The ongoing dispute between Verizon Wireless and AT&T over advertised coverage area -- coupled with a new phone for Verizon-- looks to be a buzz benefit for both companies.
According to YouGovPolimetrix's BrandIndex, which takes the measure of positive vs. negative talk about a certain brand, buzz for both companies has increased in the two weeks between Nov. 2 and Nov. 19. At the beginning of the period, AT&T's buzz was at about 7.7, while Verizon's was around 21.3. By the end of the time period, AT&T's had risen to 14, while Verizon's had risen to 32.3.
"When the providers go after each other head-to-head, there's so much advertising," says Ted Marzilli, CEO of YouGovPolimetrix. "If I just look at the charts, my conclusion is they're both generating positive buzz."
On Nov. 3, AT&T filed a lawsuit against Verizon Wireless, charging that its "There's a Map for That" ads (which asserted that AT&T's 3G wireless coverage was far inferior to Verizon's) misrepresented AT&T's coverage and a restraining order against the ad should be issued. A federal judge denied that request.
In a new commercial, actor Luke Wilson compares the "3G experience" of AT&T and Verizon. On a checklist, Wilson says AT&T's network is faster, lets customers talk and surf the Web at the same time, and has more popular smartphones. The only category where Verizon triumphs is "names that start with V." The ad concludes with the line: "a better 3G experience."
As the two companies continue to feud, the positive buzz continues to increase for both. And while Verizon's buzz is increasing at a faster rate than AT&T's, the reason may have more to do with the introduction of Motorola's Droid smartphone (available on Verizon) than the comparative ads.
"There are a few moving pieces to the puzzle," Marzilli tells Marketing Daily. "Verizon Wireless is getting some help with the Droid [introduction] as well as with their own ads."
The question, he says, is whether the buzz will last as consumers get more involved in shopping for specific devices, rather than coverage plans. "This is very much a snapshot. There's no guarantee it's going to have a lasting impact," he says. "The Droid will have more of a lasting impact going into the holiday season."
Already, the Droid's introduction is helping its maker Motorola, Marzilli says. According to the BrandIndex, the recommend score for Motorola increased among men over 18 from 23.8 to 30.4 between Oct. 27 and Nov. 17.
"The Droid is generating some noise for Motorola, and this really is a bright spot for them," Marzilli says. "Whether it's enough to turn the company around will be interesting to see."