As a kid I used to love cars, I would collect miniature models and memorize the specs of the real ones. Until one day I grew out of it for no particular reason. Now I watch my own child play with them … but how long will this mechanical infatuation last?
Society also seems to be at odds with the automotive industry – one which is now facing a decline in sales and positioning disruption. Car sharing, ride hailing, electric power, driverless vehicle congregate in the perfect storm.
Manufacturers however are not just idle passenger in this ride. While making efforts to keep the automotive game relevant they are shedding their traditional image and preparing for a self-driving, environmentally-friendly future (1-Ford). In an attempt to spread a new message arises the challenge to move away from traditional advertising into a world where communication is driven by authentic content and reviews.
Why YouTube is critical for the car industry
Research illustrates that digital channels are a primary information source for customers (2 -McKinsey) and YouTube plays a critical role in the customer journey.
An analysis of almost 8,000 pieces of content posted by 12 of the most subscribed brand channel highlights what type of video content is most engaging and loved by the automotive audience.
An extract can be found in the chart below:
A methodology to analyse ‘owned brand content’ on YouTube
Automotive brands rely heavily on paid media as a source of instant ‘increased viewership’. This alone however is not a valid criteria for video success. Promotion will often distort the data when comparing video reach.
To gain a deeper understanding of the nature of views, the team at theloup have developed a new logical, statistical methodology. Formed of three steps:
- Aggregating information provided by YouTube in absolute terms and as ratios.
- Statistical tools (paid views v.s. subscribers) to normalize the data.
- Video ranking for each channel.
The result: identification of effective, sustainable media patterns that can work long term for automotive industry. Below are 5 categories of content that performed particularly well.
1. Stunt usage
Unsurprisingly, stunts, records and races are crowd pleasers.
For example, the highest ranking video from Chevrolet, is a fairly simple point-of-view footage of a record writing lap time by their ZL1 model;
Similarly BMW (the second most subscribed car brand in our sample: 700,000 subscribers) ranks high with its carefully orchestrated “epic drift mob”;
2. Stay focused on the product
Stunts are not the only prerequisite for engagement. In fact the highest ranking video from BMW is a classic a walkthrough of a its new series 7:
It is sleek, lasts around 4 minutes and is very detailed.
Fiat’s top videos are focused on their star performer – the Fiat 500. Below is their highest ranking content and also the most watched with over 19 million views:
3. Make it fun
Ford ‘owns’ the leading automotive manufacturer brand channel on YouTube with over 1.3m subscribers (twice as many views as the nearest competitor). It is a bold brand that plays with humor. The top two videos happen to be a speed dating prank and a Metal Gear Solid parody which display the highest engagement rank among all its content:
4. Revisit the past
For Volvo, nostalgia pays off. One of their top performing pieces of content is all about the brand’s deep history:
Similarly the top content for Renault reflects upon the legacy of its Renault Alpine:
5. Look into the future
The aforenamed Renault clip is a good example of combining the lineage of the past with a contemporary twist, as we wind through scenic imagery in pursuit of the Alpine.
Tesla, as we would expect, enjoys great success posting futuristic videos and eco-themed videos:
This is a theme we will see more of in the coming years.
The times are changing for the century-old automotive industry. As manufacturers are embracing new challenges they will have to compete with their products and technology but also with content against. Against new entrants that are more digitally-savvy the car industry can still engage.
The team’s new statistical platform allows brands, agencies and publishers alike to understand the science behind video and in turn grow video audience and engagement.
Complimentary previews, industry insights, channel data and topline content analyses can be accessed simply by registering on theloup.co