Objective: To increase awareness of GE as a provider of b-to-b energy, technology and industrial products.
Strategy: Develop short videos illustrating how GE solves challenges around the world.
Results: Video engagement was high, and Web site visits increased 357%.
For a company whose products are numerous—from the ubiquitous (electricity) to the imposing (jet engines and railroad locomotives)—there are plenty of opportunities to tell good stories and, in the process, enhance customer awareness and engagement.
That's the path forged by General Electric Co. when it decided last year to experiment with online video to build b-to-b brand awareness and appreciation.
“We have a passionate desire to tell stories,” said Jennifer Walsh, director-digital media, “and on the b-to-b front, as a heavy industry company, we saw video as a way to "show' people about us, not just tell them with a wall of words.”
The challenge for GE, however, as for many companies exploring the world of online video, was how to gauge viewer engagement as cleanly and directly as companies measure visits to and time spent on Web pages.
In 2007 the company developed eight custom “ecomagination” videos that were filmed in several countries using travelogue techniques and man-in-the-street interviews to examine local challenges and suggest GE solutions.
For example, a video on clean water technologies was filmed in China; bone scanning technologies were filmed in France; electricity-generation technology was the topic of a video from Austria;, and practical solutions to home energy efficiency were filmed in Connecticut.
Part of the video analytics challenge was solved by the way the campaign was designed. Rather than tryting to drive viewers to the GE Web site to see the videos (and analyze viewer engagement there), GE decided to show the videos in full on such portals as AOL, CNN, MSN and Yahoo.
On those sites, the video components played automatically, but viewers had to activate the sound. From there, viewers were invited to visit the appropriate GE Web site for additional information.
Thus, “un-muting” the video, combined with plain-and-simple click-throughs, became two readily available metrics of viewer engagement. Ad serving companies such as PointRoll and EyeWonder helped measure total active viewership. Omniture measured campaign ROI.
Walsh said Web visits prompted by an invitation in the video constituted a strong measure of viewer engagement, since the call to action could be placed anywhere within the video.
“What astounded us was that the invitation to visit the Web site for more information came at the end of these 2-minute videos,” Walsh said. “People not only were watching the videos to the end, they continued through to the Web site and averaged 7 minutes per visit there as well.”
Walsh said 40% to 50% of viewers watched to the end of the average video, at which point, “We declared victory. A click-through was an added metric.”
The video effort compared favorably with the previous year's campaign, which depended heavily on banner ads inviting visits to GE's Web site. According to Omniture and GE's own analysis, the videos helped increase visitor totals by 357% compared with 2006's banner ad campaign; total page views increased 137%.
Measuring technology was augmented by an online survey of video viewers to gauge their assessment of GE. Among those who viewed GE's “ecomagination” videos, brand favorability increased 63% against those who didn't see the spots. Opinions of GE as a forward-thinking company were 34% higher as a result of vieewing the videos. M