YouTube Case Study: Ceilume’s “Ask the Ceiling Tile Guy”


I’m always looking for a new YouTube case study. I consume YouTube case studies the way other people consume Lay’s potato chips (“betcha can’t eat just one”). And I’ve just devoured the “Ask the Ceiling Tile Guy” videos on Ceilume’s channel.

Headquartered in Graton, California, Ceilume manufactures decorative ceiling tiles that are used in homes, offices, stores, schools, and hotels around the globe. Founded in the 1950s, the family-owned small business now has 30 employees.

Ceilume tiles have received ICC-ES recognition, which means they meet the 2006 and 2009 IBC (International Building Code) requirements. In addition, Ceilume’s vinyl ceiling tiles are GREENGUARD Certified for indoor air quality, Class A Fire Rated, and 100 percent locally recyclable.

In 2007, Ceilume purchased Ceilings Magnifique, one of the most respected names in historic decorative ceilings. In 2009, the company opened the country’s first ceiling tile showroom in Windsor, California.

Ed Davis, President of Ceilume, recognized the power of online marketing five years ago and signed up for Google AdWords in 2006. Although the company used to run a lot of newspaper and magazine ads, Davis says, “At least 90 percent of our marketing budget currently goes towards online advertising.”

Ceilume’s YouTube channel was created on April 25, 2008, and the first video, “Ceiling Tiles – How to Replace,” introduced Davis as the “Ask the Ceiling Tile Guy.” Uploaded on June 16, 2009, the video now has more than 57,000 views.

The most viewed video on the channel is “Can I Afford a Coffered Ceiling?” Uploaded on Nov. 6, 2009, it now has more than 226,000 views.

Ceilume’s videos educate viewers about ceiling tile best practices and they all feature actual installation photos. Combined, the 17 videos on Ceilume’s channel have more than 900,000 total upload views.

“Before YouTube, we never would have tried to create these videos and place them online to tell our story,” Davis said.

Ceilume’s target audiences are do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) and small contractors who want to use eco-friendly products. And Davis saw huge sales potential in offering free shipping and an easy purchase process online.

The company began with simple text ads using Google AdWords, moved on to display ads on the Google Display Network, and then began using Promoted Videos to drive users to its how-two videos on YouTube. Davis says, “Online marketing is our best performer and where the bulk of our budget goes.”

When Ceilume started using YouTube, the company’s goals were to:

  • Educate users about ceiling tile best practices and installation.
  • Promote Ceilume YouTube Channel and grow brand awareness.
  • Drive direct sales from YouTube comparable to Google search and display.

“We didn’t take the decision to broadcast on YouTube lightly,” Davis said. “We signed up for Promoted Videos and created Call-to-Action overlays to raise interest in our channel, videos and website.”

With help from its AdWords management team, Ceilume cast a large net on YouTube at first, and then whittled its targeting down to reach only the most relevant users. The company’s video marketing strategy:

  • Build up its YouTube Brand Channel with informative, how-to videos showcasing its ceiling tiles.
  • Create Promoted Videos and Call-to-Action overlays to drive traffic from YouTube to its website.
  • Target the DIY and How-to categories on YouTube with inVideo ads.

“Our experience with YouTube has been genuinely positive,” Davis said. “The cost per click on YouTube is a fraction of what we pay on other marketing vehicles and the branding and impressions are high. We’ve found that YouTube generates 5 percent of our sales – and 40 percent of our impressions. At the same time, YouTube consumes only 7-8 percent of our marketing budget.”

Davis came of age watching the television shows (and commercials) of the early 1960s. Even though the content was “pushed” to viewers, he says, “I was usually entertained, often educated and occasionally inspired.”

Search – from web search to product search – reverses the old media model. “YouTube has filled in the missing piece, allowing all of us to pull the information we want, rather than having it shoved at us,” Davis said.

Ironically, Ceilume’s videos have also caught the eye of another audience that the small business hadn’t targeted: TV show producers. Ceilume Smart Ceiling Tiles have been featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”; “The Rachael Ray Show”; “While You Were Out” on TLC; “Chelsea Lately” on E!; as well as “DIY to the Rescue”, “Man Caves” and “House Crashers” on the DIY Network.

“Would my mom have believed that one day I’d have my own TV channel? No way!” Davis said. “But the results speak for themselves.”

Related reading