WBU Wins 2022 Overall Innovation Award for Franchising Marketing Leadership
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WBU Wins 2022 Overall Innovation Award for Franchising Marketing Leadership

WBU Wins 2022 Overall Innovation Award for Franchising Marketing Leadership

Franchise Update Media recently wrapped its 4th Annual Franchise Innovation Awards contest. Judges evaluated more than 100 entries in four main categories and 22 subcategories to determine the winners. One of the highest honors each year is the Overall Award for Franchise Marketing Leadership. This year’s winner is Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) for a unique digital campaign using layered CTV and programmatic/native display advertising.

This year, WBU was recognized with two individual awards for the unique campaign—Best Digital Campaign and Best Limited Budget Campaign—resulting in award for Overall Franchise Marketing Leadership.

WBU set out with an objective to reach new, prospective customers during the winter holidays using layered CTV and programmatic/native display advertising. Programmatic CTV and native display advertising provided an opportunity to get in front of more potential customers, on more devices, and to apply sophisticated targeting and retargeting tactics to create a holistic customer experience. The brand applied a QR code to CTV ads, generating more useful performance data than is typically available from digital TV campaigns. Programmatic CTV and display campaigns offered the brand the ability to do hyperlocal geographic targeting.

We asked Bo Lowery, vice president of marketing at WBU, about the campaign, its impacts, and its results.

What were the goals of the initiative? To reach potential new customers for the retail holiday gift-giving season; and to drive consideration across all audiences to “give the gift of bird feeding” as a unique and meaningful holiday gift. 

Describe WBU’s innovative use of programmatic CTV technology as a marketing strategy. We produced three 30-second TV spots in-house that ran on CTV/OTT from mid-October through December 2021. The campaign used hyperlocal targeting to reach audiences geographically near each WBU store across the U.S. and Canada. It then layered in behavioral, contextual, and PMP targeting, along with retargeting users who had previously visited our web site on CTV or OTT devices. 

What was unique about the innovation and the technology used? Even with a limited budget (under $500,000), the campaign used several types of targeting to reach relevant audiences. Additionally, we were able to target customers who had previously visited a WBU store or shopped a competitor. The campaign used algorithmic optimization to generate better results through automated bid adjustments based on best-performing ad inventory and to optimize the ad spend for maximum efficiency. It used machine learning across 30 campaign parameters to optimize toward our desired goals. 

How long did it take to put together and launch? We started discussions about the campaign in late August 2021. In early September, I presented the campaign proposal to our Franchise Advisory Council and received approval for the Ad Fund spend. My team delivered three 30-second TV ads and 36 display ads by early October. The campaign launched on October 18. 

What were the results, impacts, and main successes of the campaign? We exceeded our campaign goals for video completion rate (goal of 90%, actual 91.63%) and cost-per-click for the display ads (goal of $3, actual cost $2.46). We reached more than 11 million viewers with the TV commercials and delivered more than 32 million impressions with the display ads. We saw a year-over-year increase of 8.92% in site traffic. As a result of the campaign, we also gathered valuable insights about top-performing sites and placements, best-performing targeting tactics, best creative, and top-performing tactics across devices. 

What was the impact for franchisees? A major impact was to increase brand awareness during the busy holiday shopping season and to drive consideration of our products as unique holiday gifts. Without any effort on their part, franchisees gained increases in web traffic, in-store visits and sales, and online sales. 

What was the impact for customers? More customers were made aware of Wild Birds Unlimited and of giving bird feeding as a great holiday gift idea. As we have seen our core customer base skew younger, these are important messages to share. As younger customers are more likely to consume digital media, this was a highly efficient way to reach them. 

What was the ROI? This campaign contributed to a year-over-year increase in new customer count, as well as double-digit increases in sales and transactions. 

Will there be further evolution of this technology at the brand? What would it look like? We have already run another campaign of this kind for Mother’s Day 2022 with similar strong results. We plan to do a campaign at Holiday 2022 and into 2023. With the help of our partners at Location3, we continue to test and optimize the audience targeting. 

Anything else? We have long wished for our Ad Fund to support major advertising for the WBU brand, but we simply didn’t have enough money to make an impact with traditional advertising. We have learned that even with a limited budget, we can extend the reach of the brand. These sophisticated advertising methods and our strong partnership with Location3 make it possible.

Published: July 13th, 2022

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