How tech giants stole views from Super Bowl advertisers

The iMedia Top Brands in Video chart highlights the brands that audiences choose to watch most. In the month of February, Super Bowl brands typically block out all other brands from the list. The increased budgets, exposure, anticipation, and post-game jockeying for bragging rights are typically too much for a non-Super Bowl brand to overcome.

But not this year. Out of the top 10 brands on the chart for last month, only seven of them are from the Super Bowl. Sony, Google, and Rovio generated enough viewership to beat out Super Bowl bigwigs like Toyota, Calvin Klein, and Mercedes-Benz. What's going on here?

First off, both Sony and Google made the chart because of huge video campaigns featuring new products. For Sony, it's the PlayStation 4. For Google, it's Google Glass and its "How It Feels [through Glass]" campaign. Sony's PlayStation 4 campaign generated more than 36 million views in February, which is especially impressive considering that the campaign launched on February 20. The Google Glass campaign saw similar results, to the tune of 16.4 million views.

So that begs the question: Is tech buzz better than Super Bowl buzz?

Depending on whom you ask, that could be a religious question. But the data certainly seem to suggest that big product innovations will drive more viewership than a Super Bowl halo effect.

Big tech product launches like Google Glass have one of the core psychological components of big campaigns: the magical, unbelievability factor. We live in a fascinating time when each new gadget seems to bring us closer to the future on TV and in the movies. With Google's new interactive glasses, you can take a video, make calls, ask questions, get directions, and more. The future seems to have landed, and everyone wants a sneak peak -- which drives viewership.

PlayStation 4 plays on a different psychological behavior: bragging rights. Over the years, we've found that the gaming audience is incredibly passionate about innovation and advancement in gaming technology and wants to take ownership of spreading the news. It's been a decade since Sony updated its PlayStation platform. As a result, the fans out there have been waiting for this moment, generating more than 100 copies of the original spot that was responsible for 7.7 million views.

Beyond the psychological considerations of why audiences gravitate to technology and gaming video campaigns, there's another factor at play here for why Sony and Google dominated the chart last month. The Super Bowl features more than 60 video campaigns, all vying for the same video view. There's a ferocious battle among brands to dominate share of choice in the days after the game. Brands have spent millions of dollars planning, creating, and distributing their ads, and they want to stretch the economics of their investment online.

The big challenge online -- unlike with TV where you're guaranteed 30 seconds of airtime for $4 million -- is that brands have to compete for audience attention. Yes, many brands spend hefty sums on choice-based media and generate millions of views, but when there's so much competition, certain campaigns are inevitably left behind.

Google Glass and Sony's PlayStation both launched after the excitement surrounding the Super Bowl had begun dying off. This opened the field for the tech giants and enabled them to run away with views. Had they participated in the Super Bowl, it's unclear how much play the campaigns would have received.

This isn't to say that brands should stay away from the Super Bowl because of the increased competition. Far from it. Many brands benefit from the augmented exposure they receive simply from being in the Super Bowl. GoDaddy.com's model-meets-nerd ad would have generated some internet buzz on its own, but nowhere to the extent that it saw because of its association with the Super Bowl. The same is true of Ram Trucks' farmers spot. While arresting and profound, it needed the Super Bowl to elevate it to the status of a special campaign that brought a nation together. Budweiser's horse and trainer campaign falls into the same bucket.

The challenge for many of the brands that made the chart in February is that they simply don't do that much advertising online. Super Bowl advertisers consist primarily of auto brands, and companies in the automotive category don't typically launch a significant amount of branded content throughout the year. Traditionally, the Super Bowl marks their biggest digital investment of the year and often their only push into branded content, which makes generating consistent viewership difficult. In other words, many of these brands won't make the chart this month.

Samsung has the best of both worlds -- the excitement of technology and the hype around the Super Bowl -- and it dominated the February chart with more than 60 million video views. But in addition to the excitement and hype, Samsung has more than 100 campaigns running online at this moment, all of which contribute to overall viewership. Its Super Bowl campaign, "The Big Pitch," sparked more than 33.2 million views for February. Even if you take that away, Samsung beats all the other Super Bowl advertisers. Only the tech advertisers, Google and Sony, would come out on top.

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.

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