GMC has partnered with Yahoo to create a standalone original video series called “Answers on the Street” that employs product placement in online video.
The series is based on the Yahoo Answers service that has 90 million users and 250 million answers posted worldwide. Produced by Yahoo Originals and Renegade Production Company and hosted by TV personality J. Keith van Straaten, it brings question-and-answer sessions to life with real-world experiments, expert opinion and man-on-the-street interviews.
“When you look at content that is really popular like Answers.com, the next logical step is to take the experience to the growing world of online video,” Lon Bollenbacher, automotive category director at Yahoo. “It’s fun. It’s informative and it’s entertaining. And instead of using a pre-roll ad or an ad in the show, the products are integrated organically.”
With this partnership, GMC is targeting Yahoo users to expose a large audience of consumers to its GMC Sierra truck. In addition to showing the host driving the streets of LA in a GMC Sierra, many episodes feature the Sierra and its capabilities within each weekly episode.
For example, in an episode that is focused on how to cook the best steak, man-on-the-street participants who are tailgating at a sports game will be asked for their opinions. A car demo, such as the opening of a truck’s hatch, is organically integrated into the script when the driver goes to set up his tailgate.
“This allows for an unobtrusive demo that is not staged but integrated. We try to find questions that we can naturally create a context around,” said Bollenbacher.
To support the series, Yahoo and GMC have collaborated to create a site that combines Yahoo’s content with the GMC brand which can be reached at http://answersonthestreet.yahoo.com.
Features of the online destination site include original weekly video content and the option to submit questions to be answered on the show.
Users are also able to link to GMC’s Letstalktrucks.com site and post comments among GMC Sierra owners.
The videos can be shared virally, as viewers can save the show to their deli.cio.us or My Web accounts. J. Keith van Straaten also hosts an official Yahoo 360 blog that marks highlights from previous and upcoming episodes.
GMC is supporting the campaign through targeted ad placements on the Yahoo network, which include the Front Page, Answers, Finance, News and Sports.
“Social media is a great and engaging way to get a customer’s attention, but it is always difficult to determine how marketers can get in on this,” Bollenbacher remarked.
“This kind of natural integration is a great way to engage the users while still getting the advertising message out,” he added.