Icelandic Skyr’s UK sales rocket 200% above forecast

Learn how TrueView and digital ads by Google helped MS Iceland Dairies drive sales


  • Export Icelandic Skyr into the UK
  • Build brand awareness of Icelandic Skyr with UK consumers
  • Drive sales in the UK


  • Repurposed Icelandic TV ad as a UK YouTube TrueView campaign
  • Ran Google display and search ads
  • Delivered advertising messages to specific interest groups and geographic targets


  • Achieved sales 200% above forecast
  • Increased brand awareness by 34%
  • 51% growth in brand interest
  • 43% rise in ad recall

MS Iceland Dairies, a cooperative of 600 farmers and their families, aimed to export its dairy product Icelandic Skyr into the UK. To make it a success, the co-operative turned its original Icelandic TV ads into UK specific YouTube and Google display and text ads. This resulted the retail sales go 200% above the forecast.

With a limited marketing budget, MS Iceland Dairies had to be clever about how it launched Icelandic Skyr into the UK. Choosing a predominantly online strategy and re-purposing its popular TV ads for TrueView and YouTube allowed them to reach as wide an audience as possible while being cost efficient.

“For the UK launch we did not have the funds to promote Icelandic Skyr on TV,” explains Erna Erlendsdóttir, Web and Project Manager for MS Iceland Dairies. “So in our opinion the best way to reach British consumers efficiently and effectively was to use a combination of YouTube and Google display and text ads.”

Moving the logo and product on-screen to the beginning of the digital ad were some of many edits the brand made to its existing TV ad. These edits ensured the company took full advantage of TrueView YouTube formats, exposing viewers to the Icelandic Skyr brand, even if they didn't watch the ad completely.

To increase awareness of the brand and where to buy it in the UK, Icelandic Skyr used Google search and display ads that linked to the brand’s website. The team started off by targeting relevant interest groups as potential buyers such as sports enthusiasts or foodies. It also used geo-targeting to reach users within a 2km radius of the almost 200 Waitrose stores already selling Icelandic Skyr in the UK.

“Google ads are relatively cheap and are an effective way to reach target consumers,” Erna explains. “They give you endless possibilities when it comes to targeting and geo-targeting. With good monitoring you can read the statistics and use the budget in the best possible way. You can see right away what’s working and what isn’t.”

Icelandic Skyr ran the ad for the first 10 days using roughly 70% of the budget. For the next few weeks, previous viewers were targeted again using display banners. For the remainder of the campaign, the brand optimised the interest groups, focusing on those with higher view rates to lower cost per view.

“In addition, we ran general banner campaigns to anyone not exposed to the video ad,” Erna adds. “These banners were primarily shown on health and food related websites with contextual, placement, topic and keyword targeting.”

Brand uplift leads to greater export sales

To assess the effectiveness of its online activity, MS Iceland Dairies ran a Brand Lift study alongside the campaign. This surveyed people who had seen the campaign, comparing people who saw the campaign with those who didn't, in order to assess the campaign’s impact. The study also incorporated search data from Google and YouTube to compare the number of brand searches following consumers’ exposure to the ad.

The Brand Lift study showed a 43% lift in ad recall, while awareness of the brand increased by 34%. Searches for the Skyr brand increased by 51% across everyone exposed to the ad, and increased by 443% among those who watched the complete video ad.

What’s more, sales saw a huge increase on forecast figures. By the end of the campaign, the predicted number of Icelandic Skyr sales in Waitrose had been tripled, leading the supermarket brand to extend the range to further stores, bringing the number of stockists to 350, and also to expand the product selection from three flavours to five.

Talking about marketing Icelandic Skyr again in any future international expansion plans, Erna says, “We’ll put much more emphasis on Google and YouTube than before, because of access to statistics and being able to monitor the campaign. Also, we’re able to reach a large target group of consumers without having to advertise in expensive TV spots. This is a good way to build awareness of a brand when you have limited budget.”

Google ads are an effective way to reach consumers. They give endless possibilities when it comes to targeting and geo-targeting. You can see right away what’s working and what isn’t.“ Erna Erlendsdóttir, Web and Project Manager, MS Iceland Dairies