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The marketing opportunity that U.S. retailers are missing

The marketing opportunity that U.S. retailers are missing Mallory Russell

While retailers usually dominate the holiday season, it is online services and electronics brands that dominated December on the iMedia Brands in Video chart. Five of the top 10 brands in December were online services and electronics makers, while Nike -- which didn't release any holiday themed content -- was the only retailer.



Online service providers YouTube and its parent company, Google, came in at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, thanks to the success of their year-in-review campaigns.


Google's "Year in Search 2014" looks at the biggest events in entertainment, sports, politics, and world events in 2014. While the events depicted, in some cases, are tragic, the message is one of optimism. It generated a total of 16.5 million views in December and 32.2 million views to date.



YouTube's "Turn Down for 2014," which was released in early December, generated an astonishing 82.5 million views during the month and more than 92 million views to date. The campaign brings together the platform's most popular celebrities (along with other folks like Stephen Colbert) to pay homage to the memes and trending videos of 2014.


Both of these campaigns show the power of campaigns that look backward -- even if it's only to the events that happened a year ago or two weeks ago. These stories play on viewers' love of nostalgia, one of the most powerful and unifying emotions available to marketers.


Rivals Samsung and Apple took the No. 2 and No. 4 spots on the December chart, bolstered by campaigns that played on traditional holiday themes of family that make viewers smile and tug at the heartstrings.


Samsung's top performing campaign of the month was "Home for the Holidays." In this second installment of Samsung ads featuring celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd, the two prepare their house for the holiday season. Bell decorates a gingerbread house while Shepard gets decorations out of the attic. Shepard stencils snowflakes onto the windows while a pregnant Bell munches on popcorn meant for a garland. The video ends with them turning on the holiday lights, then going inside to watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." The campaign generated 28.4 million views in December.


Apple's most viewed campaign in December was "The Song," a 90-second short film that tells the story of a young woman who finds an old vinyl recording of "Love is Here to Stay" that her grandmother made for her grandfather. Using Apple products, the woman adds her voice and guitar to the recording. She gives the duet to her grandmother for Christmas. Cue tears. The spot garnered 24.1 million views during the month, most of which came from the brand's placement of the video on Facebook.


It seems odd that retail doesn't have more of a presence in December, when the holiday season is peak sales time for the industry. So why aren't there more retail brands in this month's top 10?


Year-to-year, the top holiday retail campaigns come from the U.K. This year, John Lewis and Sainsbury's had two of the most memorable campaigns with "Monty the Penguin" and "Christmas 2014." Because the U.K. doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving like the U.S., its holiday season starts in early November. It is the biggest advertising event of their year, and thus, holiday campaigns are almost all released in the first part of the month, and viewership wanes in December.


For U.S. retailers, holiday campaigns tend to get released closer to Thanksgiving. But, unlike their U.K. counterparts, U.S. retailers are missing from our December list because of timing.


U.K. retailers share something with these electronics and online service providers that dominated the chart this month. They all create content for the holidays that draws on holiday traditions and themes -- especially family -- and play into those emotions that the holiday season brings out in us. U.S. retailers tend to focus on humor or specific products and promotions in their holiday campaigns, neither of which has quite the shareability and newsworthiness of these more emotional, story-driven campaigns.


It speaks to the savviness of Google, YouTube, Apple, and Samsung -- all of which are regulars on the Brands in Video chart -- that they have stolen focus during the holidays, a time that traditionally belongs to other industries such as retail and travel.


Mallory Russell is content editor 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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Mallory Russell is the Director of Content for Visible Measures. Prior to joining Visible Measures, Mallory wrote for Advertising Age and Business Insider. She also spent a few years in the San Francisco ad business at DraftFCB and Goodby,...

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