Verizon Connect, the telco’s telematics business unit that helps companies keep track of their truck fleets, has been around for almost a decade. But after acquiring two smaller companies in 2016, it was time to relaunch its brand and its value prop.
On Tuesday, it launched a digital campaign that targets automakers and businesses that own and operate truck fleets.
Besides content marketing like e-books and white papers, Verizon Connect will also spend a fair amount on pre-roll video ads for consumer channels like Facebook and YouTube, said Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer at Verizon Connect. There’s a perception that B2B audiences aren’t on these channels, but that’s just not true, he added.
“I think the trap marketers fall into is they think consumer and B2B are two distinct universes,” he said. “We’re starting to break the mold in understanding where some consumer channels, when harnessed appropriately, make a ton of sense for B2B marketers.”
But while marketers can find their B2B audiences on consumer channels, they need to approach them with contextually appropriate messaging, Jaffin said. Consumers prefer more informal messages on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
“That’s really the only black-and-white difference,” Jaffin said. “Other than that, they’ve got tremendous targeting capability. Facebook is a great platform for that.”
To target its audience on these channels, Connect is using some third-party data, but prefers relying on first-party data and engagement data from its website to ensure the quality is high.
“Data is very important to us, and we know it’s important to our customers, so we try to keep that as internal as possible,” Jaffin said. “Our objective is to use as little third-party data as we need to.”
Digital channels aren’t the only areas where Connect is breaking the B2B mold. The brand held a pre-launch experiential event in December that invited truckers to celebrate an important industry deadline and garnered one billion impressions from media coverage, Jaffin said.
For the programmatic portion of the campaign, Verizon Connect worked with its sister company Oath’s One by AOL platform and bought media on Oath properties that align with its brand. Verizon isn’t required to work with Oath on marketing campaigns, but it’s easier to tap resources within the family, Jaffin said.
“We want to use best in class first and foremost, but being a sister company of Oath, we want to give them look, of course,” he said.
But there’s no data sharing or special access between Oath and Connect that comes with being part of the Verizon family.
“Our paychecks are signed in the same place, but we generally keep a client-partner relationship with them,” Jaffin said. “Across the organization, we try to make sure we maintain the appropriate controls and walls.”
Verizon puts those same walls up between its core telco business and Connect as well to mitigate consumer privacy concerns.
“We generally keep the business units fairly separate,” Jaffin said. “That’s an area that we’re very careful.”
On the owned media side, Connect is pulling together about 17 different websites it had for its existing telematics solutions onto a single domain to present itself as a unified brand. Having a comprehensive suite of solutions under one brand will help it stand out in a fragmented market, Jaffin said.
“We have literally dozens of very small competitors that all do a specific thing,” he said. “There wasn’t just one that delivered everything.”
To launch the campaign, Connect worked with Verizon’s media agency, Zenith, under a dedicated team called VM1. The brand also worked closely with Google directly, Jaffin said.
Connect will measure success of the campaign using on high-level brand metrics like brand awareness and brand love as well as bottom-funnel conversions. Because telematics equipment is expensive and has a long sales cycle, Connect will look to hit KPIs like getting qualified leads, performing demos and ultimately making the sale as different conversion metrics along the funnel.
“Awareness without conversion is meaningless,” Jaffin said. “They’re both equally important.”