Advertising Audience Insights

Take(away) 2: Additional Insights from March AdNess 2017

With March AdNess 2017 now well in the rear view mirror, we wanted to look at some of the other big takeways from the tournament. Specifically, we wanted to focus on 2 areas: how varied the results were by region; and the phenomenon of “Unlucky Losers”: essentially, the spots that had the bad luck to be paired with the top contenders, but were themselves great spots.

Regional Results:

The Takeaway: be mindful of your target audience’s geography.

Regional Summary

Unsurprisingly, since it was the overall winner, Reese’s “Spring Song” ad took the top spot overall in three out of four regions in the U.S. The only region that didn’t give it the top spot was the West, where it still placed second, two points behind Nabisco and Ritz’s “Crisp & Thins” spot.

Ritz was a strong performer throughout the tournament. “Crisp & Thins” showed up in the top two spots in both the West and Midwest.

Capital One was also a strong performer, only losing to Reese’s in the final. But Capital One got lucky: it actually came in third place for its overall score! It benefited from a good draw in the tournament, competing against a relatively weak ad from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the first round. In fact, Capital One was only in the top two overall for the Northeast.

Ranking by Region


In the Northeast, Reese’s and Capital One were the clear favorites, with only a single point separating their overall scores.

Coca-Cola was close behind, just a single point behind Capital One. The Northeast was good to Coke, scoring the “Waltz” spot more favorably (81 overall) than any other region. In fact, Coca-Cola didn’t make it to the top four in any other region!. The South gave it a 77, the West a 76 and the Midwest gave it its lowest overall score, a 73.

In the South, Reese’s and LG tied for the top spot overall with Infiniti, Dove, and Ritz Crisp & Thins tied for third place.

In the West, Ritz Crisp and Thins actually took the top spot with a two point lead over Reese’s which came in second place. Capital One and LG were close behind.

In the Midwest, Reese’s took the top spot with Ritz Crisp & Thins only three points behind. Infiniti and Dove tied for third.

What were the final ads’ strongest attributes by region?

The Northeast, South, and Midwest all agreed that Reese’s “Spring Song” was particularly Happy. This was a top Emotion for these three regions. The West, however, were particularly Excited by this ad, and the Northeast and South found the ad to be extremely Likable.

For Capital One’s “Ringtone”, both the West and Midwest agreed that the comical ad was especially Happy, whereas the Northeast found it particularly Likable and Playful. The South, on the other hand, thought it was especially Energetic.

Unlucky Losers? (Or, Ads That Got Knocked Out Early That Actually Performed Very Well Overall)

The Takeaway: great ads are hiding in plain sight.

Nabisco had the bad luck to be paired with eventual champion Reese’s in the second round. If Nabisco had been matched up with any other ad in round two, it would have made it to the final four (though Reese’s still would have taken the win in a finals matchup). The West, in particular, showed a strong preference for the Ritz Crisp & Thins ad. For this region, the Crisp & Thins ad took the top spot with a two point lead over Reese’s which came in second place. Capital One and LG were close behind. Thus, despite getting knocked out early on, the Ritz ad did have a pretty “explosive” impact.

Similarly, LG’s “Mascots” couldn’t match the strength of Reese’s “Spring Song” in the first round, but it was only two points behind in the Feelings round. Overall Mascots was only four points behind Reese’s. It tied with Capital One for fourth place overall. The South, in particular, scored the LG ad quite favorably, where it tied Reese’s for the top spot.

Conversely the LG ad scored a little less favorably for the Northeast and Midwest. The “Mascots” didn’t make it to the top four ads for these regions. While it was not powerful enough to beat Reese’s in the first round, and didn’t score quite as favorably with the Northeast and Midwest, it was still one of the top ads overall.

The last “unlucky” spot was Dove Real Men+Care (Unilever). Their ad got knocked out in the first round of the tournament by fellow CPG giant Nabisco (Ritz Crisp & Thins). Despite this, it actually held up pretty well across each region. It tied for second place in the South, and for third in the Midwest. For the full audience, it tied with Infiniti for fifth place overall.

The Takeaways:

In our report on the Finals, we pointed out that Nostalgia played a big role in this year’s top spots. We also saw big variations in results by age group (millennials vs 35+), suggesting that the sentiments anchoring nostalgia may vary substantially by life stage.

In this post, we highlighted the differences arising from different regional associations with the music and visuals in each spot.

Lastly, even some of the spots that “didn’t do well” actually did really well: they just had the misfortune of going up against a juggernaut.

If you have additional questions, or would like to dive more deeply into the analysis, please contact us or let us know in the comments.

See you at next year’s Tournament!

Advertising Audience Insights

Let’s Get It On: Lessons From March AdNess

Sixteen ads from NCAA sponsors battled it out for the title of March AdNess champion. After a series of nail-biting matches, it came down to two ads: Reese’s “Spring Song” featuring Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On,” and Capital One’s “Ringtone” ad with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Ringtone put up a good fight in the final round, but fell to Spring Song by five points as Reese’s was crowned March AdNess champion.

The ads competed across 4 rounds, with each round scored by a different set of attributes. The attributes were collected about the audio in the spots, and measured by Veritonic’s patent-pending audio analysis technology. Round 1 was scored by the Feelings the ads evoked, Round 2 by the Emotions, Round 3 by the Purchase Intent the spot generated. The final round was scored by the contenders’ overall scores.

What can we learn from this and the other epic battles of the inaugural March AdNess?

Nostalgia Is Big…

First, nostalgia played a strong role in the top contenders. In the final matchup, both the Reese’s and Capital One ads used 70’s music hits. These classic and familiar tunes have built in associations with consumers. In fact, it’s safe to say that both songs have their own (substantial!) brand equity, which the advertisers are trying to tap into. Will this be a trend throughout 2017? Stay tuned.

…But Nostalgia’s Appeal Varies Substantially (By Age!)

A second big takeaway is that the appeal of nostalgia is relatively age-specific! In fact, there was a counter-intuitive appeal to the younger demo with the music in these spots. Despite the fact that the 70’s music in the Reese’s and Capital One ads presumably targeted a slightly older demographic (36-55+) and their nostalgia, the ads actually resonated slightly better with the younger demographic (18-35)! Millennials gave the Reese’s ad an 85 overall, whereas the older demographic gave it a slightly lower (but still statistically significant) 82.

March AdNess 18-35 Demographic

What accounts for this difference? Nostalgia by definition is tapping into associations that the audience has with the asset: a song they danced to at prom, for instance. Perhaps the older demo felt the songs were over-exposed, or perhaps they didn’t appreciate the commercial application of the music. Conversely, perhaps the younger demo didn’t bring as many associations to the music, and we were simply pleased by the stories the brands told.

Nostalgia vs Parody

AT&T may also have been trying to evoke nostalgia, albeit with a slightly younger demo. Its “Parking Booth” ad used a comedic adaptation of Aerosmith’s 1998 “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing”. The AT&T ad scored twelve points higher overall for the younger 18-35 demographic than it did for the 35+ demographic. Ultimately, however, the ad missed the mark, getting knocked out by Coca-Cola in the first round.

Perhaps the parody failed to resonate with women as well as the original song? There was a big difference in scores between males (80) and females (68). The difference may be more about the lounge singer character in the ad than the music used, played by comedian Dan Finnerty.

The other two Final Four spots, by Coca-Cola and Infiniti, leaned heavily on the musical scoring to set their desired tone. Infiniti using inspirational ‘psych’ music for their “#Unbustable Hardwood Heroes, and Coca-Cola’s play on the Cinderella story.

Femme Fatale Finale Four

A third takeaway is that the appeal of the spots in the Final Four varied dramatically by gender. This may be a function, at least in part, of the specific music selections.

Out of these final four ads, Reese’s most successfully seduced Females with the combination of chocolate and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On”. In fact, females gave the Reese’s spot an 85 overall. Females also scored Infiniti’s ad with a custom musical score four points higher for Inspiring than Males did. On the other hand, in spite of the “girl power” message implicit in Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, Capital One’s ad scored five points lower than Reese’s with females.

Coca-Cola’s entry featured an old-timey waltz. While Reese’s took the top spot among Males, Coca-Cola was only two points behind. With Females, however, Coca-Cola’s waltz scored a full eleven points lower overall. This demonstrates that even lesser-known music can still be pretty powerful. For males, Capital One shared the same overall score as Coca-Cola, and Infiniti took fourth place, but only scored three points lower than Capital One and Coca-Cola overall. Males felt a little more inspired by the Coca-Cola and Reese’s ad than they did by the Infiniti ad.

Music Sets The Stage

A final observation is that the ads without a strong musical underpinning tended to be eliminated in the early rounds. Northwestern Mutual’s “Knowing” was the least successful ad of the tournament, and got slaughtered in the first round by Allstate. Allstate in turn didn’t make it out of the second round. Buffalo Wild Wing’s “Foodoo” spot was also knocked out early, in spite of a strong dark humor streak. And Enterprise didn’t make it out of the first round, despite leveraging the undoubtedly popular actress Kristen Bell. It’s absolutely true that not all ads need strong audio. It may be coincidence that none of these spots featured a strong music presence to anchor the spot emotionally…or it may not.

We hope you’ve enjoyed March AdNess!

Advertising Audience Insights

March AdNess Finals Results

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Finals Preview

In the final match, results are determined by Overall Scores. These overall scores are comprised of the Feelings and Emotions scores, as well as Veritonic’s proprietary alogrithms. Whichever ad has the higher Overall Score will be declared the first March Adness champion!

Competing in this final match will be two ads that feature soulful hits from the 70s: Reese’s “Spring Song” with Marvin Gaye’s 1973 “Let’s Get it On”, and Capital One’s “Ringtone” ad with Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit “I Will Survive.” Will the sexy Reese’s ad win the tournament? Or will the star-studded Capital One ad take the win?

Reese’s vs. Capital One

Reeses began the match will with a strong showing among Females as Marvin Gaye intended. His catalog of seductive tunes were written to connect with the emotions of women.  The data confirms Reese’s musical selection for this spot.  Female panelists gave Spring Song an 85 overall, while Males only gave it an 82.

Interestingly, both ads performed better across the younger demographic (18-35) even though they both use songs from the 70s. Millennials gave the Reese’s ad an 85 overall, whereas the older demographic (36-55+) gave it a slightly lower (but still statistically significant) 82.

By contrast, the Capital One ad performed significantly better with the younger demographic (84) than with the older segment. The older demographic, who are likely more familiar with the song, gave it a much lower score (77). Perhaps the older demographic is a little less enthusiastic about these songs since they’ve been exposed to them for a much longer amount of time?

Overall, Reese’s scored better than Capital One across every single emotion and feeling except for Energetic, where the ads tied. Reese’s scored six points higher than Capital One on Happy, Inspiring, and Likable. These consistently high scores across all dimensions gave Reese’s a higher overall score:

Veritonic March AdNess Final Scores

Panelists were also more consistently Excited throughout the Reese’s ad than the Capital One spot.  Capital One’s “Ringtone” on the other hand was perceived as Happier throughout, including a strong “Happy” peak around the eleven second mark.

Emotions Throughout Reese’s “Spring Song” Ad
March AdNess Reese's Engagement
Emotions Throughout Capital One’s “Ringtone” Ad
March AdNess Capital One Engagement

In the battle of Marvin Gaye vs. Gloria Gaynor, Marvin took the medal. The strong emotional appeal of the music in the Reese’s spot was able to provide tremendous emotional texture to a concept as simple as a chocolate bunny kissing a jar of peanut butter.  The Capital One spot also used music as a central part of its concept, but it clearly didn’t hit all of the emotional notes as well as Reese’s.

Capital One certainly “survived”, but it didn’t “Get it on” quite like Reese’s. Reese’s took a four point lead with its overall score making it the first ever March Adness champion!

Final score: Reese’s 84, Capital One 80

Veritonic March AdNess Champion Reese's

Advertising Audience Insights Branding

Round 3 Results Part 2

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Capital One vs. Coca-Cola

Marketing powerhouses Capital One and Coca-Cola gave us the tightest match yet of the tournament: after viewing the ad, Capital One’s spot featuring “I Will Survive” with Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley, Spike Lee, and surprise guest Gloria Gaynor, was TIED for Purchase Intent with Coca Cola’s Cinderella ad featuring a waltz.

The referees huddled and went to the tie-breaker.  After careful review of the videotape and the data, they announced the results: after viewing the ads, intent to use Capital One went up nine points from prior to viewing the ad, whereas for Coca-Cola it went down two points!

For Tournament Viewers, the post-exposure intent scores were much higher. Capital One had a post-exposure intent score of 84 while Coke had a post-exposure intent score of 83.

Males showed a much stronger intent to purchase Coca-Cola than Females: eight points higher!  Males’ intent to purchase Capital One was also higher than females, but only by three points. Overall, females showed a small preference for the Capital One ad whereas the male demographic showed a preference for the Coca-Cola ad. The younger demographic gave both Coca-Cola and Capital One 80s for intent and the older demographic gave them both 72s.

Final Overtime Score: Capital One 84, Coca-Cola 73

Advertising Audience Insights Branding

Round 3 Results Part 1

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Semifinals Overview

In the semifinals, matches are decided by Purchase Intent: how likely are panelists to buy the good or service after being exposed to the ad? In case of a tie, matches will be decided by the difference between intent pre– and post-exposure. Pre-exposure intent measures how a panelist feels about a brand before any exposure to a specific ad, while post-exposure intent (obviously) measures the intent after exposure. 

The Semifinal matchups are:

  • Funny and Sexy vs. Inspiring and Emotional, with Reese’s Spring Song and Infiniti’s “Hardwood Heroes: Unbustable” (Today, March 30)
  • Classy and simple music vs. music used as comedy, with Coca-Cola and Capital One (Friday, March 31)

Reese’s vs. Infiniti

The smart money had Reese’s taking this match, with Infiniti’s inspirational cancer survivors pushing it to the end, on the theory that the seductive sweets receive far more daily consideration than luxury automobiles.

Inifiniti’s Hardwood Heroes did perform well: they pushed Infiniti to a remarkable 18-point swing in Purchase Intent!

In spite of Infiniti’s improvement, it simply started with too big a deficit to overcome.  In fact, Reese’s jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it, recording a 10-point win in Purchase Intent.

The Reese’s spot worked particularly well with Tournament Watchers, who gave Reese’s an intent score that was two points higher than the general population score.

Males and Females shared similar purchase intent for both brands. Purchase intent for Females was 1 point higher than Males for both brands.

Millennials on the other hand had a Purchase Intent score for Reese’s that was three points higher than the older demographic (36-55+). Perhaps they have a bigger sweet tooth? Or those smooth jams really enticed them! The same demographic split played out with Infiniti, with the younger demo scoring the ad eight points higher than the older group.

Final Score: Reese’s 84, Infiniti 74

Advertising Audience Insights

Round 2 Results!

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Round of 8

The remaining 8 NCAA corporate sponsors competed in the Round of Eight to see whose ads evoke Emotions most strongly. Scoring in this round is an average of the emotions Excited and Happy, and does not include the Feeling scores from the Round of Sixteen. Whichever brand achieves this higher overall emotions score will move on to the Final Four. Competing in the second round, we have two snack giants Reese’s versus Nabisco; auto company Infiniti versus auto insurer Allstate; Capital One versus Wendy’s; and Coca-Cola versus Pizza Hut.

Reese’s vs. Nabisco

In the Emotions round, the two snack food giants battled it out: Reese’s “Easter Peanut Butter Egg ‘Spring Song’” and Nabisco’s Ritz “Crisp & Thins Explosive“. The sweet and smooth peanut butter-chocolate treats had a Happy score that was four points higher than its crispy and salty competitor. Both ads shared the same level of Excitement, but Reese’s score for Happy broke the tie.

Millennials in particular loved Reese’s smooth ad. The Happy and Excited scores were much higher than the older demographic (36-55+): eight points higher for Excited and four points higher for Happy

Females had a similar response to the spots, albeit not quite as strong.  They liked the Reese’s ad more than males did, four points higher for Excited, two points higher for Happy. But females also responded better to the Ritz’s spot than men, giving it an Excited score four points higher than the male score.

Of course, Tournament Watchers had a different reaction: for this group, the companies tie on Happy…but Ritz’s took a four point lead for Excited.   

Once again, the ad powered by Marvin Gaye triumphs!

Final Score: Reese’s 84, Nabisco 83

Infiniti vs. Allstate

Infiniti entered the round as an underdog to Allstate: the pros feared that the darker vibe of the Infiniti’s “Hardwood Heroes: Unbustable” ad might negatively impact its score for Happy, while Allstate had Dean Winters’ portrayal of Mayhem as a Bracket Buster to lighten it up.

Infiniti started strong with a two point lead for both Excited and Happy.  These results were reinforced with Females, where Infiniti’s ad scored two points higher for Excited, and Allstate’s ad scored two points lower for Happy, which showed that Infiniti’s ad was a clear winner across this demographic.

In the end, Infiniti pulled out a two point win over Allstate.  Infiniti’s cancer survivors playing basketball did not impact its Excited and Happy score in a negative way.  Meanwhile, the humor of the Allstate ad did not make it perform any better in these areas.

Final Score: Infiniti 79, Allstate 77

Capital One vs. Wendy’s

Capital One and Wendy’s competed in round 2 in a faceoff of lighthearted ads. Wendy’s brought facepainting fans and fresh beef to the matchup, while Capital One’s “Ringtone” spot brought Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley, Spike Lee…and Gloria Gaynor!?!?!??

Wendy’s basketball-themed ad had appeal for Millennials, who ranked the ad four points higher on both Emotions than the general population.  But in a preview of the overall match, Capital One’s ad scored even better across this demographic: six points higher on both emotions.

The outcome of the match was really sealed by the Female demographic, who scored the Wendy’s ad four points lower for Excited and six points lower for Happy, versus the general population.  As with the millennials, the female demo ranked Capital One’s music driven ad six points higher on both emotions.

Tournament watchers scored the Capital One two points higher for both Happy and Excited.  So it’s no surprise that overall, Capital One’s music-driven ad scored two points higher on both Happy and Excited, helping them beat Wendy’s by two points overall.

Final Score: Capital One 81, Wendy’s 79

Coca-Cola vs. Pizza Hut

The final match of the second round featured a tight match between Coca-Cola and Pizza Hut.  Coke brought a waltz to the Big Dance, while Pizza Hut brought Grant Hill, amazing sneakers, and a hip-hop soundtrack.

Pizza Hut jumped out to an early lead on the strength of their showing with Millennials, who gave the ad Happy and Excited scores four points higher than Coca-Cola’s.

In a foreshadowing of the rest of the match, however, Pizza Hut’s punny “Pie Tops” ad simply didn’t resonate with the general population. It had a Happy score that was two points lower than the simpler and more romantic Coca-Cola ad.

With the general population, both ads shared the same Excited score.  Coca-Cola’s overall lead was driven by the older demographic (36-55+) who gave the Coca-Cola spot a very high score (80) for Happy.  This higher Happy score gave Coca-Cola the win. Coca-Cola only beat Pizza Hut by a point.

On a side note, both ads did not appeal as much to the Female demographic, where the Happy and Excited scores were two-four points lower than the general population..

Final Score: Coca-Cola 78, Pizza Hut 77

Join us Thursday at 2pm ET for the first Semifinal matchup!

Advertising Audience Insights

Round 1 Results!

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Round 1 Results


Reese’s vs. LG

The initial matchup in the round of 16 features two humorous ads: Reese’s “Easter Peanut Butter Egg” and LG’s “Game On with ‘Mascots Knock‘”. Reese’s seductive ad features Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” playing in the background, and uses the music to create an early six point lead in the attributes of Likable and Inspiring.  LG’s funny looking mascots act out the commercial to a catchy guitar and drum riff, but can’t catch up to Reeses.

At the game’s end, Reese’s chocolate bunny beats LG’s mascots by two points. Even so, LG’s “Mascots” performed very well, especially considering that it didn’t have the help of an iconic song in this spot.

Final score: Reese’s 83, LG 81

Nabisco vs. Unilever/Dove

The next match up is a battle of the CPG giants Nabisco and Unilever. Nabisco’s Ritz Crisp & Thins “Explosive” went up against Unilever’s Dove Men+Care “Real Winners Care“. Ritz’s ten point lead for its Playful score boosted its overall Feelings score and ultimately pushed Nabisco into the next round. It truly was an “explosive” performance! Nabisco took a three point lead in this “Feelings” round and won the match.

Final score: Nabisco 81, Unilever 78

Infiniti vs. Buick

The two automotive corporate sponsors Infiniti and Buick battled it out in the “Feelings” round. Infiniti’s “Hardwood Heroes” ad depicts fierce athletes training for a basketball game, to a thumping hard rock track… who all happen to be cancer survivors. Meanwhile, Buick’s “Philly and Boston” features 3 coworkers taking a lighthearted road trip in their Buick. 

Infiniti’s emotional spot took a massive twelve point lead in both Energetic and — unsurprisingly — Inspiring.  The more playful Buick ad did not have as strong an impact on its viewers, and fell by six points overall.  This is in spite of Buick featuring the song “It’s Alright” by indie rockers Matt and Kim.

Final score: Infiniti 79, Buick 73

Allstate vs. Northwestern Mutual

In this battle of the insurance companies, Allstate’s “March Mayhem: Bracket” and Northwestern Mutual’s “Knowing” fought for their spot in round 2. Allstate’s ad was perceived as notably more Energetic, by 14 points.  Allstate also won on the attribute Unique.  Perhaps most importantly Allstate opened up a 17 point gap on Northwestern Mutual in the attribute of Playful, the single largest gap in scores in the first round! This is likely due to Allstate’s use of humor and the Dean Winters “Mayhem” character in the spot. 

In the end, Allstate slaughtered Northwestern mutual with an eight point lead overall. 

Final score: Allstate 72, Northwestern Mutual 64

Capital One vs. Enterprise

Capital One and Enterprise tried to earn their place in round 2 in a matchup subtitled “Battle of the Spokespeople.” Capital One’s “This is March Madness – Ringtone” and Enterprise’s “If Only” ads both starred well-known actors. Capital One’s spot featured longtime spokesman Samuel L. Jackson, accompanied by Charles Barkley and Spike Lee. Enterprise featured actress Kristen Bell. 

Both spots take a humorous approach.  Despite this similarity, Capital One took a strong six point lead for Energetic and Playful.  The difference?  Samuel L. Jackson’s cover of “I Will Survive”…accompanied by songstress Gloria Gaynor! 

As a result, Capital One’s upbeat, musically-driven ad beat out the less musical Enterprise ad by four points.  

Final score: Capital One 79, Enterprise 75

Marriott Rewards vs. Wendy’s

It was a tough, brutal  competition between hospitality giant Marriott and fast food restaurant Wendy’s.  The competitors were tied in a number of Attributes, like Optimistic and Unique.  In others, both players held a small lead: Marriott led by 2 points in Inspired, for instance, while Wendy’s led by 2 points in Playful.  Wendy’s score for Energetic was four points higher than Marriott’s, which helped them take a small lead.  

In the end, Wendy’s “Going the Extra Mile with the NCAA” edged out Marriott’s “Through the Madness” by a single point. 

Final score: Wendy’s 77, Marriott Rewards 76

AT&T vs. Coca-Cola

The top of the second bracket featured 2 major advertisers using music front-and-center in their spots: AT&T’s “Parking Booth” and Coca-Cola’s “Cinderella”. The AT&T spot featured an  adaptation of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” sung by comedian Dan Finnerty. The Coca-Cola ad has a more romantic song, the waltz-style “Fully Fashioned” by George French, front-and-center in the spot, which visually focuses on the image of a Coke bottle. 

Both spots were tied for Unique, but in all the other dimensions, AT&T’s spot misses the mark.  

The AT&T ad is intended to be humorous, but Coke’s spot is still perceived as more Playful.  Ultimately, Coca-Cola was able to open up an eight-point gap for Likable and Inspiring, from which AT&T was never able to recover.  

Coke takes the first round by four points, and the schmaltzy waltz wins the first dance.

Final Score: Coca-Cola 78, AT&T 74

Pizza Hut vs. Buffalo Wild Wings

The final matchup of round 1 featured fast food phenoms Pizza Hut and Buffalo Wild Wings both featured “punny” ads. Pizza Hut’s “$7.99 2-Topping Pizza featuring Grant Hill and PIE TOPS” (their emphasis, not ours!) faced off against Buffalo Wild Wings “Foodoo”.  Buffalo Wild Wings kept the match tied with Unique (both scored a 76), and kept it close with Playful (a 76 to Pizza Hut’s 78).  But Pizza Hut started to open a bigger gap with Likable (a 76 to Buffalo Wild Wings’ 74), and then cracked it open with an 8-point spread on Optimistic.   

In the end, the Pie Tops stomped on the Foodoo Doll (watch the spots to see what they mean).  Pizza Hut defeated Buffalo Wild Wings by four points overall.

Final Score: Pizza Hut 77, Buffalo Wild Wings 73

Advertising Audience Insights

Round of 16 Preview

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Round of 16 Preview

16 powerful and creative ads from top NCAA sponsors like Coca-Cola and AT&T will face off to see whose ads evoke the most intense Feelings. This group of brands bring a diverse set of approaches to their advertising. The styles range from the intentionally comical, like Buffalo Wild Wing’s “Foodoo”, to Infiniti’s intense and serious “Hardwood Heroes,” to the matter-of-fact ads like Buick’s “Lacrosse ‘Philly and Boston’”, to the completely music-centered Reese’s “Easter Peanut Butter Egg”.March Adness: Round of 16 Preview

Stay tuned for highlights like:

  • The battle of CPG giants Nabisco and Unilever: find out whose ad is more playful!
  • Will the simple and romantic “Cinderella” ad from Coca-Cola defeat the comical “Parking Booth” AT&T ad?
  • Insurance giants Allstate and Northwestern Mutual match up: will Allstate’s Mayhem be more Energetic than Northwestern Mutual’s Thinking?
  • The Auto Crash: will Buick’s “Philly and Boston” spot be more Likable than Infiniti’s Hardwood Heroes?
  • And many more!

Scores in this round are an average of the feelings Energetic, Inspiring, Likable, Optimistic, Playful, and Unique. Whichever brand achieves the higher overall feelings score will move on to the Round of 8.

Advertising Audience Insights

Announcing March AdNess — Press Release

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The Thrill of Victory, the Ad-gony of Defeat: Audio Analytics Platform Veritonic Pits NCAA Tournament Sponsors’ Ads in March AdNess Showdown

New York, NY — March 27, 2017 — Everyone’s talking about how teams in the NCAA match up. But what if the tournament’s sponsors competed, putting their ads in play?

Veritonic, the premier marketing analytics platform for sound, wanted to find out, so they launched March AdNess, in which ads’ sound and music go neck and neck, and only the sonically strongest survive. Full of upsets, underdog victors, and other surprises, this tournament promises to be as exciting as college basketball’s big event!

Sound is one of the most compelling elements in advertising, yet was neglected by analytics platforms until Veritonic jumped into the game. “There are tools for measuring almost every other aspect of content’s effectiveness, except sound,” explains Scott Simonelli, founder and CEO of Veritonic. “We’re providing the final piece of the puzzle. We help brands benchmark and test the emotional and demographic appeal of music, audio logos, voiceovers, and other audio assets used for marketing.” Veritonic combines proprietary marketing-response data with predictive algorithms and a unique demographic search engine, giving users insight into how their audio content fits with specific marketing goals.

The March AdNess tournament will also give insights into which of the 16 top NCAA tournament sponsors have scored a slam dunk with their ads’ soundtracks. Here’s how Veritonic did it: They assembled a panel of US Census-representative viewers from the general population, who interacted with the ad challengers via Veritonic’s patent-pending technology, which allows them to record their Emotions (more basic, visceral responses) and Feelings (more nuanced impressions, such as Energetic or Optimistic) as the ad plays. Panelists were also asked to report associations the ad evoked, including purchase intent and viewership of the actual NCAA tournament.  

The matches in each round will be scored using specific metrics collected by Veritonic’s platform. Scoring in the Round of Sixteen is based on the Feelings each ad evokes: how Energetic, Inspiring, Likable, Optimistic, Playful, and Unique each spot is. The Round of Eight will be scored on how well the ads evoke Happiness and Excitement. The Semifinals will be scored based on the impact each spot has on Purchase Intent, and the Finals will be scored using Veritonic’s proprietary algorithms to produce an Overall score.

Scores for all “competitors” and matches will be available at, chronicling each tournament milestone:

  • Round of 16: Monday 3/27
  • Round of Eight: Tuesday 3/28
  • Semifinals: match 1 Thursday 3/30, match 2 Friday 3/31
  • National Championship:  Monday 4/3

“The first round of matches makes clear the importance of music in establishing the mood of the spot and helping a marketer to achieve their goals,” explains Simonelli. “The spots that best evoke Feelings use music in a way that’s central to the spot, like Reese’s skipping a voiceover entirely and using ‘Let’s Get it On’ by Marvin Gaye, or Ritz Crackers and LG relying on heavily on music and saving the voiceover to the end of their spots. The lowest performers in the first round, by contrast, either don’t emphasize music, like Northwestern Mutual, or rely entirely on voiceover, like Allstate.”

“We were really surprised by some of the results,” Simonelli continues. “There were some upsets we didn’t predict, some come-from-behind victories. It really shows that just going with your gut isn’t enough when it comes to evaluating what works for sound in advertising and marketing. You need the data, and that’s what we’ve figured out how to gather and analyze.”


About Veritonic:

Veritonic is the premier marketing analytics platform for sound.  We help brands like Subway, Coca Cola, and CBS Television make data-driven selections about the audio elements of marketing campaigns.  Our software tests and benchmarks the emotional and demographic appeal of audio assets like music, voiceover, audio branding, and more.

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Market Research Lessons From the 2016 Election

Market research lessons from election 2016
It’s now been just over a couple of weeks since the 2016 presidential election was concluded, and virtually all of the forecasts were wrong. Polls predicted a small but persistent lead for Hillary Clinton. Even respected forecasters like FiveThirtyEight were predicting as late as the morning of the election that HRC would win. And while she did succeed in winning the popular vote, Donald Trump ultimately won the election by amassing well over the required 270 electoral votes.

How did the forecasters get it so wrong? And given the close relationship between the techniques that both polling companies and market researchers use, what lessons can market researchers take away from the election?

The Root of all Evil: Sampling Error

The wrong predictions are rooted in many causes, but from a market research perspective, they all boil down to sampling error. What is sampling error? Instead of trying to collect opinions or feedback from everyone, which is obviously not feasible, researchers collect feedback from a smaller subset, or sample, of the population, and extrapolate conclusions from that data. When the sample doesn’t accurately reflect the larger population, researchers are far more likely to draw the wrong conclusions.

sampling error led to missed forecasts in election coverage How did sampling error play into the missed forecasts about the election? One of the most controversial hypotheses before the election was that many Trump supporters, embarrassed by his positions and rhetoric, declined to identify themselves as supporters to polling organizations that contacted them, the so-called “Shy Trump” effect. While specifics on the voting data is still coming in, and will be analyzed for decades to come, early data indicates that this fear is correct. Many Trump supporters, especially women, have since told exit polling organizations, that they were reluctant to share their support for Trump.

The Very Model of a Modern Major General (Election)

A closely related issue is the model of the voting electorate that the forecasters used. Simply assessing the sentiment of a sample of the general population is not sufficient. Forecasting the outcome of a vote means making assumptions about who will actually make it to the voting booth to cast a vote, and then make sure their sample reflects this makeup. Pollsters, like market researchers, slice the population into actionable segments they can contact, like “soccer moms” or “auto intenders.” With a groundswell of support from certain groups of voters that were generally underrepresented in most polling models— for instance, market research lessons from Veritonic white males in the midwest states with less than a college degree, but also certain sectors of the Hispanic electorate — it’s not a shock that the models got the outcome wrong.

The sampling error is further compounded by researchers’ ability to contact individuals, period. The traditional technique for polling was to randomly telephone individuals and have a person ask questions. In a time when virtually the entire population had landlines, and could reliably be counted on to answer them, this was a great technique. But a broad variety of technologies have made the simple contacting of panelists much more difficult. Landlines have been in decline, in favor of cell phones, which marketers are actually legally prohibited from calling by an automatic dialing system. Even the ability to screen calls makes it that much easier for potential panelists to avoid being contacted.

Not All Bad

Market research is impacted by all of these factors. And yet, there is cause for optimism. Companies specializing in finding panelists from a broad variety of backgrounds have sprung up over the last few years, facilitated by the internet. Even though the panelists from these companies are generally compensated, which introduces its own set of biases, they’ve “raised their hand” and are available to ask questions. This virtually eliminates the “Shy” phenomenon.

Similarly, the fact that these panelists have raised their hands greatly reduces the “contactability” issue. There may be timing to consider — it will always be difficult to get a large number of responses in an hour, for instance — but generally panel providers have contact details, and permission, from their panel members. market research insights Technology makes modeling the desired population easier too. Marketers generally develop highly detailed models of their desired audience. Many panels available for commercial use have deep background data on individual panel members, collected when they sign up or over time, making the construction of a representative panel matching a marketer’s needs much easier.

Market researchers can also use data to refine their survey taking experience. For instance, at Veritonic we monitor the feedback and completion rates on our surveys closely. Our surveys largely consist of listening and responding to music and similar audio, and panelists taking our surveys tell us it’s a much more enjoyable experience than other market research experiences they’ve participated in, and we constantly think about how to make it an even better experience.

The results of the 2016 election should give everyone reason to pause and reflect. But market researchers should not be overly concerned that the missed forecasts require tossing out all of the survey techniques that have been honed over the past hundred years.