A clinic in content – how the University of Melbourne connected people with research

As one of Australia’s largest research institutions – second only to CSIRO – the University of Melbourne needed a campaign that would make world-leading studies accessible to the Australian public. The solution? A great story.

This article originally appeared in The Madtech BriefMarketing‘s second print issue for 2019

Campaign: Made possible by Melbourne

Client: University of Melbourne

Lead agency: Keep Left 

Media agency: McCann Media

Background

Madtech 200As Australia’s largest research-intensive university and the second largest research institution behind CSIRO, the University of Melbourne undertakes research that addresses major social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.

At the heart of this world-leading research is the goal of sharing advances that help shape our ever-changing world. To do this, the University of Melbourne launched ‘Made Possible by Melbourne’, a campaign that aims to increase public engagement with the university’s research through a targeted, digital content marketing strategy.

To launch the campaign, we selected three research stories to spotlight:

  • Music as Medicine
  • Ending Avoidable Blindness, and
  • Saving Lives when the Power Goes Out.

Objectives

The overarching objective of the ‘Made Possible by Melbourne’ campaign was to increase public awareness and engagement with the University of Melbourne’s research, driving recognition and a greater understanding of the impact and contribution this work has on society. Our tailored audience journey and retargeting strategy operated across two distinct phases: awareness and engagement. In the awareness phase, we set a target of 10 million impressions across campaign content for the entire campaign. In the engagement phase, we set a target of 1.1 million engagements for the entire campaign.

Strategy

The University of Melbourne worked with Keep Left to develop a content marketing strategy that broke away from the typical tropes of academic content to focus on the human impact stories. Working closely with researchers, and those directly affected by their work, we used biographical storytelling and real, live-action scenarios to show our audience how the lives of individuals and communities have been improved by the University’s research.

The heroes of our stories were not actors or professionals, but real, everyday people. The themes explored across the stories were complex, and the people directly featured in our content were often very specific to a particular audience or society group. In order to engage our broad target audience, our stories were crafted to encourage emotional engagement, and to show the very real, applicable and tangible effects of the research that any viewer could recognise and understand the value of. Underlying each story was the important message that the impact creates ripple effects across society – and even globally.

Execution

We crafted a content ecosystem and digital media strategy designed to move our audience through a clear journey of awareness to understanding and engagement, using a suite of assets tailored to different platforms. We used the University’s distinctive blue colour palette, brand typography, and a recurring framing device to subtly bring the diverse subject matter together as a cohesive series, while still allowing the stories to be the focus. Both video content and image carousels began immediately with the story, with the University of Melbourne logo appearing at the very end of assets to encourage recall.

Across the campaign stories, we amplified30-second hero videos, 15-second retargeting videos, video carousels, image carousels, video and image link adverts and Instagram stories. We optimised these across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Clearsteam and Dataxu. This allowed us to reach our audience at several touchpoints, with the final destination being the University of Melbourne’s research publishing website, Pursuit, where our audience could discover in-depth information and learn more about the research outcomes via longform articles and podcasts.

Crucially, we employed AB testing throughout each story, to ensure we optimised the strongest performing content, allocated budget to platforms according to best ROI and continually reviewed our strategy to best serve our audience. In addition to the content marketing strategy, we also supported the campaign content via earned media with features across radio, print and online outlets. We focused on media with a digital platform, so we could best optimise SEO and link through to the video content on YouTube and article on the Pursuit website.

Results

Music as Medicine

UniMelb Music as Medicine

The first story, titled ‘Music as Medicine,’ generated significant performance outcomes,  exceeding a number of overall campaign KPIs in a single story. We achieved 9.78 million impressions – almost 10 times the target of the campaign in its entirety. We also reached 2.6 million video views, with a 49% completed video view rate on YouTube. We also saw a huge spike in Pursuit website traffic and eDM sign-ups with over 200 thousand article reads. Music as Medicine achieved a CTR of 1.92% on Facebook, exceeding the 0.9% benchmark figure by 113%.

Ending Avoidable Blindness

unimelb ending avoidable blindness

The second story, titled ‘Ending Avoidable Blindness,’ generated more than nine million impressions and 1.25 million video views, with a cost per view of less than $0.05 on Facebook and YouTube. The click through rate on Facebook exceeded the industry benchmark by more than 90%, directing over 15,000 people to the Pursuit website to learn more – a very high figure given the very specific nature of the research subject matter. There was a 46% complete view rate on YouTube, meaning the creative was successful at capturing and holding our target audience’s attention.

Saving Lives when the Power Goes Out

Unimelb saving lives when the power goes out

The third story, closing out 2018, was ‘Saving Lives When the Power Goes Out.’ This story achieved over 9.6 million impressions and over 1.26 million video views with a view through rate of 51% on YouTube.  The cost per click on Facebook was less than $0.54, which meant the assets drove conversions at an extremely low cost. Our content directed more than 62 thousand people to the Pursuit website for more detailed information about the research, while driving donations to support clinical trials and make life saving FRE02 technology available where it was needed most. We achieved over 15 thousand post reactions across Facebook and Instagram, with 274 comments and 931 shares. 

 

Over a five month period the overall ‘Made Possible by Melbourne’ campaign generated 28 million impressions, with five million video views and a 49% complete video view rate on YouTube. This means that almost half of people chose to watch the video in its entirety, despite having the option to skip – a result more than three times higher than the industry average of 15%. Crucially, our content marketing strategy directed 277,000 people to the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit website, where people could read about the research and sign up to the eDM. However, a great qualitative marker of the campaign success was the organic conversations that the content inspired online. Across diverse audiences, the stories drove conversations not only praising the research or discussing how people could find out more, but also of people sharing their own stories and how the content affected them. This two-way dialogue cemented the research’s impact in the real world, demonstrating its positive contributions to society at large. 

As the campaign moves into 2019, the always-active approach to storytelling continues. Cutting-edge research is being investigated and developed into narratives, featuring stories from the diverse worlds of science, health, humanities, environment and many more. In line with the ongoing strategy, the human impact of the research will be the focus of our storytelling, demonstrating its ripple effects across society.

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