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The Goals

  • Raise brand awareness of Universal Pictures’ latest films
  • Promote new releases such as The Huntsman and Jason Bourne
  • Leverage ad-centric data to profile and target audience passions
  • Stimulate pre-booking sales

The Approach

  • Unified media buying across all film releases into single platform
  • Consolidated marketing assets including online video, YouTube TrueView, Google Preferred, YouTube Mastheads and video banners
  • Produced data-driven creatives mixing 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data
  • Completed media buys using both open auction and Programmatic Guaranteed

The Results

  • New media buying approach enabled brand to meet and exceed goals
  • 68%* average view-through rate
  • 2.5* average frequency
  • 69%* average viewability


Published May 2017

Universal Pictures France wanted to focus on audience planning rather than media planning, so they partnered with KR Media on a programmatic buying approach built around DoubleClick Bid Manager to achieve their ambition.

Universal Pictures France needed to efficiently promote new releases of movies like The Huntsman, Warcraft, Jason Bourne and The Secret Life of Pets. While branding focused on views-reach-viewability was the primary goal, they also wanted to incorporate some performance elements, such as remarketing to drive interested users to pre-book tickets online.

Data helps deliver the best audience 

In order to focus on the entire user journey, the team’s first step was to tag the YouTube environment of each film to collect data. This would allow them to remarket to this audience programmatically. 

To reach audiences on relevant sites in the two weeks prior to the release of each movie, Universal Pictures France partnered with several leading online video publishers to secure suitable inventory through Programmatic Guaranteed. Universal Pictures France could even incorporate the publishers’ third-party data directly into DoubleClick Bid Manager.

The greater capabilities of DoubleClick Bid Manager for video was a key driver of our success, since being able to follow the journeys of our audiences throughout several types of media was critical to us.

Amélie Berthaud, Client Partner, KR Media

In the two weeks leading up to the release of each movie, the team initiated an open auction strategy on video using Custom Affinities in DoubleClick Bid Manager. Depending on the movie content, multiple sources of Google data could be layered to create exceptional targeting opportunities. For example, for the release of Ride Along 2, Universal Pictures France could target not just cinema lovers, but also people interested in hip-hop. Similarly, they could also target video gamers for the release of Warcraft.

To reach audiences during the week of each film’s release, the team turned to Google Preferred, which aggregates YouTube's top content into easy-to-buy packages organized around categories of content. This meant an ad for The Secret Life of Pets, for example, would appear next to YouTube content popular among the audience likely to be interested in that particular film.

DoubleClick Bid Manager enabled us to unify our branding media buying assets by combining our first-party data – mostly engagement and views of YouTube and online videos – with targeted and relevant second- and third-party data to better align our efforts to reach our audiences and resonate with their passions.

Sandy Livoireau, Client Partner, KR Media

Throughout the campaigns, Universal Pictures France ran data-driven creatives, tailoring ads to key audience segments. For example, they used Custom Affinities to present a dedicated creative highlighting the best action sequences in The Huntsman to an audience segment made up of fans of the film as well as action movies. Meanwhile, a more generic creative was served to fans of fantasy movies via topic targeting on YouTube. 

The final step was to reach viewers who had engaged with a film’s advertising with remarketing messages encouraging them to go to cinemas and eventually pre-book click-to-collect cinema tickets. This meant that in the days leading up to the film’s general release, audiences would see a YouTube Masthead, TrueView ad or video ad reminding them to make a plan to watch the film.

Outstanding results through smarter buying 

Using previous approaches, Universal Pictures France campaigns achieved an average view-through rate of 60% and with a frequency of four impressions exceeding the goal of two to three impressions. In terms of reach, the goals were to secure maximum viewability in cross device environment, to obtain a better completion rate and to reduce the CPM.

Programmatic is becoming more and more a part of our digital campaigns. This innovative and exhaustive buying mode enables us to reach a more targeted audience, especially on specific affinities, to better communicate our movie releases in cinemas.

Lorelei Schirar, Digital Manager, NBC Universal France

Using a holistic media buying approach enabled the brand to meet and exceed all goals. For example, the integrated World of Warcraft campaign delivered: 

  • average view-through rate of 74% 
  • average frequency of 2.8
  • average viewability of 87% 
  • CPM that was 20% below the benchmark

Going forward, Universal Pictures France is committed to introducing further type of data and marketing innovation across the user journey, with native and custom lightbox ads set to feature in upcoming campaigns for the brand’s latest cinema releases. Last but not least the cross-device capabilities of DoubleClick Bid Manager to follow user paths will deploy later in 2017.

*Results from campaign for The Secret Life of Pets


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