowering the average cost-per-click (CPC) from $2.11 to $0.92.

Second, American Family Insurance reached prospective customers earlier in the consideration cycle – a necessary strategy when you are competing national insurance companies with much larger advertising budgets.

As search engine marketers, Mindshare found other takeaways to be invaluable:

  • There’s a huge audience that’s searching and browsing for information on YouTube, and search engine marketers have a pivotal role to play in taking advantage of this resource.
  • Mindshare applied its data analytics skill set to a new area of marketing – video, one of the fastest-growing formats online.
  • Search engine marketers can also support their colleagues in display media planning by honing in on keywords and categories that perform the best in video.
  • Using the “Hot Spots” feature in YouTube Insights, Mindshare’s search team found they can feed research with demographic and engagement insights and help their creative team understand who’s watching which videos and when.

The full potential is still untapped. Expanding the role of search on YouTube proved extremely successful for American Family Insurance, but they are just one example of many more to come.


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