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Why Samsung is crushing Apple in online video

Why Samsung is crushing Apple in online video Matt Fiorentino

In the world of video advertising, September was supposed to belong to Apple. The company launched its highly anticipated iPhone 5, along with a barrage of video advertising to support it. In the past, the buzz around one of its major product announcements and the video advertising to support it was enough to elevate Apple's video views above its competitors. But Apple doesn't take the top spot on the Top Brands in Video Chart for last month. That honor goes to Samsung.

Why Samsung is crushing Apple in online video

Powered by data from Visible Measures, this monthly chart looks at the most-watched brands in online video, across all of their campaigns. (Check out past charts for August, July, and June.)

Samsung dominates the chart this month with more than 51.4 million views, nearly three times Apple's 17.6 million views. You could assume that Samsung generates more views because it's advertising multiple products at once, whereas Apple focuses on one major advertising campaign at a time. But you'd be wrong. Samsung's biggest campaign of the month was for its Galaxy S III, and it generated just under 30 million views in September -- more than all of Apple's efforts combined.

Samsung's dominance over Apple in online video isn't new. Looking at its performance in 2011, from January to the end of September, Samsung launched 14 campaigns in online video (including multiple creatives). In all, Samsung generated more than 36 million views through September 2011. In that same time period, Apple launched eight campaigns and drove 34.4 million views. So while Samsung's 36 million views clearly tops Apple's 34.4 million, it's by no means a landslide.

Fast forward to this year, however, and we find a dramatic shift. From January through the end of September 2012, Samsung has launched 20 campaigns and has produced more than 181 million views. This is an increase of more than 400 percent compared to the same time period just last year. Apple's numbers are comparatively modest. It's published 10 campaigns through September this year and has seen 63.5 million views, an increase of more than 80 percent.

So, to quickly recap, through the end of September, Samsung has produced 181 million views in 2012. Apple has produced 63.5 million views.

The question is: How is Samsung dominating Apple?

Apple has legions of fans and followers across the world and is the most valuable company on the planet. It's the leader in the market and while at times it might not stack up on a feature-by-feature basis with some of its competitors, it can make up for it with its brand.

But being the leader comes with a price. As the leader, you no longer fight for the top spot, so you lose a target to fight against. Think about Apple's greatest advertisements – "1984," "Think Different," "Mac vs. PC." They resonated with audiences because they tapped into both their hopes for something better and their frustration with the current state of affairs. But now that Apple is at the top, it's no longer about thinking differently anymore -- because most people are already thinking differently.

This is manifested in Apple's current advertising strategy. With each new major product launch, Apple produces a featurette with interviews from top execs about their latest thinking, along with a handful of 30-second feature-focused spots. The ads run on television and also get paid views in online video to drive viewership. This strategy is fine from a broadcast and awareness perspective, but it does little to truly tap into the opportunity offered by online video.

Audiences will choose to watch an Apple ad because it's Apple, or because they're curious to see what Apple's latest product is. But they don't watch Apple ads for their creative content.

To get audiences involved and inspire them to choose to watch and share your video content, advertisements need to do more than focus on features. Samsung understands this and has been applying this thinking for years.

In fact, Samsung's second most-watched campaign of all time was launched in early 2009. Called "Extreme Sheep LED Art," the campaign features sheep with lights strung around them running around a hillside in Wales and making different designs in the night. The campaign advertised Samsung's LED televisions. It's generated more than 21.8 million views.

Can you imagine an Apple ad with sheep in it?

While Samsung's sheep campaign isn't driving many views these days, its storytelling spirit is evident in its latest smash hit. "Galaxy S III," which includes creatives for "The Next Big Thing is Already Here," has nearly 40 million views to date, and, as mentioned above, close to 30 million views in September alone.

"The Next Big Thing is Already Here" is Samsung's version of "Mac vs. PC." It's fun, light, and highlights features organically in the story of the ad. It gives Apple's loyal fan base a face, just like John Hodgman did for the PC. And it goes directly after the leader.

Beyond its creative content, "The Next Big Thing is Already Here" was successful because of its launch strategy. Samsung had the foresight to plan to respond immediately to the iPhone 5 launch, fighting for online audiences. Remember, online audiences are different than TV audiences -- they actively choose to watch both content and ads. The result is that ads are in constant competition with each other to be chosen. Samsung took advantage of this fact and made sure that audiences had the choice between watching ads for iPhone 5 and ads for Galaxy S III.

The ability to respond in near real-time to events is a huge advantage for online video campaigns. We saw it with the "Old Spice Guy Responses" campaign, which generated more than 86 million views. Responding directly to real events or audiences makes online video campaigns much more conversational, which helps engage audiences and adds a sense of urgency to getting involved.

The other big point to make here is that Apple isn't doing badly in online video. Far from it -- it was the fifth most-watched brand in video in September. But if you look at the top five brands on the chart -- Samsung, Intel, Toshiba, Google, and Apple -- you see that Apple is trailing two of its largest competitors in one of the hottest advertising media of the moment. And that's not good. The difference between Apple and the other companies in the top five is that everyone else is here because of their content. Apple is here because of its brand.

But that isn't enough anymore. In a relentless video advertising battle in which audiences are choosing to watch your competitors' ads nearly three times for every one of yours, simply publishing predictable featurettes and feature-focused ads won't close the gap. That requires a new line of thinking. For Apple to catch up in video advertising, it needs to start thinking differently. Or, perhaps more to the point, Apple needs to start thinking more like Samsung.

Matt Fiorentino is director of marketing at Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

Learn more here.

Matt Fiorentino is the Director of Marketing for Visible Measures. Prior to joining Visible Measures, Matt was a freelance journalist for publications like the Associated Press, The Dayton Daily News, and The American Magazine. Matt has a...

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