Case Study: A New Car In Town – Multi-Channel Brand Awareness Campaign For The “Swedish Miracle”

The Need

EIT Forum Auto, the official importer’s team of Volvo Romania, was in need of a digital marketing campaign strictly aligned with the brand manual for offline promotion, in order to raise awareness about the new generation of Volvo XC90.

The Challenge

Boldly heralding the new generation of Volvo XC90 and erasing a part of the past

 By the time the Swedish manufacturer launched the new generation of premium SUV vehicles, the old model became drastically deprecated.

Volvo XC90 was launched at the beginning of 2000s and back then it had a significant technological advantage compared with its competitors. In 2015, however, it became drastically outdated and cars lovers migrated in the meantime, towards German brands which stayed up to date with technological innovations.

Launching of the new generation of Volvo had to herald a new era of technological state of art and keep the legendary attributes of safety, comfort and family friendliness embodied by the car.

Within an environment of fans who migrated towards other brands, that was not going to be a dead easy task. The Volvo public was now scattered and associated the car with a once good option, but little trust in the Swedish capacity of automotive innovation. 

Chasing the public: the right mix of channels to spread the good news

Defining a spider web of channels populated by people targeted by Volvo had to be a meticulous task in more ways than one. First, a myriad of websites could’ve been hosts for the targeted audiences, and negative selection was also needed, in order to strictly avoid the permeation of the message across mediums which would affect the brand perception because of inappropriate association.

 Gambling websites, online games, torrents, wallpapers, or children websites along others were crucially to be excluded when designing the digital marketing campaign. Avoiding the circulation of the message on news pages recounting accidents was also mandatory. 

Based on these filtering strata, the web of channels design had to take into account several different scenarios, based on general targeting and also retargeting methods, due to the scattered type of the audience, comprising many brand migrants.

Display optimization

Least but not last, all online promotional materials, banners and videos, had to be optimized for online display and premium locations had to be secured. Due to the high stakes of the moment, the message had to circulate via a perfectly controlled web of digital routes, so that the channel, the display position and timing, and the audience profile would perfectly match each other. 

The solution

A bouquet of media buying, Google Display, Google Search, Facebook Video Ads and YouTube Video Ads and Video Remarketing was compiled in order to permeate a wide but attentively selected audience and herald the rebirth of Volvo XC90.

Banner optimization for digital displaying

Once the strategy design was tailored and polished to filigree detail, all promotional materials developed under the brand manual had to be optimized for digital display.

Sentient Media Buying

A selection of premium Romanian news websites were approached, comprising by the most prestigious and large audiences magnets. A mixt between written press, television and niche publications dedicated to car lovers was created, taking into account both the profile and the volume of their audiences., and were some of the selected media channels where premium display positions were acquired for digital banners.

Google Display: the efficient, but tedious endeavour to spread the news widely

The media buying campaign was paralleled by a Google display campaign, by targeting websites like quality news online publications, along with other dedicated to cover news from the automotive industry. Thousands of websites hosted the banners, ensuring a widespread circulation of the message, but the process had to be actively and continuously optimized in order to exclude all instances when the banners could’ve land on pariah websites in terms of brand association. 

By the end of the first month of campaign, over 2000 websites were severed from hosting the ad. Gambling, gaming, downloading websites, along with a large plethora of platforms considered inappropriate for brand affiliation were continuously excluded from the campaign. All pages covering news or data regarding automobile accidents were also filtered out. Only quality websites were left as hosting digital lands for heralding the rebirth of Volvo XC90, ensuring a premium position for display.

Google Search campaign: relevance before all others

A meticulous Google Search campaign was developed, aimed to push the announcement as a dominator on the results page.


All ads were crafted based on search words, but also a list of over 200 negative key words was compiled in order to enhance the relevance of the ad display and also to avoid inappropriate brand affiliation. To ensure the dominator position and boost the click ratio, all Search campaigns were optimized so that announcements’ extensions to be visible. 

Facebook Video Ads for both women and men

Due to different interest anchors on the base of gender, the Facebook Video Ads campaign was tailored by selecting two distinctive target audiences, one for women and one for men living in urban areas. The same clip was displayed differently, prompting an image with a couple in front of women, and the image of the car along with a call to action, in front of men. 

YouTube Video Ads and Video Remarketing to clutter the audience and guide it to discover the whole story

As over 6 million Romanians are constantly watching YouTube clips, the channel was considered paramount for spreading brand awareness. Selecting the audience took the path of elaborate crafting, as defining the general audience was completed with both a remarketing approach and a granular targeting filter based on the watching context and online interests expressed by users.  Users who interacted in the past with the official Volvo website were primarily targeted and the ad-video was displayed in strong association with the watching history and online interest of users.

For example, before a reviewing clip published by CNET on Volvo XC90, the announcement was streamed. Al ads were highly relevant and best placed, ensuring both the brand purity, by avoiding contamination with inappropriate materials, and the ad significance for viewers. 

Furthermore, a sequential retargeting approach was run, so that viewers exposed to the long version ad, to continue to unfold the story of Volvo XC90’s rebirth through a succession of different shorter clips which cement and add complexity to the core message.

Results: High Relevance Campaign, with best price-quality balance, to re-clutter Volvo audiences

During the first month of the campaign, ads displayed on premium positions through media buying registered a click rate of 0.9 – 1.72%. Google Display campaign was from afar the most efficient one. With a CPM five times smaller than that of Media Buying, but with 6 times more displays generating 1.6 more traffic, Google Display campaign accounted of 52% of the total exposure of the message.

For Google Search, the click rate was 105% bigger for Mobile than for Desktop, but with a cost per click 1.6 times smaller. The engagement on the extension click-to-call was 17%.  Facebook Video Ads generated 41.8% reactions for women and 35.5% for men. The cost per view was maintained to 0.001Euro during the whole campaign. As for the YouTube Video Ads and Vide Retargeting, a cost per view of 0.0Euro was kept stable, while the view rate passed over 35%.

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