Shoes, Drinks, and All-Wheel-Drive

On June 1st, DC Shoes released what became a viral video of their sponsored rally racer, Ken Block, tearing through a Los Angeles wharf in a custom built Subaru WRX. After it blasts out of a warehouse, the modified rally car screeches around cinder blocks and between steel freight containers — narrowly missing every obstacle. Videos like this, with their raw camera angles and Matrix-like slow-motion, bring out the dare devil in all of us"¦ and offer a perfect opportunity for some well placed advertising and product placement. The big three brands in this video were DC Shoes, Subaru, and Monster Energy, whose graphics cake the exterior of the WRX. To digitally set the stage, several teaser videos were released in the weeks prior to the video’s launch. Compete leveraged its proprietary databases of consumer web behavior to reveal how the combination of teaser videos and the actual video created a return on investment for all three brands based on changes in site traffic.

The automotive sections of DC Shoes’ website saw immediate growth leading up to and during the week of the video’s formal release, with a lag for the other brands (first chart). DC released the teaser videos the week of May 17th and their traffic grew 150%. When the video itself was released two weeks later, traffic grew another incredible near 250%. While the other sites’ traffic was relatively flat during those two weeks, the Subaru pages saw enormous growth the week of June 7, coincident with viral exposure as evidenced by the video appearing on other sites. Supporting that the gains were associate with the video, the DC and WRX pages quickly lost momentum after the release week; the gains in traffic to the Subaru site overall traffic continued for another week, but some of that may be related to early interest in the 2010 Subaru Legacy Outback and Legacy, which were on dealers’ lots in July.

Compete also measured the impact in terms of total weekly traffic measured as unique visitors (second chart). "Unique" means a person is counted only once in these data even if he/she visited the site more than once (this is relevant because people are likely to buy only one vehicle). Traffic results also show what appears to be a lagged impact from the timing of the lift in DC Shoes auto traffic and WRX page traffic. Based on volume change, DC Shows auto was the main beneficiary, with about 60,000 incremental unique visitors during the week of May 31 compared to the week prior. The WRX pages posted a week over week lift of nearly 50,000 unique visitors. The continued growth of traffic to the Subaru site overall (as noted above coincident with some early 2010 model launches) actually supports the hypothesis that the video drove WRX traffic specifically as page traffic for WRX (not significant changed for the 2010 model year) follows the DC Shows auto pattern and not the Subaru overall pattern.

This preliminary analysis indicates both the magnitude of the impact for DC Shoes and the lag effect for WRX, as well as what may have been a lesser effect for Monster Energy. There are several additional ways to further validate the impact:

  • DC Shoes: Quantify the extent to which consumers that visited during the week of May 31 returned to the site in June or otherwise engaged with the brand (such as including "DC Shoes" in search queries and/or by visiting other pages on the DC Shoes site).
  • Subaru: Evaluate whether the visitors during the week of June 7 were in-market auto shoppers (or became in-market shoppers) based on, for example, the extent to which they researched other models shortly before, during, or after the week of June 7.
  • Monster Energy: Identify the extent to which the relatively small gain in the number of unique visitors was a function of other Monster Energy marketing (ad campaigns/sponsorships, etc.) overwhelming the impact of the DC Shoes placement.
  • All: Measure the extent to which visitors to the sites were already demographically or behaviorally similar or whether the campaign created new connections that can be leveraged in the future.