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What Farmers Insurance (and Rickie Fowler) Can Teach You about Growing YouTube Performance

Published: January 16, 2020

Author: Tom Leonard

Whenever I meet with clients to talk about their approach to online video advertising, I always talk about the need to think about something like a YouTube ad and a TV ad differently. All too often, we see our clients look to leverage their best TV ads on YouTube, and time after time we see the same thing: ads not optimized for the YouTube platform and performance not ideal for the brands. This is a typical viewership curve for those ads:

That precipitous drop-off represents the biggest difference between a YouTube viewer and a TV viewer: The ability to effortlessly skip the ad. Within five seconds, if the ad doesn’t pique a viewer’s interest, the ad gets skipped.
So where does that leave advertisers? They need to adapt, leveraging available data to make media (and creative) work harder. Let’s talk about how an ad for Farmers Insurance (not a 3Q client) did this well.
In the same way we can see the large drop-off in viewership after the skip button appears, we can also see the converse: times when most people stick around and the moments fewer people choose to skip.  As Leesa Eichberger, head of brand marketing at Farmers, describes to MediaPost, the data indicated a spike in attention upon hearing the Farmers’ jingle. )
This information led Farmers and their agency to create spots with the jingle earlier in the ad – specifically, within the first 5 seconds, which provided virtually 100% of the reached audience with an attention-grabber that doubles as Farmers branding (the power of jingles is real!). This front-loading of a hook and branding is critical to a successful YouTube ad because it encourages people to keep watching and gets your brand in front of users who skip after hearing the jingle and whom, thanks to YouTube’s CPV bidding, you aren’t paying to reach.
YouTube’s ABCD framework for video creative provides a helpful lens for analyzing these new ads. I’ll argue Famers has always done ‘C’ (Connect) well because, well, Rickie Fowler is the best. ‘A’ (Attract) and ‘B’ (Brand) are wisely accomplished through these ads, as I mentioned. What really drives home the impact of these ads is what occurs at the very end of them: the ‘D’ (Direct). Because these ads are so well suited for digital, and I’d assume they’re putting more dollars online than usual given the focus on online video ad best practices, there’s a clear call to action for a digital viewer compared to what we’ve typically seen from Farmers:

Typical Farmers ad

YouTube Farmers ad with CTA

While I don’t know for sure if Farmers has shifted more budget away from TV to streaming platforms like YouTube (as other brands have), it’s crucial that as budgets shift, creative strategy also shifts, something we’ll continue to see from brands of all sizes.

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