Telstra ramps up online video as latest ad "most successful ever"

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 16 September 2016
Telstra CMO Joe Pollard, Brandcast 2016

Telstra has significantly increased its marketing investment on YouTube over the past two years as its latest campaign is heralded the most successful in the telco’s history.

Telstra CMO and group executive of media Joe Pollard told YouTube’s Brandcast event last night the telco’s YouTube ads had outperformed free-to-air TV in terms of cost per reach and efficiency of spend.

Telstra’s use of YouTube has grown exponentially, from 30 videos in 2013 to more than 700 in 2015. YouTube is used by Telstra in various ways - there's a customer services channel, product demonstrations, but “most importantly, a brand storytelling channel.”

In July, Telstra launched its latest big campaign, The Magic of Technology by The Monkeys, a 90-second film on YouTube that Pollard says contained a “number of vignettes that demonstrated the ways we are trying to help our customers thrive”. It's part of a Telstra push to be seen as a "techno" rather than a telco.

To date, the video has had more than 1.5 million views with nearly 60% of people finishing the clip.

“Every element of the brand campaign has exceeded our expectations and it is the most successful Telstra campaign in our history, from a brand recognition, likeability, consideration [aspect], just to name a few,” Pollard said.

Pollard said delivering video via YouTube was proving to be more cost efficient, with $8 cost per reach compared to a CPM of $23 on free-to-air TV.

“From a performance data perspective, YouTube is 30% more efficient for us than any of our other video sources,” she added. “We only pay for the ads that people actually watch, not the ones that they skip. It’s about paying for attention that engages our customers and that makes more business sense for us.”

An explosion of video

Traffic on the Telstra’s combined network is forecast to triple over the next four years, with 60% on the fixed network and 40% on the mobile network down to online video. YouTube is one of the biggest contributors.

Pollard said the growing popularity of video is at the heart of Telstra’s marketing strategy, and testament to this are the range of digital properties the telco has bankrolled, including digital rights to show AFL, NRL, netball, Telstra TV as well as part-ownership of pay TV giant Foxtel.

Pollard pointed out that a good example of this explosion in video is the use of the Olympics on 7 app, which she described as a “watershed moment in video in Australia”.

This was highlighted by the thrilling basketball match between the Boomers and USA, which alone accounted for 25% of mobile traffic across Telstra’s network at that time.

“We operate in a world where there’s never been more competition for people’s mindspace and attention. Gone are the days when you could place and ad and everything was fine and you could wake up one day and it was all successful,” she said. “We can’t force the audience to engage anymore with our campaigns and our content, they must choose us.”

For Pollard, this means creating brand stories that compel an audience to watch, underlining the point that great content is more important today than it ever has been. 

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