Shareability is Key to Advertising Value

Creating paid media that tugs at people's heartstrings may be the key to content distribution far exceeding the eyeballs that actually see an ad on TV.Don't waste your advertising money on celebrities and focus instead on ads that project warmth and happiness, which trigger a deeper emotional response and are more shareable on social media.

That's the conclusion of Unruly, a marketing technology company that used its proprietary tracking software to evaluate this year's Super Bowl TV ads. In a report called The Science of Sharing 2014, Unruly said none of the top three most shared ads featured celebrities, which included Bob Dylan, Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, U2, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Muppets.

The most shareable ads, according to Unruly, starred a cute puppy, a caring soldier and a multicultural cast. "It wasn't famous faces that that had people sharing at this year's Super Bowl," Unruly said.

Unruly published its findings "to help advertisers maximize their online presence" to leverage greater value from paid media. It is not enough, the firm said, to make a big one-night splash. Brands also need a content distribution strategy.

"For brands, it's no longer just about their TV ads being on the Super Bowl," Unruly concluded. "With more than 24 million shares tracked every 24 hours, the real opportunity for marketers is to connect their paid TV sponsorship with their paid online media, where their ads can be watched and shared before, during and way after the Big Game."

The Unruly report also chided marketers for fuzzy ads. It noted that 93 percent of the people who actually watched the Bob Dylan ad failed to connect it to its sponsor, Chrysler. Twelve percent of viewers thought it was an ad about revitalizing Detroit, while 3 percent thought it was ad paid for by Ford.

The runaway most shareable ad was Budweiser's Puppy Love, which earned nearly 2 million shares. Unruly said Microsoft missed the boat with its Empowering ad, which had all the characteristics to earn shares, but was launched on the day of the Super Bowl and wound up earning only 80,000 shares.

Most businesses, brands and organizations don't advertise on Super Bowl games. However, the lessons learned from Unruly's report apply more broadly. Don't be wowed by personality. Have solid research to support the use of a spokesperson, whether he or she is a celebrity or not. Find ways to touch people's heartstrings before trying to insert your message into their brain. Shareability of content — whether paid or earned — is an effective, powerful and relatively inexpensive way to improve the ROI of your outreach.

Those are lessons anyone can use anywhere on any subject.