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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Ancestry x VOX Media Group: All of Us

Entered in Branded Series, Branded Content, Storytelling


In 2020, consumers were craving connection and humanity more than ever, especially knowing we would not experience this holiday season in the traditional sense.  Despite the global pandemic that kept us apart physically, Ancestry is the unique gift that brings consumers closer to family, past and present, through shared history.  The brand needed to position themselves as the perfect family activity and gifting solution in an authentic and compelling way. 

On behalf of Ancestry, The Content Collective enlisted Vox Media to achieve three Holiday objectives:

  1. Increase brand awareness during the unprecedented 2020 Holiday season
  2. Increase product familiarity and position Ancestry as a gift that connects us to loved ones, near and far
  3. Create an integrated program that celebrates all the ways in which our shared family history enriches our lives and brings us closer together

Strategy and Execution

This two-part digital series featured photographer, Sam Ortiz, and jazz pianist, Christian Sands, as they used their Ancestry family history research to create uniquely personal gifts inspired by their heritage.  Both content pieces dove deep into their lineage.  Christian traced all the way back to his fifth great-grandfather who, unbeknownst to Christian, was also a musician and rights activist.  The unique similarities between Christian and his ancestor were deeply moving and inspired Christian to compose a Cape Verdian Morna, an homage to the type of music his fifth great-grandfather played in the early 1800s.  Each video concluded with talent sharing their gifts with their family member(s) virtually; showcasing how Ancestry brings you closer to your family, past and present, through your shared history.

By using human interest stories to resonate with audiences, we positioned Ancestry as the gift that brings families closer together even amongst an unprecedented holiday season of social distancing.  We inspired viewers with engaging records that sparked creative ideas to personalize an Ancestry gift.

Through strategic distribution across Vox Media’s various channels, Ancestry was able to cut through the holiday clutter to reach their audiences at scale with high-impact media proven to engage users above industry benchmarks.  The branded content pieces were housed within multi-media articles on Vox’s property,  Integrated ad units, high impact video units, and social posts ran across Vox Media Group’s network of sites including Vulture, The Cut, NY Mag, and social platforms.


The All of Us Branded Content series drove a strong VCR of 11%, 3x Vox’s benchmark. Both videos greatly improved Ancestry’s brand and product familiarity.  Dynata brand study results show an +8 point and +6 point increase respectively for those who saw the video, showcasing the power of personal storytelling.

“Ancestry helps brings families closer together” and “Ancestry is a great gift” saw significant lifts (+6 points) as both videos drove home the sentiment that Ancestry is a meaningful gift and showcased connection and emotion between children and parents.

Strategic distribution resulted in overperformance of both creatives.  Part 1 (Sam’s Video) views overdelivered at 106% while Part 2 (Christian’s Video) views overdelivered at 125%.  Part 1 (Sam’s Video) sparked high Video Completion Rate 7.35% increasing brand familiarity, while Part 2 (Christian’s Video) drove higher engagement rates and awareness due to the average 5:31 time spent on page, 4:00 longer than Vox Media’s 1:31 benchmark.  Christian’s video drove above benchmark average time spent on page because his story provided a complex family history that went back five generations and lent itself to amazing parallels to his current life.  This emphasized how people related strongly to the family history portion of each video, thus connecting with the brand.  While Christian’s video saw more time spent on page, Sam’s video also outperformed benchmark generating an average of 2:06. Combined, the videos averaged 3:36 on page, 165% above benchmark.

Social sentiment was positive across the board with audiences discussing the impact of what they had just watched, leading to thought provoking commentary, and sharing of their own experiences researching their family history.

High impact media placements contributed to the integrated programs success, including the Athena unit which overperformed by almost 500% further cementing All of Us as a highly effective, engaging holiday campaign. 


Video for Ancestry x VOX Media Group: All of Us

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Content Collective, Ancestry


Entry Credits