Measuring An Ad's Success Calls For More Than Just Metrics

The most entertaining ad on TV? It has to be Sprint's pitch featuring a wonderfully insouciant doctor "treating" a wounded football player.

The spot may be as close to DVR-proof as it gets, becoming seemingly funnier each time. There's no ad-fatigue. Standing out from the mass of telecom ads that can come across as a big blob of messages about coverage and price is a significant feat.

Quick summary: Sprint is plugging a $69.99 unlimited data plan. The doctor sits next to the player who is in extreme pain after a brutal knee injury. Yet, the doc could care less. He's more fascinated by the chance to send as many emails and watch as much video on his smartphone as he wants.

The agonizing player can't believe he's out for the season, and asks what that means. "I'm dropping you from my fantasy team, that's for sure," the doc says. The player wants a prognosis. "Your knee's totally shattered, did you see how hard that guy hit you?" the doc says, offering to show a clip of the crushing blow. The player can't believe the malpractice.



In a blog post, Stuart Feigley, a partner at a Baton Rouge agency, wrote the creative delivers the "free" plan message clearly, "without coming across as forced" and the "casting is spot on." While "both actors deliver their lines so well I could watch the spot over and over, and not get tired of it. But, more important than either of those points, the commercial sells."

To be fair, the spot airs frequently during football telecasts, so it could reach a potentially more receptive target than a run during "The Biggest Loser."

Yet, showing how subjective opinions about advertising are, a new study from TiVo indicates its popularity is so-so. At a time when an important measure of an ad's effectiveness is how often those watching in time-shifted mode skip it, TiVo evaluates marketers producing the most DVR-proof spots.

Based on second-by-second tracking, its research doesn't give Sprint much love.

In the telecom category, Verizon Wireless seems to have found creative that best retains an audience equipped with a DVR. Its ads had the "lowest fast-forward rate" among time-shifted viewing in prime time for the first 11 months of 2010. That comes even as it's tough to recall a specific spot since the "Can you hear me now" guy left the stage. But Verizon did have a fun spot playing off the theme song from the "Big Red" gum ads years ago.

Verizon's success in minimizing skipping came despite some risk of overkill. TiVo says Verizon and AT&T Wireless aired many more spots than T-Mobile and Sprint.

Among ads running on MTV, where a young audience may be DVR-addicted, Verizon continued to have the lowest skipping rate among its competitors. The TiVo research offered some other insight about consumer fickleness. Even though Best Buy spots don't seem to offer more than exuberant blue-shirted employees plugging products and deals, the company's ads had lower fast-forward rates than the lauded ads for competitor Target - as well as those from Wal-Mart, Kmart and Sears.

And while Apple's creative is touted widely, and its Mac vs. PC campaign will hardly be forgotten, the master marketer may have missed the mark with its latest iPad spots.

TiVo says ads for the Amazon Kindle brought lower fast-forwarding levels. For example on ABC, both marketers ran 100+ spots, but the Kindle ads were skipped 12% less.

The audience is harder and harder to read.

1 comment about "Measuring An Ad's Success Calls For More Than Just Metrics".
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  1. Joe Kelly from Triad Consulting Corporation, January 5, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.

    As a football addict I have seen those Sprint spots a million times (at least it seems that way).It's not the most sympathetic spot in the world , depending on who you empathize with, the doc or the player. I think anyone who has been on the wrong end of that message may not see it as humorously.It is well done. But there is a problem with sports based messages. A very large segment of the population will have no idea what they are talking about.It could be argued that where they are being shown solves that problem, but they do want that big audience to get the message,right?

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