Nestle-owned Nescafe is not letting the troubles Facebook has encountered over the past few months deter it from investing more budget into the social network as the coffee-brand forges ahead with its ambitious e-commerce plans.
Advertiser confidence in Facebook has been arguably waning, not least because of the news that the self-described “video company” had been mismeasuring some basic statistics around viewing behaviour. But beyond that error, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg plans to limit the number of ads that can be shown in the main app’s feed. Advertisers, unsurprisingly, are cautious about what both issues will mean for them in the long-run.
Advertising giant P&G is one such brand already reappraising how it works with Facebook. And while it has stressed it will not be cutting spend, it is looking closer at exactly where it goes within the social giant’s ecosystem.
For Nescafe, it’s a similar story but it is increasingly open to experimenting with the myriad of new formats Facebook is building to plug the revenue hole that restricting ads on the feed will inevitably cause.
While the FMCG company is hesitant to go into too much detail about what these experiments entail, its early adoption of Live is a signal of its intent to place calculated bets on what the social network is serving up.
The biggest use of the feature to date came in the form of a global campaign, ‘Good Morning World’, which it created with Ogilvy Berlin in October. It asked people to submit videos of themselves with a coffee mug via Live, Periscope or YouTube in the hopes of creating a “coffee chain” through a 24-hour stream of clips.
In the end, it managed to reach 15 million people with the activity but according to Nescafe’s head of global integrated marketing Michael Chrisment, it was Facebook that delivered the greatest engagement of the three platforms. Some three million people accessed the content on Facebook and around 20% of those that watched a video either commented, liked or shared it.
“That engagement is nowhere near what we usually have,” Chrisment admitted to The Drum.
As well as the ambition of Nescafe’s Facebook Video endeavours, its spend on it has also multiplied. While exact numbers would not be revealed, Chrisment compared it to the 360-video campaign it partnered with the company on last year. "The working media investment that we’ve put behind ‘Good Morning World’ was about eight times higher,” he revealed.
But how does he know it worked for the brand beyond short term vanity metrics? Tying the activity to tangible sales growth (specifically on e-commerce channels) is the end goal and to do that Chrisment is spending more budget (around a quarter of the campaign's total spend) with Facebook on a retargeting push. People that engaged with the video will be served ads directing them to purchase through an online partner or directly from its website.
As with any advertiser it works with, Facebook is providing the measurement data. Despite the plans for this campaign coming into fruition just weeks after the platform admitted it had inflated video views at a global scale, Chrisment said his trust in it remains resolute.
“We have total openness from Facebook in bringing transparency and clarity that we want,” he said. “This is being driven by the Nestle Group (the CMO, head of digital and head of media). Nescafe is the number one brand in the group and so we’re also part of discussions."
The Facebook error was closely followed by revelations that Dentsu (which works with Nescafe) had been overcharging clients for digital work, and commentators suggested this was evidence of a widening gap in the media knowledge that brand-side marketers possess.
Nestle has been working to close this knowledge gap and as part of its modernisation programme, a Digital Acceleration Team was established. It sees people come together from all its markets every eight months to train on digital and share knowledge before going back to educate colleagues locally.
"This has been helping to monetise the way we do marketing and understand digital," said Chrisment.
Expanding its relationship with Facebook is, for Chrisment, a no brainer. And with growth in e-commerce one of his key objectives for the coming year, his head has been turned by the promise of what it is offering in Instagram.
One learning from the ‘Good Morning World’ activity was that a lot of user generated content was coming through Instagram but Nescafe had for one reason or another simply overlooked its potential on wider media plans.
Instagram recently revealed that it would soon open up the ability to let to let users buy the items they see in brand photos.
“We should elevate our game on Instagram,” Chrisment said, adding that it is in early discussion with Facebook on the e-commerce functionality.
“We’ll be looking at it more closely, the motivation of it and how it leads to sales. The user experience is good when it comes to inciting people to buy. They are developing more and more e-commerce and Buy Now possibilities and it’s done in a way where the user experience is still neat and seamless. [It has] taken a lot from Pinterest and might potentially take over Pinterest on that stream.”
Playing with the media mix
This deepening relationship with Facebook is underpinned by Nescafe’s overhauled approach to marketing. In the past four years, its investment in digital has shifted from 5% in working media to now pushing 25%. “We’ve definitely moved and evolved our media mix,” continued Chrisment.
Last year, in an effort to kickstart e-commerce sales, Nescafe ditched its dotcom websites and moved the global portfolio of websites on to Tumblr. The hope was that it would engage with a younger demographic and foster a two-way ‘content creation’ relationship.
Within six months it had noted a 30% increase in average traffic per month, with time spent also up 20 per cent over the 45 Tumblr accounts that were live at the time (of which only 10 had a ‘Buy it Now’ functionality).
All of this delivered an additional $200,000 in online sales and as it prepares to aggregate the data for a 12-month review, Chrisment was confident in his long-term predictions.
“It’s definitely looking good,” he said. “We have almost 40 sites with buy-now capabilities. So, I expect the results at the end of year to show much higher numbers. It’s continuing to bear its fruits.”