GoPro is in the “go big” business, building its brand on the backs and boards of extreme sports athletes like surfers, snowboarders and BASE jumpers.
And for the release of its latest camera, the GoPro Hero3, the brand went really big, plotting an online ad strategy that stretched its fourth-quarter ad budget eight times beyond what it spent during the same period last year.
GoPro’s promotional pillars are ongoing event sponsorships like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which keep the brand in front of its core audience. But this year’s ad strategy “really was an attempt to break GoPro out of our niche core awareness circles,” said Lee Topar, GoPro’s director of online marketing.
GoPro started planning for the October release of the GoPro Hero3 six months ago. The brand hired Carat as its lead media agency and began to scale up its work with Google’s ad tech products and Google Analytics consultant Analytics Pros, Topar said. Given that GoPro was aiming to run a lot of ads to drive a lot of traffic back to its site, the company began using DoubleClick as its ad server and dug into its site strategy.
During the fourth quarter, GoPro rang up 450 million impressions across online properties including ESPN, Fox Sports and more than 70 new sites or ad networks the brand hadn't advertised on before. The brand also hit 2.5 billion search impressions. “Facebook and Twitter played a solid role, too,” Topar said. “Sixty percent of those impressions were on video networks, and 90 percent were on social platforms [including YouTube]."
Digging deeper into ad tech not only bolstered GoPro’s ad buys but also streamlined its website. Using Google’s recently introduced Tag Manager product, GoPro and Analytics Pros uncovered a “couple ad networks … where the third-party pixel was architected in such a way that there was some funny business going on.”
Companies such as Evidon and Truste have previously discussed the dilemmas online publishers and e-commerce sites face by having too many cookies or other tracking mechanisms affixed to their Web pages, slowing page load speeds and siphoning audience data. Topar wouldn’t finger which ad networks, but Analytics Pro founder and principal consultant Caleb Whitmore said “it was not necessarily the case of a bad network trying to do something evil.”
In one case, an ad network simply got too greedy with its attribution measurement, trying to track users beyond their clicks through an ad to GoPro.com to see what they’re doing on the site so the net could funnel back that behavior to its targeting algorithm, according to Topar. Added Whitmore: “We identified the issue and were able to work through GoPro and the vendor and serve the tag through Google Tag Manager."
Topar declined to delve deep into the online campaign's performance thus far “because the results are still coming in.” Nonetheless, he described the effort as GoPro’s “most successful product launch ever,” having already notched a top 10 YouTube video ad and nearly selling out the product.