Oklahoma may be where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains, but it’s also a state that knows how to use video advertising effectively. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) strayed from traditional channels and dedicated 20% of its “Come See For Yourself” campaign budget to YouTube TrueView video ads to expand its reach for less.
Summer is a peak travel cycle for Oklahoma, says Dick Dutton, director of the OTRD’s Travel Promotion Division, and the state primarily targets 25-to-64-year-old adults who live out of state. Typically, the OTRD relied on traditional channels, such as television and print ads, to attract this demographic; however, the department couldn’t afford to reach travelers in major cities—like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. To see if there was a more cost effective way to reach out-of-state travelers, the OTRD selected 12 test markets in which they would only run YouTube TrueView video ads from April to May. The OTRD also ran outdoor, search, and display advertising campaigns in separate markets at the same time, Dutton adds.
“We launched the traditional media with the YouTube [ads] simultaneously so we have matching dates to track the data with,” Dutton says.
The two 60-second and two 30-second video spots featured Oklahomans singing the eponymous Broadway hit while enjoying state activities, such as camping, visiting museums, and horseback riding. Dutton says one of the greatest challenges the OTRD faced was determining how to start the ads so that viewers would want to watch the videos the whole way through.
“If we don’t catch someone in the first five to six seconds, they’re not going to pay attention,” he says.
And the Sooner State soon discovered that the videos were a hit. Markets that just featured the TrueView video ads drove 486% year-over-year website visitation growth. In addition, these 12 markets accounted for 44% of website traffic—totaling more than 284,000 visits. This high visitation boosted TravelOK.com, the OTRD’s official site, to the top spot among state tourism department websites. In addition, the two 60-second video spots have more than 4.2 million views on YouTube combined.
Dutton says the OTRD will definitely run TrueView ads in the future; however, he says the department hasn’t decided on whether it will cut back on its traditional spend. In addition, he says that the OTRD is looking for ways to use video ads to target travelers with specific interests, such as hiking or genealogy. He adds that this is something that OTRD is currently able to do with its print advertisements, such as giving those interested in hiking an outdoor guide.