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Could 2012 Super Bowl Spots Double Their Impact as iAds?


Nielsen data suggests that iAds on Apple's iPhone and iPad may be twice as effective at conveying their message to consumers than TV ads for the same product. Is the advertising biz about to change?

Nielsen found that people who viewed a Campbell's soup spot in the form of Apple's iAd on an iPad or iPhone were more than twice as likely to recall the ad when asked later than those who viewed the same sort of TV ad. In fact iAd viewers remembered Campbell's as a brand five times more often than TV ad viewers, and they also remembered the actual message of the advert three times as often. In other words, Apple's iAds appear to be twice as effective as a TV spot.

Now the caveats. This is for a single product. It was hardly a, pardon the pun, apples-to-apples comparison, since the TV ad was passive and the iAd featured all kinds of interactivity such as recipes. The survey seems to ignore the volume of viewers each type of ad would typically have, too (a factor highly dependent upon when the ad spot was bought—like, say, the Super Bowl). Oh, and the investigation was sponsored by Apple—who quite definitely has an interest in iAds coming out of the data smelling like roses.

It's not Nielsen's cleanest work.

But even with all that bias, there's a lesson to take away from the study in an industry where eking a tiny boost in effectiveness on an ad campaign can be seen as a success.

Is it a question of the novelty of seeing an ages-old brand like Campbell's embracing the cutting-edge of interactive digital advertising? Possibly. It could also be that iAds are pretty rare, while TV ads are so ubiquitous that we've all trained ourselves to pretty much ignore them, unless they're startling in some way. The different demographics of a typical TV audience and iOS owner (since the two groups were surveyed separately by Nielsen) could also play into the data.

Whichever way you look at it, though, the Campbell's' data strongly suggests that if a brand really wants to connect with consumers, it could do worse than directing money away from endless and expensive TV ad campaigns, and funding some clever iAds on the iPad and iPhone—especially considering that early data suggests the Verizon iPhone edition is selling at record speeds, and will soon enable millions of new consumers to access iAd content. Which then leads us to wonder: Will some of next year's Super Bowl adverts slip off the TV and onto the tiny Apple-crafted screens in your bags and pockets? Despite the prestige of the traditional mid-game ad segments, advertising brands could get much more bang for their buck.

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