Taco Bell’s Content-First Ad Approach

Taco Bell knows that content is king and that putting branded content where its audience already goes is key.

That’s why the Mexican fast-food brand’s latest campaign for the launch of its new products the “.99¢ Loaded Grillers” and the “Variety Taco 12 Pack” involves multiple media integrations with media partners like BuzzFeed and ESPN and platforms like Waze and Pandora.

Working with BuzzFeed, Taco Bell agency Digitas came up with a custom “sharing disabled” feature which surprises users by disabling the sharing function when they first try to share one of the Taco Bell sponsored stories on BuzzFeed. With Waze, a free mobile navigation app for iPhones or Androids, Digitas created several brand integrations for Taco Bell. Brand placements on the platform include branded pins on maps for every Taco Bell location, a full-screen takeover when users are stopped and within the vicinity of a Taco Bell encouraging them to pick Taco Bell over grocery stores and other game-day food locations. Taco Bell is the first national advertiser on the platform.

Digitas’ vp and group director of media Mark Chambers took time to talk about the media integrations and the importance of native advertising.

Why is this interesting?
If you look at what we did with BuzzFeed, it’s relevant and it’s entertaining. We’re doing something that unexpected. It’s about celebrating not having to share. Today with social media, the default has become sharing — and oversharing. We are sharing so much, but often we forget to just enjoy the moment. It’s very difficult in today’s marketplace both on mobile and desktop to capture the attention of that 18-24-year-old audience. And what’s exciting about Waze is that we are the first advertiser to be on that platform.

How will you measure the success of these media-integration efforts?
We track sales daily and look at what people are buying. We look at how often people are spending time with our advertising, and when they go to the Taco Bell site, it’s not like they can buy a taco from there, but there are high-value tasks like using the restaurant locator — those actions are what we look for.

How does mobile come into play?
We have a core millennial audience. And looking at their consumption habits, they use their mobile devices as the mechanism to get their content. Any partnerships we do, we always make sure the first dollar goes to mobile devices. If you look on Google, we’ve extended the listings on Google mobile. It’s mobile first and desktop second.

Is there room for banners on mobile, or is sponsored content the future of mobile advertising?
It’s combination of both. You see today that there are a lot of brands starting to produce content themselves if they haven’t done it already. You’ll start to see brands not just doing native advertising; you’ll actually start to see some native content being produced as well. If there is a native way that brands can surround that conversation more, that is what works. You want to be inside the editorial content, but there is still value being on the periphery of the page. We still get a lot of awareness around that content. So I think you will see brands doing a combination of both banner ads and native advertising. But I do think native content and native advertising will increase and come to the forefront next year.

Is native advertising just another buzzword that’s being thrown around too much?
I don’t think it’s a buzzword. The idea of brands creating their own content and being relevant to the user, be it a video or an article, is really important. I think if brands can figure out how to add user-value, then native will become prominent in the future. And it’s not something that just turned up yesterday; it’s been around for a while.