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What That Wacko Geico Guy Can Teach Us

Posted on 8.12.2007

Unless you've been living under several million pounds of rocks, you know the powerful capabilities of online video and especially user-generated video. Marketers and advertisers of all kinds are scrambling to take advantage of the exploding popularity of the medium. One such company has found a way to take user-generated video - without altering it or using their company within the video - and create a wildly successful campaign. Geico has been running two commercials: the first is some guy with a knack for making funny (or annoying, depending on your taste) faces and sounds and the other is some college kids in a dorm hall jousting with mattresses. Both have the tagline "There may be better ways to spend 15 minutes online. Geico: 15 minutes could save you 15 percent on car insurance." In essence, the ad acknowledges their target audience's heavy use of online video and pushes Geico's online quoting service all at once, all in about 15 seconds.

The most interesting aspect of both of these ads is that it's essentially an online video with post-roll advertising - except it's on TV. Which would seem to indicate that online video will do just fine with post- and pre-roll advertising on any number of video clips, although it appears that post-roll would be most effective. Geico flashes thier logo and tagline with only four seconds of screen time at the end of the video. This is hardly enough time for a user to close a window or hit the back button - they have already relaxed their trigger fingers because they are being entertained. Wheras pre-roll, the user has the option to back out before the entertainment part of the video even begins.

It's now all about entertainment and branding to a particular audience. Geico has taken the simple idea of spending time online, entertained an audience and pushed their own agenda in a remarkably easy and cost-effective fashion. Note that Geico has plenty of other insurance products (motorcycle, home, renters, life, umbrella) but is pushing one particular product - auto insurance. The crowd they are marketing to spends time online and has seen plenty of stupid online videos and is considered a prime target for cost-saving auto insurance.

Another interesting aspect of the campaign is taking notice of the video's duration. The man from the video has several other videos posted online. In fact there is an entire series of videos with him making faces and noises. A look at these videos on YouTube shows that shorter clips seem to be more effective in terms of user views. The video featured in the Geico commercial is a portion taken from a more extensive clip titled, "Strange Faces and Noises I Can Make III." There are a few different versions of that clip. One is 4:35 seconds long and shows 239,210 views. The other is 1:39 seconds long and received more than 2.9 million views. Clearly indicating a threshold for online viewing - that shorter is definitely sweeter.

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