When nutritional supplement company Transparent Labs ran a video on social media as its first-ever marketing campaign, it didn’t expect to go viral.
But the five-minute video raked in 21 million views and 18,000 shares across social media, translating to a 4:1 return on ad spend. Through the campaign, Transparent Labs was able to grow its yearly revenue from about $4 million per year to more than $10 million within two years – for an all-in price of about $150,000 per month.
Transparent Labs, which is currently working with Chamber Media on a second video, is aiming for a $13 million run rate in 2019, said CEO Trevor Hiltbrand. The company took a big risk with the campaign, spending half of its yearly profits within the first year.
So, what’s with the unusual success? It’s part of a playbook run by Chamber Media, a Utah-based production and media-buying agency that works with Coca-Cola, Turkish Airlines and other brands, which has identified an efficient formula for virality.
“In old-school digital marketing, you run an image ad, get them to your website and do some big sales funnel,” said Travis Chambers, CEO of Chamber Media. “We figured out how to roll that whole funnel into a video.”
The process starts inside Chamber Media’s 3,000-square-foot production studio, where it shoots all videos in house. For Transparent Labs, Chamber developed 10 videos from one shoot, including five short videos the brand used to retarget potential customers.
Each long-form video uses the same blueprint: start with an attention-grabbing hook, followed by a teaser and a problem-and-solution sequence, with at least four or five strong calls to action sprinkled throughout. Each script is written in a modular format, making it easy to swap sequences and A/B test versions of the video for different audiences.
“Old brand marketing is about creating an emotional connection with the brand,” Chambers said. “But what we’re finding is if you’re making something fun, educational or valuable, there’s nothing but gain from asking people to buy multiple times.”
If a viewer goes on to the client’s website after watching the video, they’ll get retargeted with 15- to 30-second videos that address common concerns with the brand based on customer reviews and other data. Transparent Labs retargeted customers with shorter videos explaining the product’s premium price and all-natural ingredients after noticing the topics come up frequently in comments on the video.
“We think, ‘What are possible reasons people don’t pull the trigger on this?’ and shoot for that,” Chambers said.
Chamber Media then buys ads on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Campaigns can begin with a budget as low as $40,000.
As for the targeting strategy, “It is so generic,” Chambers said. It centers on A/B testing video sequences targeting men or women in a certain age group to see what performs best, and then uploading the client’s CRM files and scaling the buy with lookalike audiences.
Chamber Media could measure exactly how well its formula worked for Transparent Labs because the campaign ran in a vacuum, Chambers said. The brand had no other media or marketing activity running at the time of the campaign, and through Facebook and Google pixels on Transparent Lab’s site, Chamber Media could attribute a sale to either platform.
What’s the catch?
The most remarkable thing about Chamber Media’s strategy is just how unremarkable it is.
Two years ago, Chambers thought there were going to be hundreds of agencies following a similar playbook. Today there’s still less than a handful, he said.
Chambers launched the agency in 2014 after working at Crispin Porter Bogusky in LA. His partner, Bryant Garvin, was formerly the director of YouTube, search and display advertising at DTC mattress company Purple. Since the company is based in Utah, both talent and production are more affordable.
Where creative agencies will often charge $200,000 for one 30-second primetime spot, according to data from AdAge, Chamber Media runs campaigns that start as low as $40,000 range. The agency charges a flat fee for production and then gets paid on a percentage of media spend.
Chamber Media now has 20 full-time employees and 20 contractors. The agency has doubled its revenue every year and expects to generate $4 million to $5 million in 2019.