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Luxury Italian retailer Yoox has announced it is running an exciting new type of pre-roll ad on YouTube: 15-second buy-it-or-lose-it offers. The company will be runnign the ads until mid-December in a few regions globally.

The ads are 15-second countdowns featuring a unique product, so. The user has to make a decision to buy on the spot or they will lose out and the item will be offered to someone else. Even if they go looking for it later, they won’t be able to find the product on the Yoox website, as it will have been exclusive to the pre-roll ad. To add to the tension, the creative depicts impending threats to the product to bring the countdown to life, so the ad positions the item as needing “saving” from dangers such as laser beams creeping towards it.

This is an interesting tactic from the retailer, and one that makes a lot of sense from a behavioral perspective. It takes advantage of the scarcity heuristic — the notion that people are likely to perceive something as more valuable if it is hard to obtain, whether that’s down to a restricted quantity or time to purchase. Here, Yoox, Google, and Stink Studios, who worked on the ads together, are using time as the forceful factor.

The scarcity heuristic isn’t new for advertisers – from limited time offers to capsule collections, marketing messaging has for a long time been adjusted to create a sense of scarcity. More recently, dynamic digital creative with incorporated product feeds (or, indeed countdowns) has been used effectively to the same end.

However, there are a few things that make this campaign particularly interesting. For one, these are really high end products – not often the subject of countdown campaigns. Additionally, this particular use of a video platform – YouTube, known for its high engagement rates – is an exciting call to action combined with some very high quality creative. The aesthetics of the ads make it valuable as a branding piece as well as a behavior driver, creating a full funnel ad experience. It also taps into the exclusivity that fuels higher-end fashion purchases – but adds a sense of urgency often lost when making bigger purchases.

These differentiators all combine to make this a standout move in digital advertising, deploying behavioral planning and branding to create a great end experience for the user.

Alexandra Spiliotopoulou is Head of Digital Display at London-based Total Media.

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