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Hyundai partnered with Eyeview to use social media to target consumer segments based on buying behavior.

LAS VEGAS – As the mid-sized sedan segment shrinks, marketing excellence has become a hot topic for brands like Hyundai, which have traditionally relied on car sales.

For a personalized video campaign on Facebook and Instagram promoting the Sonata 2018, Hyundai could not pursue the goal of reaching broad groups like Millennials. It had to be hunted specifically for in-market sedan buyers, a pool that is flattening from year to year.

Hyundai confined itself to behavior-based users and responded to audiences like limousine loyalists, users with affinity for the sonata and owners of competing models from Nissan, Honda, Chevrolet and others.

Digital advertising company Eyeview completed the video rollout in the fourth quarter of 2017, creating 20 spots of Hyundai footage announcing various Sonata features and making direct comparisons with competing models. Owners of certain models would see ads that spoke directly to them. For example, a video that targets a Camry owner may show that the Sonata has a trunk opener for the hands-free kit while Toyota's sedan does not. Or a Volkswagen Passat owner might see a video stating that the Sonata has ventilated the front seats, a comfort the Passat does not have.

While the video flash was not aimed at specific age groups, the segments could be moved in a certain direction. For example, the limousine's loyalist audience would likely grow older because the group was defined as having purchased several limousines, said Brian Diamond, vice president, Group Media Director of Canvas Worldwide, an agency that is the result of a joint venture between the independent agency Horizon Media and Innocean, the agency of Hyundai.

The campaign reached 5.4 million households and 2,227 new Sonata sales were credited during the period. Data provider Oracle, the source of the audience data, was able to track buy-through rates.

"This program started with one question: who are the real people who will buy these cars – not at a high level, not at the data level, but on households?" Diamond said during the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable here last month. "These are the people who most likely buy."

He added, "Great stories do not start with great tactics, they start with an understanding of who we tell this story to."

Hyundai Sonata from 2018

The same principle applies to large-volume products that could address multiple customer segments. The Lexus agency, Team One, partnered with Eyeview this year to provide RX L crossover adverts for travel enthusiasts and corporate mothers. The campaign consisted of 18 videos addressing a key issue: would consumers be more responsive to ads that focus on lifestyle or vehicles?

Eyeview created ads that highlight the different life stages of each audience. In order to reach company mothers, the videos in one scene depicted a woman in a business suit, while in another she had a pram pushed. For the traveler, the ad showed a man with a surfboard taking pictures and walking with his family. Eyeview mixed the sequencing of these scenes into several versions of the videos to see how different arrangements would affect the audience.

Lexus learned during the campaign that the lifestyle videos outperformed vehicle-focused spots, resulting in more engagement and longer viewing times.

Car manufacturers can put themselves at a disadvantage if they develop too many different audiences for a campaign, but only run one video to reach them all, said Ben Sarmiento, Eyeview's Vice President of Auto Sales.

The Sonata campaign was not about playing the long game of brand building. The goal was more immediate.

"We think people are scrolling and watching the video and then taking action, we make specific adjustments for a subtle audience," Diamond said, adding, "The goal here is to get the right audience to agree look very specific point and beat them with the right frequency. "

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