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The United Brands of America

Brands by State

A map of America with each state represented by its most famous brand. I don’t know who counted the votes here, and I’m surprised by a few picks: Caterpillar over McDonalds in Illinois, Wendy’s over Tide in Ohio, and Verizon in the #1 spot for New York. Meanwhile I’m wondering how the folks at Tropicana are feeling about Florida.

We Dislike Mobile Ads, But They Are 4 Times More Effective Than Online Ads

The latest study from Millward Brown, AdReaction 2012, finds that only 9% of American smartphone users have a favorable or very favorable disposition toward mobile ads. (More at Mediapost.) That’s about how much they like emails that they didn’t opt to receive (ie, spam), and less than half as much as they like online display ads. It’s a sad state of affairs when you can win a popularity contest against banner ads, eh?

Meanwhile mobile ads are working exceptionally well.

Prior research by Dynamic Logic’s AdIndex brand metrics system has shown that mobile ads are approximately four times more effective than online ads at increasing brand awareness, message association and purchase intent.

At first blush it sounds like two points of data that contradict one another. But that’s not really the case. It’s evidence of two factors that have played out across the history of advertising. One, when people actually look at ads, they tend to work. Mobile ads are more invasive and harder to ignore than online banners — there’s no AdBlocker Plus or Tivo for smartphones yet, and the narrowness of mobile screens means ads aren’t placed in that easy-to-ignore right rail — so they work better. Two, when asked directly consumers will always tell you they hate ads. Almost two-thirds of us dislike or strongly dislike ads, and yet we continue to pay a premium price to buy the stuff we see advertised. In other words, if we fail to shield our eyes from an ad — like it or not — it’s going to make an impression.

Google’s Top Search Advertisers

The biggest chunk of Google’s revenue, search advertising, continues to be dominated by the titans of direct response: Wireless carriers, ecommerce sites, travel and financial services. IAC (,, Citysearch, etc) was the #1 search buyer in the first 9 months of 2011. Microsoft, General Motors, Avis and Enterprise also make the top 20.

Kantar Media data as reported on Ad Age. Above chart from Business Insider.

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis

Google's Biggest Advertisers in June 2010 (And What They Tell Us About Online Media)

Top 10 Google Advertisers June 2010

Hats off to Michael Learmonth at Ad Age for getting his hands on this sensitive document!

“While the search-spending document obtained by Advertising Age is not a complete list of advertisers on Google, the accuracy of its data was verified by multiple sources with direct knowledge of spending levels. It’s a revealing cross-section of Google’s business that gives some clarity to one of the most opaque areas of ad spending, and the lifeblood of many American businesses. “

Two noteworthy items in this story.

One, Google’s revenues are well distributed: Its top 10 advertisers (in June, anyway) represent only 5% of its total revenue. While 47 advertisers spent more than $1 million in the month, another 71 spent between $500,000 and $1 million, and other 357 spent between $100,000 and $500,000.

Two, Google’s revenues — which represents around half of all online ad spending — continue to skew heavily toward direct-response advertising versus brand advertising. Google’s top 10 includes University of Phoenix parent Apollo Group, Expedia, Amazon, eBay, and Living Social. Compare that to the list of top 10 US advertising spenders across all media:

Top 10 Advertisers Across All Media

Outside of AT&T, they are entirely different lists. At this point in the history of the Internet, it’s hard to argue that the big brands haven’t yet gotten hip to the crazy new technology. The only reasonable explanation is this: The giants of ad-supported online media — portals, publishers and social media platforms — are not offering solutions that do the stuff of brand marketing. Nobody beats search and behavioral targeting when it comes to serving up a coupon when we’re hunting for a product. But clearly the big spenders on the brand side aren’t convinced online ads can turn us on to a new shampoo or shaver, or convince us to walk into a dealership when our old car is still running fine.

Verizon Hits on a Viral Success with $99 Music Videos

Sure, anyone can make videos and put them up on YouTube. There’s a reason to partner with expert digital video programmers like Next New Networks (an FM partner), though: You significantly improve your odds of breaking through the clutter and riding the wave of a word-of-mouth phenomenon.

In February, Verizon teamed up with NNN to sponsor $99 Music Videos (more CJ7 release

Final Destination movie ), a project where indie bands get creative with $99 and a video camera to produce made-for-YouTube music videos. One of them, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard’s To Be Objectified video, has attracted more than 100,000 viewers (and 200 comments) in its first week. Not a bad start.

Requiem for a Dream divx

(Credits: Verizon and the Verizon Wireline team at Moxie Interactive; the crew at Next New Networks; and John Schneider and Sarah Ruxin at FM. And that’s not counting Jeffrey Lewis and his posse.)

Greedy trailer

Verizon, Next New Networks & FM Launch $99 Music Videos

Billboard coverage here Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom full .

Wired interview with Next New’s Fred Siebert here.

And from CNET:

“$99 Music Videos Network, a joint venture of Next New Networks and Verizon, launched Thursday in the hope that it can transform the way music videos are distributed. According to the company, each Thursday it will debut one music video and a ‘making of’ clip and make them available through YouTube and iTunes. Eventually, the company hopes to partner new artists and independent filmmakers to create videos on just $99 (thus the name). The first music video available on the site is ‘The Sun Song’ from La Strada.”

Verizon Sparks Positive Conversation With Ads on Fred Wilson's Site

Fred Wilson on Verizon2

FM worked with Verizon Wireless (and its agency, Moxie Interactive) to place Verizon ads promoting the BlackBerry Storm on Fred Wilson’s site, A VC, even though Fred had recently criticized the product on the site:

“In fact, that post which is critical of the Storm is still on the front page of this blog where the ad is running. And this blog has been no friend to wireless carriers and their abusive business models like demanding exclusives from device manufacturers.

“Conversational media and conversational marketing is coming of age. Marketers are understanding that you have to be part of the conversation even if it isn’t flattering about you and your products and services. And participants in conversational media are starting to recognize that marketers and their brands have a seat at the table and a role in the conversation. In this case, they are helping to fund it (sort of).

“Kudos to Verizon for understanding that you can’t control the content your campaign runs next to.”

An interesting conversation broke out among A VC readers, including BlackBerry fans that came to the brand’s defense and others who applauded Verizon for supporting the discussion.

“It could be very effective for Verizon. This blog hits a bullseye on the product’s target market. Plenty of people will disagree w/ Fred’s view on the Storm (I do, fairly strongly!) And there’s a LOT of people who feel married to Verizon or can’t/won’t use AT&T or T-Mo (and thus iPhone, G1 etc) and will now choose the Storm despite reservations…. I am convinced that there is TONS of potential here. People are sick and tired of all these years of ads making grandiose, inherently biased claims for their products. ‘Marketing’ as it’s done in the US has become equated w/ mistrust. I’d bet that a company’s active endorsement of a balanced discussion, pro and con, about a product will cause the public to listen rather than tune out.”


“I’d be impressed if people from Verizon made this decision based on the content & context of specific posts on your blog as opposed to simply picking your site from some broad technology category.”

And this, from my FM colleague John Schneider:

“Yes, this was a conscious, and human, decision that was made. With fewer than 200 properties, FM always handpicks the best fitting sites — there are no fancy algorithms. In Fred’s case, he has an engaged and influential audience that has strong opinions on new technologies and product offerings. Ultimately, it’s Fred’s audience we are trying to reach. They clearly respect his opinions, but form their own as shown here in this comment thread.”


“Well, I think it’s brilliant that you did because of the tension created by Fred’s recent post about the BlackBerry Storm. There’s hope for advertising.”

Hope for advertising?! I’m welling up over here!

Congrats to the teams at Verizon Wireless and Moxie Interactive. And thanks, John Schneider, for putting this program together, and Fred, for MC’ing the conversation.