The Most Digitally Engaging Commercials of the Fall TV Season

The Anatomy of Digitally Dynamic TV Ads

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For all the ad innovation and shifting consumer behaviors of the last decade, the advertising dollars still reside primarily in TV. Let's forgo the debate about why and jump right into another truth: TV advertisers aren't ignoring the digital lives of their target audiences, but increasingly focusing on how those expensive TV ads can drive digital behaviors. After all, if an ad can generate a search, a social action or online video view, the audience isn't just engaging with the brand -- he or she could even be helping in promotions. That bounce is important bang for the buck.

Consumers interact with TV ads on the digital screen in three primary ways: search, online video views and social shares/comments. Over the course of 2013, for instance, the number of TV campaigns containing a hashtag has grown from 100 per month to over 400. In fact, when you count up the views to videos, search terms specific to TV ads and the variety of social actions from sharing, tweeting, voting, commenting and the like, we are talking about more than 200 million explicit digital interactions with TV ads per month (and rapidly growing).

So, what makes a digital hit? Let's review 5 campaigns that drove some of the highest levels of digital interactions during the fall TV season. The data shows online activity (combining search, social and video view behaviors) against the estimated spend for each day and illustrates how not all digital buzz is created equal.

Geico: Camel on a Hump Day
Primary Driver: Humor, Talking Animals
Agency: The Martin Agency
Production Company: Hungry Man

Funny and instantly relatable, "Hump Day" quickly became the perfect "joke" video to pass around the office every Wednesday. The universal nature of the spot also means that viewers can enjoy it every Wednesday no matter what time of year it is, as evidenced by its sustained social activity that continues to be robust months after release.


Kmart: Shoe Your Joe
Primary Driver: Controversy
Agency: Draftfcb Chicago
Production Company: Wondros

A little bit of controversy goes a long way for Kmart and Joe Boxer. The "ballsy" nature of the spot definitely struck a chord with viewers who took to social media in droves to share the ad, generating massive YouTube plays and social activity over a very short time span.


PlayStation: Perfect Day
Primary Driver: Action
Agency: BBH New York
Production Company: MJZ

To promote Sony's upcoming Playstation 4 game console, BBH New York turned things around and made gamers the stars. The ad features ordinary gamers involved in the kind of epic action set pieces you expect to find in a PS4 game. And given the video's high viewership numbers on YouTube, it's safe to say gamers appreciate ads that are all about them.


Samsung: Evolution
Primary Driver: Iconic
Agency: 72andSunny
Production Company: Furlined

To introduce consumers to its new line of Galaxy Gear, Samsung went old school. Its "Evolution" campaign featured many of pop culture's most iconic communications devices, from the "Star Trek" tricorder to the Power Rangers' digital watches. By tickling consumers' sense of nostalgia, Samsung hopes to align its new line with these other iconic products. So far the plan seems to be working, with high YouTube views and search activity implying that consumers are willing to give Samsung a chance.


Kia: 2014 Soul
Primary Driver: Pop Culture, Humor
Agency: David & Goliath
Production Company: Radical Media

Pop culture and humor are all over Kia's new ad for the Soul. The Kia Hamsters are back and, just like the redesigned Soul, are shedding the fat and getting fit. To score the hilarious workout routines Kia licensed Lady Gaga's (at the time) brand-new song "Applause," creating a delightful pop culture crossover. Gaga fans loved the ad, the first place many probably heard the new track, and were quick to share it with others. You can see when Kia started spending on versions of these ads below -- and also when it released a 90-second spot to YouTube in late October, how much activity it drove.


The figures here comprise a variety of actions directly related to TV ads as they happen across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Bing, Yahoo and the website. The iSpot platform provides digital and TV ad metrics across a continually growing database of more than 40,000 campaigns running on over 80 TV networks and representing more than 5,000 brands.

Sean Muller is CEO and founder of iSpot, which tracks, catalogs and measures national TV advertising in real-time, and was previously chief technology officer at Demand Media.
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