About six months ago, Coca-Cola embarked on its first all-digital campaign. How did it go?
Coke appears happy with the results. Some 4 million consumers have visited the 40 websites affiliated with the effort, staying for an average of 2-plus minutes each. About half the traffic has been organic, meaning the target — in this case, a teen — has shared the media with a friend.
"The objective was engagement," said Jennifer Healan, group director of integrated marketing communications for Coca-Cola. "We got teens going from one site to the next once they go in." Healan didn't break down traffic in terms of mobile versus desktop, but she did note that "there is surprisingly a lot of desktop."
The Ahh Effect, which officially launched in April, uses the URL ahh.com (two H's) along with ahhh.com (three H's), ahhhh.com (4 H's) and so on, with each succeeding "H" in the URL ushering in a new experience. The URLs grow longer and longer throughout the campaign.
So far, 40 "experiences" are available out of an eventual total of 61. The most popular experience was this video featuring YouTube phenomenon Kurt Hugo Schneider, which each visitor watched an average of two times, boosting that "time spent" metric.
No traditional media supported the campaign except for a call-out on some Coca-Cola packaging. (See above.) In comparison, the brand brought 9 million visitors to a dedicated website in connection with its 2012 Super Bowl campaign and visitors spent an average of 28 minutes on the site.
Coke could easily reach 4 million teens with a TV buy, but at best, the brand would get 30 seconds of their attention.
Coke could easily reach 4 million teens with a TV buy, but at best, the brand would get 30 seconds of their attention. The Ahh Effect gives it four times as much and achieved that Holy Grail of 2013 marketing: engagement.
The campaign hasn't necessarily proved that engagement leads to more purchases, but Meg Haley, the brand manager for Coca-Cola, said the brand is pleased with the results. "This is one of our most-researched campaigns," she said. "So far, what we're hearing is for those that might not have been frequent drinkers there's a shift in preference. It's cool, it's relevant. The campaign lends itself to purchase intent."
Not everyone agrees. Tom Klein, CEO of digital marketing consultancy Digital Scientists, said the link between engagement and sales has not yet been proven.
"There's not a great connection between the two," Klein said. "You can hear it when you talk to retailers and they feel like it's something they have to do but it doesn't make them a lot of money."
Despite the campaign's apparent success, Haley said the success of The Ahh Effect doesn't mean Coke is disregarding TV. In fact, the brand is considering adding TV support for Ahh in 2014.
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