TV May Get You Eyeballs, But True Engagement is Found Online

This past weekend, Apple received a 2014 Creative Arts Emmy Award for the most “Outstanding Commercial.” The brand’s winning spot, “Misunderstood,” follows a teenage boy as he seemingly sulks through a family gathering, nose buried in his phone. In the end, you discover he was actually creating a movie on his iPhone for his entire family to enjoy. Other nominees include Budweiser, GE and Nike.

As I read over the list of “Outstanding Commercial” nominees, I noticed that each one of these spots did incredibly well online, earning millions of YouTube views and social shares. Check it out:

Winner: Apple, “Misunderstood”

From agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab, this spot gained viral traction within four days of it being uploaded. Though the original video has been removed from Apple’s YouTube account, sources noted that the video earned more than 4.2 million views within its first four days. In the month of December, ReelSEO cited Unruly’s Viral Video Chart—Apple’s ad racked up 366,155 social shares within one month.

Here is a copy of the ad, uploaded by a YouTuber.

Nominee: Budweiser, “Hero’s Welcome”

Anomaly produced this spot for Budweiser that aired during the 2014 Super Bowl. Online, the video earned more than 9.2 million YouTube views and 302,000 social shares.

Nominee: Budweiser, “Puppy Love”

Now, I know you’ve seen this one. Revered as one of the best commercials of Super Bowl XLVII, “Puppy Love,” has generated 51.5 million YouTube views and 372,000 social shares to date. This spot is also from agency Anomaly.

Nominee: GE, “Childlike Imagination”

From BBDO, this spot captures a child’s imagination as she describes what her mom does as an employee of GE. With beautiful visuals and a simple concept, GE attracted 1.8 million YouTube views and 4,535 social shares.

Nominee: Nike, “Possibilities”

Wieden+Kennedy crushed it with this spot celebrating Nike’s 25th birthday. Featuring an all-star cast with LeBron James (the NBA’s 2012 and 2013 Most Valuable Player), Serena Williams (the world’s first ranked female tennis player), Gerard Pique of the FC Barcelona soccer team and boxing sensation Andre Ward, this ad went viral incredibly fast.

Within its first two weeks, it racked up more than 10 million YouTube views and 200,000 social shares. Unfortunately, Nike removed the video from its channel. Here’s a copy:

A 2013 study from AOL’s Be On found that 58% of respondents from global brands, media and creative agencies believe that they can achieve greater engagement and scale with online video versus TV. With no time restraints or other hindrances to storytelling, online video has become one of, if not the most, engaging forms of branded advertising.

Users can easily consume and share video content across their social networks, multiplying a brand’s overall reach and earned media (which is incredibly important). When it comes to online video, earned media is any viewership that comes as a result of social behaviors (word-of-mouth advertising), driven by paid and/or owned media.

So, why is earned media so valuable to brands?

  • 61% of people are more likely to watch company videos that friends have shared. (Source)
  • Word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. (Source)
  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. (Source)

It’s much more convenient for consumers to share online videos than it is for them to remember to tell their friends about a TV ad they happened to see. In a world that’s increasingly mobile and interactive, television is stationary and detached. Online video allows brands to talk back while sparking the most important conversations that consumers have—the ones with their friends.

Ultimately, these ads may be recognized as creative TV commercials, but the true vehicle behind their success is the engagement driven by online video.

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