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Award-Winning Video Storytelling Lessons | Content Marketing Institute



Award-Winning Video Storytelling Lessons | Content Marketing Institute

Few shared experiences possess the emotional resonance and universal relatability as the one embodied by this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It served as a tentpole for Purdue University’s student recruitment marketing through a video that illustrates one ambitious person’s vision of their journey – with Purdue playing a pivotal role at every step.

The video achieved notable success against the institution’s marketing goals. It also won the 2023 Content Marketing Award for Best Motivational Video/Video series and was named a Project of the Year finalist.

What do you want to be when you grow up? The ubiquitous question inspired @LifeAtPurdue to create an award-winning video via @Joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Let’s explore the vision behind this visual content hit and how it contributed to impressive marketing results for the brand.  

What Can You Imagine at Purdue?

The video – What Can You Imagine at Purdue? – captures the essence of the university’s message: “The only barriers to what you can achieve should be the limits of your imagination.”

In the video, a young Black girl wonders aloud about what she’s going to do when she grows up. As her father braids her hair, he replies, “Whatever you can imagine.” Then, he covers her eyes and asks what she sees for her life.

Viewers glimpse her desired future and all the milestones she’ll reach along the way. The visuals and voiceover relate to the story of her dreams of building robots at Purdue Polytechnic High School, going to Purdue University, and exploring her passions through extracurricular activities and on-campus communities.

She relates her vision to that of her father, who’s earning his degree at Purdue Global (the institution’s online university for working adults). At the end of the video, this proud father asks his daughter what she’ll do from there. Her answer: “Whatever I want.”

4 lessons on video content marketing success

Purdue’s video storytelling teaches important lessons – ones your brand can follow on its path to marketing success.

Align content with core brand values

In an interview with the Content Marketing Institute, R. Ethan Braden, Purdue’s executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, says his team crafted the story around core tenets of Purdue’s brand essence – ‘persistent innovation together’.

  • Persistent: The central character works on a challenging project in a Purdue classroom. Her father asks what she’ll do if she doesn’t succeed at first. Her answer: “I’ll try again, and again, and again …” That message is reinforced as viewers see her troubleshoot her experiment and, ultimately, make a breakthrough.
  • Innovation: The girl mentions career possibilities in rocket science and computer science. That emphasizes Purdue’s curricula in those fields of study while modeling available opportunities for women who want to pursue career education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Together: Purdue sees success as achieved through collaborative – not competitive – efforts. This concept is reinforced through the girl’s vision of meeting other students on campus, making memories with friends, and enjoying time with her peers in the Purdue student community.

@LifeAtPurdue crafted its No. 1 video message around the brand’s core tenets – persistent innovation together, says @REthanBraden via @Joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

A clip showing the girl’s father logging into an online portal to receive his assignments as a student at Purdue Global connects the story to the brand’s commitment to making higher education accessible to all, including adults furthering their education while remaining in the workforce.

Purdue’s video smartly communicates how offerings like Purdue Global make higher education more universally attainable, regardless of their stage of life, economic circumstances, or scheduling needs.

It’s also worth noting that the video features a Black family, given the systemic disadvantages experienced by people of color that may affect their vision of college. “We wanted to tell that story with asset framing, through that lens of a little African American girl and her father, and we wanted to really get it right,” Ethan says.

Enchant your audience with emotive storytelling

Ethan says enchanting Purdue’s target audiences is his team’s sole goal for content creation. “It’s to rouse them and attract their ecstatic admiration and demand for Purdue, whatever that means in that moment.”

The video achieves this with its relatable theme of dreaming of the future. Emotive experiences reinforce that message – a father helping his daughter prepare for school and a student exploring her passions and building friendships.  

Ethan notes those details inspired viewers to comment: “You know when he’s braiding her hair? I teared up because that was authentic,” and “I’ve never heard of Purdue before, and now I wanna go there.”

This evidence indicates his team hit on the right emotions and insights to expand audience awareness, interest, and consideration of Purdue.

Through a terrific product and content efforts like this, Ethan says Purdue has seen a 30% increase in its student body over 10 years, and applications have doubled in the last five years.

Applications to @LifeAtPurdue doubled in the last five years thanks in part to its inspiring and motivational #ContentMarketing, says @REthanBraden via @Joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Show how your experiences connect

Brands need a clear content marketing strategy to guide their customers through all the stages of their buyer’s journey. Purdue’s video takes viewers through an aspiring student’s personal journey – one that highlights the Purdue portfolio of offerings and the institution’s various pre-college, online, and extracurricular offerings.

The Purdue team deliberately emphasized how its experiences connect under a broad portfolio of educational products. Ethan says this distinguishes Purdue’s content from standard university marketing focusing on a single institution.

“We wanted you to see her go to high school. We wanted you to see her aim for Purdue,” Ethan says. “We wanted you to see her father going to Purdue Global and achieving his degree as a working adult, and how those [experiences] stitched together [as part of the] Purdue portfolio.”

Expand reach with multiplatform distribution

According to Purdue, the video earned more than 28 million views on YouTube, with an astounding 82% view rate. In just 28 days, it became the most-viewed video on the Purdue YouTube channel, besting a video that had earned views for over 15 years.

Those are impressive results for any video asset, let alone a two-minute ad. But Purdue didn’t rely on organic reach alone. The ad gained a big promotional boost in critical visibility moments like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Big 10 championship football game, and the Citrus Bowl.

Ethan says the campaign also involved posts on social media (where it earned 170,000 views and more than 670,000 impressions) and was promoted through award entries, including the Content Marketing Awards.  

The team also invests in socializing its content internally to ensure their organizational stakeholders understand and appreciate the value of content. “We prioritize marketing the marketing so others can see the excellence and expertise of this team and their contributions,” says Ethan, which gives them the buy-in they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

See increased video success in your brand’s future

Purdue’s video ad captured and kept its target audience’s attention. It also ensured more viewers would see the breadth of what Purdue has to offer. So, what can your videos be when they grow up? Let Purdue’s four lessons help you manifest that vision.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

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About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai



Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

In a groundbreaking alliance, Amazon and Hyundai have joined forces to reshape the automotive landscape, promising a revolutionary shift in how we buy, drive, and experience cars.

Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.

Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution

Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.

The result?

A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.

Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity

Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.

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Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics

Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.

In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.

Amazon and Hyundai launch a broad, strategic partnership—including vehicle sales on in 2024 – Amazon Staff

This collaboration promises not just a transaction but a transformation in the way customers interact with, purchase, and engage with their vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Seamless Online Purchase:

  • Complete the entire transaction within the trusted Amazon platform.
  • Utilize familiar payment and financing options.
  • Opt for convenient pick-up or doorstep delivery.
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Hyundai’s Cloud-First Transformation:

  • Experience a data-driven organization powered by AWS.
  • Benefit from enhanced production optimization, cost reduction, and improved security.

Alexa Integration in Next-Gen Vehicles:

  • Enjoy a hands-free, voice-controlled experience in Hyundai vehicles.
  • Access music, podcasts, reminders, and smart home controls effortlessly.
  • Stay connected with up-to-date traffic and weather information.

Driving into the Future

The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.

The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.

Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]



How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

It’s no wonder that responsive search ads have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Through Google’s machine learning capabilities, RSAs provide a powerful way to automate the testing of multiple headlines and descriptions to ensure a closer match to user intent. The benefits are clear: RSAs mean broader reach, better engagement, and improved performance metrics.

However, all these benefits come at a significant (but reasonable) cost – they can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when it comes to updating ad copy to promote limited time offers.

I know this firsthand – I work with several ecommerce clients with promotions that constantly change. Not too long ago, I found myself going through the consistently tedious process of updating a client’s RSA headlines and copy. As I was making the changes, I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to update this ad copy. I shouldn’t have to use find and replace so many times while pausing and enabling my ad campaigns.”

After expressing this to my colleague, Jordan Stambaugh, the two of us agreed there must be a better way. But we’d have to make it happen. A few weeks later, we put that idea into action and created a more efficient process for updating RSA ad copy on a scheduled basis. If you want to try this process for yourself, just keep reading.

Responsive Search Ad Customizers 101: Basic Options & Execution

Before diving into the process of scheduling automatic updates for your RSA customizers, it’s essential to understand some key Responsive Search Ad fundamentals.

First, you can customize three main options within RSAs: the Attribute Name, the Data Type, and the Account Value. Each of these plays a vital role in personalizing your ads:

  • Attribute Name: This is essentially the identifier for the customizer. It is how you’ll reference the specific piece of information you’re customizing within the ad. For instance, if you’re running a promotion, you might name an attribute “Promotion.”
  • Data Type: This indicates the kind of data the attribute represents and it determines how the information can be formatted and used within the ad. Common data types include Text (for plain, non-numeric text), Percent (to represent percentage discounts), Price (to denote monetary values), and Number (for any numerical value).
  • Account Value: This is the default value for the attribute that you set at the account level. It acts as a fallback if more specific values aren’t provided at the campaign or ad group level.

For example, if you wanted to promote a 10% off discount using RSAs, you’d use the “Discount” attribute, a data type of “Percent,” and an account value of “10% off.” Then, when someone is searching for products, Google would test automatically inserting a copy regarding a 10% off promotion into your ad.

Once you’ve set up the right customization options, you can start to format your RSAs with customizers.

Here’s how:

  • Start by typing in {
  • Click on Ad Customizer then select your attribute
  • Google will populate your attributes that are already uploaded
  • For a simple offer, use the “Default text” attribute as a catch-all. This will ensure your ads run smoothly if Google can’t pull the right messaging from your RSA feed



How to Schedule Your Ad Customizers with a Feed

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s cover how to schedule your ad customizers.

Just follow this three step process:

1. Create the feed

Start by creating two sheets: The Parent sheet, and the Child sheet. The “Parent” sheet will act as the primary data source, while the child sheet will pull data from the parent sheet.

We’ll start by building the parent sheet. After opening the sheet, start by renaming the active tab to “Promotions.” Don’t skip this step, it’s crucial for referencing this range in formulas later on.

In your “Promotions” tab, head to the top row and label columns A, B, and C with the headers of your ad customizer attributes. For example, you might have “BrandSaleHeadline” as your attribute in column A, “text” as the Data Type in column B, and “Shop the Collection” as the Account Value in column C.

Once your headers are in place, move to cell C2. Here, you’ll input the expression =lookup(today(),F:G,E:E). This formula will play a key role in dynamically updating your RSA customizer based on the current date.

Next, go to columns E, F, and G, which will be used to manage your scheduling. In these columns, you’ll list out the different values your chosen attribute might take, alongside their corresponding start and end dates. For example, under the “BrandSaleHeadline” attribute, you might schedule various promotional headlines to appear during different sale periods throughout the year.

Here’s how your sheet might look:

Now look back at the first 3 columns on your sheet. They should look like this:

Now create a second sheet. We’ll call this sheet the Child sheet. It’s going to automatically pull in data from the parent sheet you just created, and will be the one you link to Google Ads later on.

Columns A, B and C will be almost identical to the child sheet, but we will be using a special formula later so we can automatically populate this. So, start by labeling Row 1 Column A “Attribute,” then the next column as “Data type,” then column C as “Account value.” 

Then go to C2 and use this expression to populate the right account value from the parent document: =importrange(“[PARENT DOCUMENT URL HERE]”,”Promotions!C2″)

Your sheet should now look like this:

We recommend adding a date range with default text for any days you’re  not running a promotion. In the example above, we have “Shop Our Collection” appearing as default text.

2. Input attributes

Once you have your feed created, the next step involves inputting your attributes into the Google Ads platform. This can be done either manually or through a bulk upload.

For the manual approach, navigate to “Tools & Settings” in your Google Ads interface, then go to ‘Setup’ followed by “Business Data.” Here, you’ll find an option for “Ad Customizer Attributes.” Click the plus sign to add your attributes. It’s crucial to use the same attribute names that you’ve established in your Parent Google Sheet template to ensure consistency and proper data synchronization.



Alternatively, if you prefer the bulk upload method, again head to “Tools & Settings.” This time, select “Bulk Actions” and then “Uploads.” For this process, you only need to upload columns A to C from your template. 

Be aware that it might take some time for your uploaded attributes to be reflected in the business data section of Google Ads.

3. Set up an automatic schedule

At this point, you’ve almost finished scheduling your ad customizers. Navigate to Tools & Settings, then Bulk Actions, then Uploads, then click the Schedules tab at the top. Select your Child Google Sheet as the data source, and share your Google Sheet with the appropriate email.



And there you have it – Google will automatically pull in the data you populated in the sheets into your RSAs.

Common Challenges When Scheduling RSA Ad Customizers

When we test these sheets with our clients in the wild, we’ve uncovered five common challenges. Be on the lookout for these issues – solving them before they happen can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Not scheduling your upload when the site changes 

The first and most significant hurdle is the mismatch between the scheduled data upload and website content updates. For instance, if the Google Sheet is set to upload at 11 am, but the website changes occur at 3 pm, there’s going to be a discrepancy where the wrong message could be displayed for several hours, or new messaging could appear prematurely. Conversely, if the website updates happen before the scheduled sheet upload, outdated promotions might linger until the new data is imported. Synchronizing these schedules is crucial; it’s best to align them so updates occur simultaneously.

Skipping QA during a message change

Another pitfall is neglecting quality assurance (QA) during message updates. It’s vital to regularly check the business data section to verify that the correct values are in place post-update.

Issues with the IMPORTRANGE function

Then there’s the technical aspect of setting up the IMPORTRANGE function correctly in the Google Sheets template. The ‘child’ template must reliably pull data from the ‘parent’ sheet. If this function isn’t configured correctly, data won’t be imported as needed.

Not sharing access of the Google template for automatic uploads

Pay attention to your access permissions for the Google Sheets template. Google will prompt you with the email address that needs permission to access the ‘child’ sheet for automatic uploads. Overlooking the sharing of your sheet with this address will prevent the system from working.

Having date range gaps in your parent sheet

Lastly, a common oversight is leaving date range gaps in the ‘parent’ sheet. Every single date must be accounted for without overlaps. A practical tip is to have an ‘evergreen’ backup message ready, scheduled to run continuously, ideally through the end of the year, to cover any potential gaps.


Leveraging Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Ads to schedule RSA ad customizers is a game-changer for managing dynamic promotional content. This process not only streamlines your workflows but also ensures that your ads remain relevant and up-to-date, reflecting current promotions without the need for constant manual intervention. 

By adopting this method, you’ll save significant time and effort, allowing you to focus more on strategy and less on the minutiae of ad copy updates. Give it a try and experience a more efficient way to manage your RSAs, keeping your campaigns fresh and engaging with minimal hassle.

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