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Taco Bell unwraps millennial-friendly marketing via Pandora

Taco Bell experienced a 26 percent lift in product awareness during a recent mobile marketing campaign on Pandora that saw listeners become 15 percent more likely to visit a Taco Bell restaurant.

Taco Bell?s significant uptick in brand awareness and in-store traffic suggests that streaming services could be the dark horse in mobile marketing strategy, particularly when it comes to connecting with millennial consumers. A recent case study published on Pandora?s site highlights the struggles some quick service restaurants encounter when appealing to fickle audiences, a challenge that can be overcome with the right mix of brand messages, incentives and advertising vehicles.

?Marketers should certainly utilize audio and mobile display to connect with millennials,? said Joline McGoldrick, vice president of research at Millward Brown Digital, Washington, D.C. ?Millward Brown?s AdReaction study showed that younger audiences spend the lion?s share of their media time on smartphones and tablets (16 to 24-year-olds spend 147 minutes using apps or the mobile Web on their smartphones and 33 minutes using the apps or mobile Web on their tablets). 

?It makes sense to deliver media to screens where they spend the most time. Audio and mobile display are 2 tools to accomplish this.?  

High-stakes competition
Quick service restaurant marketers are battling more competition than ever in the food and beverage industry, prompting them to quickly adapt new technologies, such as mobile ordering, as well as broaden their marketing tactics to include previously-untapped channels.

An executive from Pandora at the Mobile Marketing Association?s SM2 Innovation Summit 2015 detailed how the company leverages the personalization of mobile advertising with campaigns showing the company's heartfelt story and common consumer moments, humanizing the brand and increasing user rates (see story).

Taco Bell recently expanded its menu offerings with breakfast and late night items, and sought to spread the word to fulfill its three key business objectives: drive awareness of the breakfast menu, fuel in-store traffic and repeat visits and develop and sustain a media mix to entice millennial consumers.

With millennials making up 42 percent of Pandora?s digital audience, the fast food chain found an opportune vehicle with which it could reach its target demographic. Additionally, approximately three-fourths of millennials? listening hours occur on smartphone devices, making it easier for Taco Bell to hit these prime customers on mobile.

The Taco Bell ?Breakfast Defectors? campaign leveraged Pandora?s Sponsored Listening tool, as well as welcome mobile interstitial, audio, display and auto-play video advertisements.

Consumers listening to their favorite Pandora stations while on-the-go heard an audio message from Taco Bell play in between songs, informing them of a steadily-gaining movement called ?Breakfast Defectors? while encouraging listeners to claim a complimentary Sausage Biscuit Taco at a nearby location.

The visuals and video ads reinforced this branded message to bolster appetite appeal.

?One of the challenges that we see marketers facing this year is clutter ? how to break through in what can be a visually crowded environment,? Ms. McGoldrick said. ?The uncluttered environment of the mobile videos and the audio advertising allowed Taco Bell to communicate its message without other competing marketing communications ? which can be essential in garnering audience attention.?

Meanwhile, the Sponsored Listening feature enables Pandora users to enjoy one hour of uninterrupted music in exchange for engaging with branded content. Taco Bell tapped this tool to reinforce a positive brand connotation in consumers? minds.

Individuals who voluntarily interact with the content, which could include puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks and videos, are proven to better retain marketers? messages.

Scrumptious results
The ?Breakfast Defectors? campaign garnered highly successful results, especially regarding brand awareness and message association. The fast food chain saw a 28 percent uptick in message association against the campaign tagline alongside a 16 percent product association increase when consumers were asked which QSR has the Biscuit Taco on its menu.

The Biscuit Taco itself experienced a 26 percent lift in awareness among exposed listeners versus unexposed respondents.

The campaign also effectively drove higher levels of in-store traffic and repeat visits by millennial customers. Individuals who listened to the company?s ads were 15 percent more likely to head to a Taco Bell location.

One in seven consumers who did visit a restaurant returned within a ten-day period, proving audio ads? optimal retention rates.

The Mexican food marketer was able to reach an audience at scale via Pandora?s streaming service by identifying the types of advertisements boasting the best millennial response rates. If other QSRs cotton on to this strategy, music streaming services could be 2016?s must-have marketing channel.

?Value exchange is an important principle in mobile advertising,? Ms. McGoldrick said. ?Advertisers want to balance the intrusiveness of the format with the reward (e.g. coupon) that is offered in exchange. 

?For more intrusive forms (e.g. push notifications, mobile interstitials) coupons can be a good way to balance the dynamic between advertiser and audience and potentially lead to in-store conversion.?

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