YouGovPolimetrix interviewed & supplied data to Mediapost about Microsoft's ad campaigns

Microsoft Ad Buzz Has Been A Mixed Bag So Far

Microsoft ad with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld Nearly two weeks since Microsoft launched the $300 million advertising campaign featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, it appears that consumers can't make up their minds whether it will give Vista, and the Windows franchise, a brand makeover.

YouGovPolimetrix's BrandIndex "Buzz" score for the ad dropped 36% overall from its early September high, but it remains positive overall. The Buzz measures how much of an impact recent news about a brand has on consumers.

On Sept. 2, Microsoft's Buzz score registered 25, with 31% of consumers saying they had heard something positive about the brand in the last two weeks. By Sept. 4, the first night the Gates/Seinfeld ad aired, Buzz had dropped significantly. Overall, the brand had a 6% decline in the number of consumers hearing positive news about the brand, and a 7% increase in those hearing negative news.

The Buzz dropped slightly the Monday after the campaign began, but has remained fairly stable. While Buzz scores fell 36%, from 25 to 16 overall, a closer look at the stats reveals the impact on age groups.

Ted Marzilli, SVP and GM of the Brand Group at research firm YouGovPolimetrix, says that without having an impact on consumers in the short term, there's no chance that advertisements and news will have an impact in the long term. "Preliminary data show 35- to-49-year-olds had a positive reaction from the ad, while 18- to-34-year-olds had a negative, but seemed to rebound quickly," he says.

The scores clearly reflect that the ads had a greater effect on consumers who might have watched "Seinfeld" in the 1990s. The Buzz score for 35- to-49-year-olds registered nearly 7 on Sept. 4 when the ad broke, but rose to 23 within 10 days, compared with 18- to-34- year-olds, which registered a score of 9, dropping to minus 1 a few days later. It confirms that the younger crowd was less impressed with the ad.

Marzilli says the advertisements have been talked up in the media, which is probably the reason that on Sept. 8 the Buzz score for 18- to-34-year-olds reversed, rising to 11. "Perhaps that's a reflection of the ad being discussed in the blogosphere or on YouTube, giving today's youth the impression the ad is cooler than once thought," he says. "I think the talk has generated more interest and people must be more interested in seeing the third part of the ad."

That's good news for Microsoft, but it's too early to predict whether it will have an impact on Vista sales. Marzilli says there's a lag between buzz/advertising and sales. The length of time depends on the industry and product. When carmakers launch a new model, they don't expect to see a change in sales for six to 12 months after a major campaign starts, he says, but a restaurant chain would see the results much more quickly.

Microsoft's ads may not prompt consumers who have no plans to buy a PC upgrade to Vista from Windows XP, but they could for those looking to purchase new computers, he says.