Vicks gets moms’ ear with flu warnings

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Kaz, manufacturer for the Vicks brand, found an innovative way to target a very specific audience for its new behind-the-ear thermometer — moms and expectant mothers — by leveraging the geolocation abilities of smartphones, demographics data provided by apps and an algorithm created by Google that estimates regional flu activity based on Internet searches.

Google aggregated Web searches from 2003 to 2008 with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, and using the location aspect of users’ IP addresses, Google devised a formula to estimate regional flu activity based on Internet searches. Using Google’s predictive model for the flu as its primary data, Kaz partnered with the third-party ad network to pinpoint the moms and moms-to-be who would be most interested in the noninvasive temperature-taker by indicating to them that they are in a region where the flu is prevalent, via ads served through a number of apps.

Many new or expecting mothers may be too busy to track the spread of the flu themselves, but there’s no need — the ads bring news of the flu directly to you. In the ads, agency Blue Chip Marketing combines a flu warning with a display ad for the new thermometer. The combination of warning and solution is an effective tactic, and Blue Chip said that click-through rates during the “soft launch” period in December were more than double what was anticipated.

Not only is Kaz carefully targeting its ideal consumer; it is also rolling out the campaign in such a way that it peaks when the flu season does — in late January and early February. You don’t need a thermometer to see that this campaign is one that’s burning up.

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