Behind the ‘Apple ads flop’ story

“Last week, a story spread through the Applesphere that Apple’s new brand commercial, Our Signature, is a flop,” Ken Segall writes for Observatory. “This, according to Ace Metrix, which is in the business of researching such things for its clients.”

“On the heels of this story came another, in which it was revealed that Ace Metrix has on its client roster a company called … Samsung,” Segall writes. “Hold on there, fellas. I like conspiracy theories as much as the next guy, and Samsung’s evil tentacles may indeed stretch into dark places we can’t see, but … c’mon. There’s not much of a story here.”

Segall writes, “Companies like Samsung go heavy on research… Further, it is no surprise at all that Samsung’s recent ads would score more points than Apple’s in this type of research. Apple’s Signature ad is quiet and thoughtful, waxing philosophically about the company’s beliefs. Samsung’s ads tend to employ humor, tout never-seen-before smartphone features and appear on TV’s highest-profile shows.”

“I’m not judging the worth of one ad over another, because there are many things to consider beyond like/don’t-like types of data,” Segall writes. “I’m saying I’d be extremely surprised if a quiet ad beat out the more in-your-face humorous ads.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Businessweek says Apple’s TV Ads ‘flop’ based on survey from Ace Metrix – which counts Samsung as a client – June 28, 2013
Apple-bashing in the post-Steve Jobs era – June 28, 2013


      1. +1

        And somehow this story smells of a PR tamp down.
        So, now I am doubting the authenticity and credibility of one Ken Segall.
        Recently receive any compensation from any undisclosed (large Korean corporations or subsidiaries perhaps) benefactors Ken?

        1. I’ll double-check my checking account, but I’m pretty sure I’m clean.

          By no means am I trying to bolster Samsung’s credibility. Just saying that it’s not surprising that Samsung’s ads would outscore Apple’s in the type of testing described.

          Two different kinds of ads created for two different purposes.

          This is why, in general, testing sucks. (And why Apple has historically had zero interest in it.)

          1. What do you think of the Google “made in USA” ad? Pure coincidence, or a new level of creepiness? Which fonts were used in these duelling ads? Inquiring minds want to know.

          2. First of all, from the article, what “learnings’ are you referring to on Samsung’s part, apart from blatant IP theft?

            These guys are not very smart, so you appear to be giving them way more credibility than they deserve, and not willing to question their, or Ace Metrix’s motives at all.

            As many mentioned, their ads targeting the very people they would desire as users, were not effective whatsoever in capturing any of that demographic.

            More importantly, as someone mentioned on your site, Samsung has done some pretty questionable things regarding reviews in the past, paying iPhone using celebrities to pimp their product and so on for instance. So it wouldn’t be that surprising that they would somehow be in on shouting out the results this weeny survey.

            All I am saying, is that I don’t think you can unequivocally state that there is necessarily no story here….

            1. I understand your point of view, and I share your feelings about Samsung. That anyone would see them as an “innovator” is pretty shocking to me.

              But you are taking my article the wrong way. I’m not talking about how the research is being manipulated — I’m talking about the research itself. There are countless companies using countless research teams to rationalize or validate what they do. Apple generally refuses to get involved with this type of stuff, but other companies are addicted to it. Their marketing groups use it to “prove” their worth or to uncover brilliant customer insights. And since research can yield different results based on who you talk to and what kinds of questions you ask, you have to take these types of studies with a huge grain of salt — especially from a company like Ace Metrix, of whom we know very little.

              You ask why I am not willing to question Samsung’s motives. It depends on what moment of time you’re talking about. When the research was first commissioned, they wouldn’t know what the results would be. So I will assume that pulling in such research is part of what Samsung does all the time, just like most big global companies. Once they saw the results, it’s a different story. I’m sure there were those who saw some value in making it public. It could be Samsung, who saw the opportunity to score points. Or it could be Ace Metrix, who saw the opportunity to get a lot of free publicity and attract new clients. Or a combination thereof.

              I wrote this article to say that the data itself is not really surprising, given the nature of the ads and the way these companies do their surveys. This happens every day. The only suspicious part is how the results have been disseminated. (I should also add that the media bears responsibility for their willingness to turn this type of data into a news story.)

  1. The made in California ads suck. A quick check online and people think the same thing as me. Made in China. That’s all that ad makes me think of when it focuses on designed in California.

    Apple, whatever drives you that’s great. But most of us don’t care. The only thing we care about is the product and if it works.

    Get back to basics Apple. Shut up and innovate and cut these cheesey ads out.

    1. Since you don’t seem to “get it”, and you don’t appreciate or understand thoughtful statements about corporate philosophy why don’t you just go buy a Samsung piece of shit and quit bothering people who made it past the 12th grade? I hear they have a “boombox” 14″ model coming out pretty soon that sits in a harness on your shoulder, weighs 18 pounds, and comes in zebra, tiger, and leopard skin finishes. It should be a big hit with the Walmart crowd.

      1. What am I supposed to get? What you don’t get is that Apple is a profit seeking company who doesn’t care about you or anyone else. So why should we give a shit about them?

        They want your money fanboy, and it’s easy when suckers like you are running around.

        1. Unlike the company (Samsung) who is paying trolls like you to spout, Apple deeply cares about customer satisfaction data so much they use jargon on stage to refer to it:

          Customer sat

          This is a data point that is completely irrelevant to ad companies like Google and copycat companies like Samesung.

          So thanks for blowing wind out of your ass, please visit the bathroom first next time.

          1. Except that “customer sat” IS important to Google. It’s just that their customers are advertisers. We are the product they so highly value—our location and itinerary, our transport and destination, our activities and their duration, our favourite things, the people we know and what we think of them, our web browsing behaviour, what we look like when we’re drunk. I may have left out some stuff.

            None of that invalidates your main point, which was perfectly expressed.

            1. You are also making a huge and unwarranted assumption that advertisers are Googles only customers. Creepy companies that collect data on you are not only valuable to advertised but to tyrannical governments. The problem is if you discover Google is selling you out to even creepier customers than advertisers is its too late and you can never undo the collection of info about you.

            2. I doubt that the government is paying for whatever data they get from Google, and I doubt that Google’s business plan includes provisions for that. So I don’t think of government as a paying customer, or one whose patronage Google seeks and for which “customer sat” is measured. That being said, the spy angle is extremely worrisome, I agree, and forces us all to rethink our privacy “choices” when using Google services…it’s one thing to sign off on Google sharing info with ad “partners”, it’s another when our very freedom is compromised.

        2. They make a profit, so they will survive. They don’t make a profit, won’t exist. Maybe we should start teaching economics in the third grade so that people might eventually get it.
          They DO want my money, and they give me more than fair value when I buy their product. That’s called a “meeting of the the minds” and that is the only way the world can work.
          Get back to me when you grow up.

  2. Samsung’s campaign to discredit Apple is well-documented. Search Google for “Samsung dirty tricks” and you’ll find plenty of links. Hard to give the Ace Metrix findings any credibility in light of this and the fact they work for Samsung.

  3. Personally I like the ad and I think now was a good time to air it. Apple showed off some new stuff but wasn’t launching anything, and when your main rivals keep pumping out commodity junk, reminding consumers of the thought and care that goes into your products is a good thing. Even if the ad rates lower than samsungs flashy joke fest, that reminder of apples commitment to quality will stick in consumers heads when it comes to spending money this holiday season.

  4. Apple user since 1988. Hardly a Samsung shill, although I am looking at a Samsung monitor right now, when I bought it honestly I cant say I picked the Samsun over any other brand, just went price, I suppose.

    Having said that, I keep telling myself that as an Apply loyalist I should pay attention when the ad comes up on tv. Problem is that it doesn’t make enough of an impression on me to capture my attention until the end, if it even registers at all.

    So I guess you could say I am not qualified to comment on the ad, so I won’t. Have a nice day

  5. The ad is not a flop. I buy Samsung and Lg monitors all the time. Samsung is just trying to bust the “halo” effect because it is the only they can pick off certain Apple products from the top of consumer popularity. The so called “flop” is an affirmation that what makes Apple products great is the “halo” effect and that Apple is an American company. Once again we need to get that crazy guy in the north to shoot some big missiles at Seoul.

  6. Here how Ace Metrix does it.
    As a researcher, this hardly qualifies as quantifiable

    Ace Metrix scores every ad in front of 500+ consumers – alongside other advertising. Each ad gets its own unique audience. Ace Metrix has conducted more than 12 million surveys since 2010. It is our belief that a complete test of advertising creative must take into consideration both the voluntary nature of advertising consumption and the business goal of the advertiser. As a result, we have developed metrics with both of those objectives in mind.

    The Ace Score®

    First, we measure the success in achieving the business objective through our Persuasion metric. Persuasion is composed of six factors, each one identified for its ability to influence behavior:

    Second, we address the nature of advertising consumption, through our Watchability metric which is designed to measure the ad’s ability to attract a viewer’s interest in watching the ad voluntarily.

    Persuasion and Watchability interact with each other, which results in the overall effectiveness of an ad, known as its Ace Score.

    Because every ad is scored in the exact same way, an Ace Score is comparable within and across industries.

    The Emotional Sentiment Index

    Advertising metrics are only useful if they measure the specific objectives of the campaign. The Emotional Sentiment Index represents an entirely different dimension of measuring ad effectiveness – one that reflects the emotional impact of the ad.

    The Emotional Sentiment Index is represented on a scale of 1 to 100.

    Ace Metrix applies a natural language processing algorithm to the hundreds of verbatim responses collected for each ad, deriving a score which indicates positive, negative or neutral emotional impact.

    Normative data is also represented for each ad. Norms are based on a rolling 12 months and are calculated for the Brand, for the Category, and Overall – that is, the average Emotional Sentiment score for all ads in the database for the current 12 month-period.

    The placement of the score on the index is based in part by the number of positive words and negative words and is relative to the total number of verbatims for the particular ad. Since verbatims are entirely voluntary, the number of verbatims entered also factors into the emotional impact of the ad.

    The Emotional Sentiment score does not characterize an ad as successful or unsuccessful, ‘good or bad’. Rather, the score merely indicates where the ad falls in negative or positive emotional impact. An ad that is attempting to tug at the heartstrings for example may do so by generating a positive or negative reaction. The advertiser must be the judge of success or failure based on the ad’s intent.

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