Successful Google Campaigns: Lessons from Sony

Christina Baldassarre

Mar 20, 20152 min read
Successful Google Campaigns: Lessons from Sony

When Sony spent 60 million on online advertising in 2013, it was widely discussed in the press. When Playstation and Xbox started battling each other regarding TV ad spend in 2014, Sony’s online advertising efforts were sliding under the radar. It’s time to shed some light on how Sony managed to somewhat secretly run some of the most noteworthy advertising campaigns of 2014 according to Google.

A couple of months ago, Google featured Sony as an example of successful engagement campaigns. In particular, Sony was pointed out for the use of lightbox ads.

Sony's Use of Lightbox Ads

Lightbox ads are created with Google AdWords and are an ad format of engagement campaigns. Lightbox ads are a great way to leverage the power of video on websites outside of YouTube via the Google AdWords Display Network. They are basically like banner ads but upon hovering, they expand into a pop-up like window and play a video. At the same time, the website behind the video window is being greyed out to keep the viewer's attention on the ad.

Sony successfully used lightbox ads to advertise several products including Xperia, 4k Ultra TV and Playstation. Additionally, Sony Pictures advertised the movie trailer of “Annie” with lightbox ads as well.

Using New Ad Formats

There are several lessons advertisers can learn from Sony. One is to experiment with new ad formats as soon as they are launched. Engagement campaigns only rolled out recently and Sony jumped on board sooner than most advertisers. Taking advantage of new ways to advertise before competitors get the hang of it can give any business a competitive edge. Additionally, the risk to explore engagement ads was relatively low because AdWords is already well established and performance can be tracked easily. Additionally, campaigns can be highly customized which reduces unnecessary costs.

Furthermore, Sony used an advertising platform that offers a lot of control regarding budget allocation and targeting. One of the reasons AdWords is so popular is because you can see and control daily ad spend and bids, when the ad is shown, and who is viewing the ads. Besides the fact that this makes it easy to remove unprofitable traffic sources, it makes it easy to significantly scale campaigns within a matter of days.

Online Video Advertisements

Last but not least, Sony invested in video, one of the most engaging ways to advertise. Video conversion rates are usually high and costs per view are anywhere between 2 and 10 cents. This beats most cost-per-click based advertising formats, especially when it comes to competitive industries like B2B services and law. According to YuMe, Sony has increased spending on video advertising last year to better market their brand — as has Microsoft, much to Sony’s despair.

Video campaigns can be paid or free depending on the traffic source. Typical platforms for video advertising include Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, AdWords, Yahoo!, tumblr and Facebook. JCPenny has recognized the power of video and is following in Sony’s footsteps. The company recently ran a video campaign via Twitter with a cost-per-view of $0.04 and mentioned that it was the most successful social media campaign they ever had.

Famous examples of successful video campaigns run via Google include the #ALSIceBucketChallenge which was integrated with Facebook and triggered more than 2.4 million challenge videos (YouTube and Facebook combined). Also successful is the Always #LikeAGirl campaign which resulted in 53.3M views for the original video on YouTube alone.

If you are not running video campaigns yet or would like to check on your competitors to create an ever-so-competitive campaign Sony style, take advantage of Semrush and find the exact keywords competitors are currently betting on.

Do you have any questions or success stories about advertising with lightbox ads and video campaigns? Please share with us in the comments!

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Christina Baldassarre is a Social Media Consultant and Founder of and Zebra Advertisement, a multilingual PPC agency and Google Partners All-Stars winner. She was shortlisted by the 2014 U.S. Search Awards in the category of “Best Use of Social Media in a Search Campaign.” Her most recent article for Semrush was “5 Ways to Better Sell Your Skill Set.”