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Brands Push Boundaries With Instagram Video


BacklotConsumers don’t want to see repurposed 30-second TV spots in their social feeds, which is why a number of brands and their agencies are investing in content tailored for Instagram.

In September, Instagram’s 400 million users began seeing more ads as the image-centric platform turned on 30-second video ads, as well as landscape ads, which added a cinematic look and feel to the feed.

A number of brands and film studios have tested the formats, including Michael Kors, one of the first brands to run multicountry Marquee ads (a premium video ad format claiming high reach) for its Jet Set Six shoe line. The high-impact formats contributed to a 22-point lift in ad recall, according to Instagram.

But brands aren’t turning to Instagram only for reach. Many see the platform as a complement to their traditional TV and Facebook campaigns to catch users in a certain mood.

“So much of the Instagram interface is designed for these snackable social moments throughout the day,” said Doug Stokes, group director of media strategy and research for Interpublic Group agency Compass Point Media, the media planning and buying agency for Johnsonville Sausage.

“Oftentimes, their phone will be on mute if they’re browsing at work, so while we do add a musical undertone to our video spots, it’s not integral to understanding the actual message of the videos.”

To promote a “Sausage Sunday” campaign that runs through the end of the year, Johnsonville partnered with WomensForum, a women’s lifestyle site reaching north of 40 million monthly users, for a native video campaign that included Instagram extensions.

Because Instagram videos are on muted autoplay, Johnsonville wanted to communicate its message visually.

The 15-second videos were instructional how-tos and redirected users to a recipe carousel on Pinterest for more meal ideas. The videos supported a range of other activations, including an original programming sponsorship of WomensForum’s series “Kitchen Courses,” custom articles and native ads.

Creating the Insta Video Asset

Instagram is an important branding mechanism for Johnsonville. Because of sausage’s associations with grilling and football, the brand wanted more consumers to see the product’s softer side.


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“When you create a social video, you can’t just use the content approach you took with longer-form video,” said Mark Kaufman, CEO of WomensForum. “This campaign required a special approach as dictated by Johnsonville’s objectives to reach the millennial, on-the-go meal planner.”

Although Droga5 acts as Johnsonville’s creative agency of record, the Sausage Sunday activation was born from Compass Point’s strategy to push beyond banner ads. Its partnership with WomensForum – and the creation of several short-form videos – was one facet.

ss“This is our second go-round with Johnsonville in the last couple of years,” said Kaufman. “We have better demographic profiles now [around logged-in users] and the more we can accumulate data, the more refined our targeting can be.”

One learning was how viewer attention on Instagram differed from Facebook, which helped WomensForum’s video production arm, Studio444, tailor creative appropriately.

“When you’re on Instagram, there is that snackable teaser that can drive the user into a deeper environment to get more of a story in contrast to Facebook, where we need this active takeaway,” Kaufman said. “You have 15 seconds, but you also have two minutes on Facebook. When you’re scripting and laying out these shoots, these differences matter in your camera and angle selection.”

Who Owns The Creative?

Compass Point’s Stokes said one of the key challenges of a modern media agency is ensuring a client’s message remains “on brand” when its stable of creative assets are sometimes outsourced well beyond the creative agency’s trajectory.

If an asset is off-brand, it can be detrimental to brand consistency. Thus, in the WomensForum/social video activation, factors like music, color saturation and even the design of the tablescapes were carefully studied to ensure they matched Johnsonville’s Sausage Sunday hub on its owned-and-operated site, as well as TV creative.

Similarly, TAG Creative, which has worked with watch brand Movado for several years, is sometimes brought in earlier in the creative process and takes on a consultative role with new digital publishers who may be collaborating with Movado on branded content.

“We are sometimes there before the product even has a name, so our job is to help define and position the look and feel of the creative,” commented Gina Delio, founder and chief creative officer of TAG Creative. “The creative often lives on past the original request and sometimes we find it being used by the brand to brief publishers for a specific digital initiative.”

Before the recent launch of three new watch lines, TAG created a “sizzle reel” designed for retail presentations, which led to a series of short-form teaser videos. Movado ended up releasing the content to Instagram episodically before its television commercial and print campaign hit.

By starting with snackable content designed for use across social media and brand site, Movado ended up with a whole suite of short-form, digital content. “It really allowed us to step outside the original brief and push some boundaries,” Delio added, a complete reversal from simply dicing down a 30-second linear spot.

Compass Point’s Stokes says he sees a future where agencies will help brand clients balance programmatic video and native activations across publisher sites and platforms. Johnsonville’s campaign with WomensForum alone is expected to drive more than a million earned media views for the brand.

“It is such a different kind of impression, too,” he said, “because the message is content and you’re providing something of value that goes beyond an ad.”

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