Volvo advertising, television vs Facebook: a case study

Volvo A40In late 2012, Volvo launched the new Volvo V40, which competes against media heavyweights Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the mid-sized hatchback segment. The launch was primarily supported by TV advertising, although in Sweden, the UK and Netherlands the launch was further supported by significant investment on Facebook, with Volvo utilising an integrated campaign: 60sec TV spot + 12 FB static digital creatives, which focussed on key V40 product features.

Volvo and Facebook were very keen to measure the effectiveness of the integrated campaign, rather than focus on the narrow perspective provided by traditional digital campaign metrics. At Northstar Research Partners, we developed a methodology to include more established, holistic measures of brand equity, in the context of all advertising – offline as well as online.

We focused on three areas that measure the inter-correlative effect of the combined TV and Facebook campaigns:

  • ·       Audience reach
  • ·       Audience relevance
  • ·       Influence on the Volvo brand and the V40

 We utilised panel tagging technology to identify and track 2,300 consumers across the three test markets who had been exposed to one or both of the campaigns. The analysis focused on the consumers who displayed a level of residual memory to the advertising.

Our findings concluded that:

“In the context of a premium car brand, Facebook is a compelling media channel which complements, rather than replaces, TV / offline advertising.”

The research went on to point out a number of further implications:

1.     TV remains the dominant medium in reaching the widest audience.

a.     However, Facebook with 50% average audience penetration was able to provide a significant incremental audience.

2.     Facebook audience relevance was similar to TV, with comparable proportions of premium car owners/ intenders, and a higher incidence of near future purchase intenders.

3.     Facebook becomes a stronger value proposition in markets with high TV media cost.

4.     TV is more engaging, and better able to create a positive brand halo. Facebook is more effective at a product level; and better able to drive positive movements in product opinion and consideration.

a.     Increases in consideration were particularly high, when TV and Facebook exposure overlapped.

The last implication is particularly important as it points to strong synergies, achieved via the combination of TV with social media. The research proved the TV campaign had a significant, positive, effect on opinion and consideration, for the primary Volvo brand, while Facebook drove opinion, and consideration uplifts, for the V40 specifically. V40 consideration was at the highest level when both TV and Facebook campaigns were simultaneously recalled.

The Effect of Different Creative Executions

The results of the analysis were clear and conclusive. The case study also demonstrated that greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness are achievable by spreading the media spend across a wider mix of channels.

However, we need to consider the effect of video advertising versus static advertising. How would the results change if a video campaign was shown on Facebook?

Facebook, Twitter and Google are actively trying to woo advertisers with the prospect of video advertising away from TV onto their own platforms. A widespread increase of video advertising on digital and social media channels is inevitable – implying that more of the deeper consumer engagement characteristics of TV will spill over to digital advertising. When one then considers the increasing levels of social media penetration in younger generations, and the lower cost proposition compared to TV, we are likely to witness an increasing, and justifiable, shift of TV ad spend towards digital and social media channels.

It is possible, plausible even, that we are on the cusp of a wholesale shift in media buying patterns towards digital? And, dare I say it, market forces themselves may even begin to dictate a rebalancing in the offline/ online media pricing structures – in the not too distant future…

Dimitris Samiotakis, Senior Research Director, Northstar Research Partners

For more information, or to talk to Dimitris about the findings, please go to

  • Marty

    Interesting article, would be great to see any insights on the number of test drives this campaign has generated.