February 6, 2018

Which Ads Won The Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl ads this year were up to par with the previous years. They were clever, real-time relevant, funny and featured a ton of our favorite celebrities.
But let’s talk about what was new and different.
The spots that grabbed my eyes were the ones that spoke directly to the customer. And not figuratively as used in the common marketing saying, but they actually addressed the audience as viewers of an advertisement.
Advertising during the Super Bowl has come a long way over the years. What started as a break for the sponsors, has grown into a supporting act of the game itself — a highly anticipated component of the entertainment. In these hours, marketers are putting forth their very best content to appear in front of the largest audiences. But let’s just say,  by this point people are 100% aware of they are being marketed to, no matter how creative these ads have become.
The brands this year that decided to own up and acknowledge, “yes, we are marketing to you right now,” were the ones that made me appreciate them and their transparency. It was nice to have a good laugh knowing that they understand, and give them a nod of approval. Here are some favorites:
Tide: Did a comical mash-up spoof of familiar Super Bowl commercials from other industries. Mimicking the vibe of each commercial, Tide would stop and reminded the customer that every ad with clean clothes is a Tide ad.
Jeep: Decided to expose the marketer’s thoughts behind the average car commercial. They stated that they don’t need some “overarching human truth” to sell their vehicle, and they don't need a manifesto, all they need is for the customer to see what the Jeep itself can do.  

Skittles: Decided to take an unconventional route and go live on Facebook during the Superbowl. The idea was to create a story leading up to Sunday explaining that Skittles would only be advertising to one single boy during the Superbowl.
Michelob Ultra: In this hilarious spot, Chris Pratt gets the part to “star” in a Michelob Ultra commercial but later finds out what that really means in a second Michelob Ultra commercial.

Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights

February 1, 2018

The Big Game — Super Bowl LII Ads

AdWeek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker received a fresh round of updates this week giving the world an early glimpse of what will likely be some of the most talked about brands of the year.
Personally, I try not to do too much "teaser" viewing before the event because I still like to experience the ads in the traditional environment and evaluate the impact with other folks, who don't work in advertising.
It's fun to see which spots demand attention and what may get missed in real time.
Also, there's no way I won't see every spot by early next week so I try pretty hard not to get too far in front of game-time unveiling. However, the Avocados from Mexico spot got me curious. It's arguably the most relevant product for the experience. They've done some pretty absurd and inventive things in the past, so I just had to check it out.

The spot is pretty clever and goes a long way to make a really simple point. But what really got me was the peculiar Chris Elliott cameo. I'm a big fan (See Get a Life and Handsome Boy Modeling School). His absurd presence in the ad forced me to YouTube which paid off with another Chris Elliott spot that sets up the first one.
Bizarre, entertaining, and well received with this focus group of one. This foray into Super Bowl sneak peeks should whet the appetite and keep me satisfied enough to wait for the full course on Sunday.

Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

May 9, 2017

Is TV Viewing Going Over The Top?

Television viewership and viewing preferences have been making a shift due to the rise of over-the-top television (OTT).
An eMarketer interview titled, “Google Discusses the Rise of OTT TV, How Viewers Are Using the Services” with Rany Ng, Director of Product Management at Google, gives us Google’s explanation of OTT, which helps to define it. “When we refer to OTT, we really refer to over-the-top services that allow users to watch TV content that’s delivered over the internet instead of traditional TV infrastructure. Hulu, Netflix and CBS are examples of OTT services. And OTT services’ content can be streaming, it can be on-demand, and it can be viewed on a number of different types of devices – from a desktop or laptop, to mobile, to something like Roku or a smart TV.”
Ng also goes on to discuss why consumers are tuning into OTT and in what ways. “They can watch things on the go. It’s on their own schedule, so it’s very different from linear television where it is scheduled viewership.” In this day and age where consumers expectations of personalized products and services are never-ending, we can understand why people have responded positively to OTT. A separate poll from eMarketer shows us that 48% of U.S. internet users strongly prefer to watch TV via OTT services.

But what does this mean from an advertising perspective?
Well, TV audiences have always been a primary consideration of media buying. And it is vital to be aware of the channels that win viewership and the characteristics of different audiences across channels. It’s our job to keep up with changing trends while keeping a non-biased, full circle view of the landscape.
Advertisers will have to continue to strategically place different cross-channel media according to their own goals and audience composition. For instance, research from eMarketer shows that Millennials are responding a lot quicker to OTT than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. It also shows that the trend hasn't necessarily been adopted strongly by other countries like Canada, Australia and the UK. Many other factors need to be weaved in and considered by advertisers before buying media.
Regardless, OTT adoption is an accelerating trend and data shows that it’s a legitimate contender for media dollars.
But as it grows into its own, OTT is uncovering its own issues around increasing demand and the effect that has on inventory. Also, because these platforms allow companies to deliver their ads to a very specific target audience of their own design, users are sometimes left sitting through the same advertisements repeatedly throughout their episodes because they are the prime target of that ad. This frequency saturation can affect consumer attitudes and brand sentiment in less positive ways, actually driving consumers away.
Each medium has its own strengths and blind spots. Broadcast TV ads build the basis for a brand over time because of its ability to hit a wide range of people, while digital television is growing as a complementary method, contributing to a multichannel customer experience. OTT, Connected TV or streaming video reaches audiences that may not be watching as much scheduled programming. TV also generally shows the most significant ROI over time, with digital showing a strong ROI early on but usually dying out sooner.
As new trends and forms of media consumption arise, advertisers will continue to assess the best media channels to reach audiences, meet client needs and complete business goals. This can only be done by keeping up with current consumer channels and navigating the steady rate of change in the industry. We will never stop learning.
Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights

February 3, 2017

Brands Vying for Super Bowl Spotlight

It’s Super Bowl time! The big game is synonymous with creative advertising but this year the creativity is just as much about inventive execution as clever concept. So, what’s next?
Brands are not settling for a $5 million, 30-second tv spot. More than ever, they're striving to make an impact on viewers through relevant, timely, and yes, creative ideas. We have kept a close eye on Adweek’s 2017 Super Bowl Ad Tracker and here are some of the freshest approaches to Super Bowl LI advertising:
Heinz will not run an ad during the game but is declaring Feb 6 (the Monday after) a national holiday called, “Smunday.” All employees at Kraft Heinz offices in the United States will have that day off and a petition has been released in hopes to get 100,000 signatures. According to Adweek, Nicole Kulwicki (head of Heinz) says, "That's how many we think we need to get Congress to take us seriously," she says. "We're doing this in good fun, but with the intent that it will actually become a national holiday.”  Brilliant. If they can get traction for a national holiday – and let’s be honest, that makes some very popular sense – the brand will forever benefit.
Snickers will have the first ever live ad during the Super Bowl. Adam Driver of HBO’s Girls and character “Kylo Ren” in Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be starring in the commercial alongside of horses and cowboys. That is the only information we know as of now from the teasers. Going on right now is a live stream from the set of the commercial that started yesterday at noon and continuing until midnight tonight. Taking a live streaming content approach to television advertising is a pretty radical move. We’ll see more of this.
Hyundai Motor America CMO Dean Evans says, “The Super Bowl is the biggest day in advertising, and following our incredibly successful 2016, we wanted to push the creativity and storytelling even further.” This year Hyundai plans to air a 90-second ad right after the game is over and before the trophy ceremony. The catch is that the spot will be filmed during the actual game, documentary style. There is still little information on what to expect during the spot but condensing the concept and production to embrace real time probably requires it to be not only secret but unfinished. We’ll see!
Intel took a risk by filming a 30-second ad starring Tom Brady before the Patriots had even made it to the Super Bowl. Their leap of faith will now pay off and the brand will gain more attention from Brady’s fans during the spot. We love this example because it leverages the production of more traditional spots but the brand took a big gamble on embedding the event into the creative for some massively topical payoff.
Febreze will definitely attract eyes during their bold spot about the “halftime bathroom break” which is airing in the second quarter. The company has found a comical way to stay relevant during the game and give a friendly reminder that Febreze is there for you, as funny as it sounds. Even a more typically produced spot is working to speak directly to the home audience experience.
It’s a fascinating time in media and advertising. Remember Oreo’s epic tweet during the unexpected power outage of Super Bowl XLVII? That real time moment of cross channel brilliance caused Oreo to be the talk of the event that year. They kicked off this type of thinking by pushing the brand far outside the boundaries of the game screen and set the challenge to brands to make a memorable impact during the Super Bowl for years to come.
Emily Mondloch
Market Research and Insights
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

November 17, 2016

Electing to Reset on Media Planning

The Election Year Media Landscape
The country has elected a new president, freeing up airwaves and the like for retailers and advertisers.
With the most recent political season put to rest, it’s time to get back to normal and gear up for the holiday selling season, followed by a new year likely to strengthen our focus on digital media.
Perhaps the unexpected success of a candidate, now president-elect, who used more unorthodox tactics in reaching audiences with more effort in earned media, could prove to upend much of what we assume is most effective in media at large. At the very least, candidates in future elections will have to reevaluate game plans as they look to get their messages out.
During the election season, many retailers and advertisers went dark, particularly the months leading up to the presidential election to stay away from the fray. A reset is eminent, gearing up for a busy holiday season and refocusing strategies on the ever-changing and evolving digital media world.
The holiday months could see prices for traditional media hover around election levels because of this. Many retailers are likely to dump money in November and December for the shopping season before a quiet January as retailers prepare new media plans. There’s also an overflow of retail TV spots that may have been kicked out over a political ad and will also need to run in these months. All those businesses and advertisers have saved money for after the election so cost can go up.
For consumers, many shoppers could hold onto money early in 2017 to save up after an expensive holiday season and see how the economy fares under a new president. In turn, advertising goes down as businesses have much of the same hangover.
Mixing It Up
When we look at media plans, each channel of the media gamut helps piece together the puzzle, which needs a healthy dose of mixed media working seamlessly in order to create the right picture.
Despite the ambiguous buzzword of “digital” sounding off every corner of the media world, more traditional media still has some teeth with the greatest percentage of users and most far-reaching audiences, but there is a point where return doesn’t match dollars. So, it’s important to design a well-rounded, multichannel media plan.
Connected TV has been ramping up, absorbing much of the overflow from the massive market where TV is prohibiting some retailers and advertisers with higher costs in major markets. This past election year, Connected TV proved to be a worthy component of TV mix, complementing cable and broadcast buying expectations. Hulu, being a major hub for content on Connected TV, sold out inventory for certain audiences through the end of the year in some cases, stretching it to an unprecedented capacity.
With costs increasing and more and more audience reach happening outside of TV and radio, rating companies, such as Nielsen/eXelate and comScore/Rentrak, are being pushed to find one good rating for shows and programming by combining all mediums being used by consumers. This would prove a helpful tool for determining media spend and getting clients the best return on investment, especially with digital continuing to offer more specific and detailed delivery reporting. This making a well-rounded media mix more important than ever.
Delivering Returns
As the media landscape diversifies, we have to adopt a “constant learning” approach and apply perpetual testing and measurement in order to launch and target our most effective messages. In order to draw the most meaningful conclusions on cause and effect, it’s often good practice to not only test campaign-specific messaging but set up an “evergreen barometer” gauging interest level year-round. For example, a low level, but ongoing, search and display campaign can measure relative share of voice, upticks and downturns in demand or interest, and allow advertisers to keep a finger on the pulse of what people are responding to. For instance, we expect to see more search activity and interaction with display ads when TV and radio is running in different localities.
Evergreen campaigns like this can also be used to test responses to messaging and inform other media channels. It’s much simpler to launch a display campaign with two different headlines or calls-to-action and allow real data to illustrate which is more engaging. Then that learning can inform message strategy for in-store POP or television and radio buys of larger scope.
Throughout the year when looking at seasonal goals or near-term priorities, you can ramp up and layer on campaigns around real business objectives. For instance, a video campaign can be layered in to improve consideration in advance of holiday shopping season. Or a segmented remarketing campaign can be added to stimulate online conversions in peak buying windows. Everything can layer and be tested looking at channels against channels or creative against creative, allowing the best performing combinations to run, pausing underperformers and replacing with new tests.
This coming year is likely to see a major focus on choosing the right mix and testing new opportunities in order to meet media goals and most importantly real world business objectives. Our job is to make what we buy deliver.
Colin Riddle
Research & Writing
Karen Ashworth, Jeff Smack & Linda Davis
Media Directors

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