New Internet Explorer commercial is better than the browser

Last night, while watching "The Walking Dead", I breezed past an Internet Explorer 9 ad, while fast-forwarding commercials. I actually stopped to watch the last 15 seconds or so. Perhaps it was the one here or another similar. I'm uncertain, since Ryan Gavin, Internet Explorer General Manager, says the TV spot above airs tonight and I already deleted the recorded program.

I must say, though, there's something appropriate about an Internet Explorer commercial running during "The Walking Dead" -- that's assuming where I saw one last night. I also fast-forwarded commercials during a show about kittens my daughter watched, and perhaps I saw the ad there. Considering IE's declining usage share, there's metaphor here in the AMC drama.

But life springs new from good marketing, and the IE spot is catchy. It's fast and fluid -- hell, like the ad professes the browser is. The tagline is compelling: "A more beautiful web" is: "a story"; "alive"; "artistic"; "high definition".

"The spot you see above features the work of Keith Rivers, a Seattle-based filmmaker who became part of our team for this project, and Alex Clare, a British singer-songwriter, whose music has been on repeat in our cars and offices for the past two months", Gavin says.

But I see something more compelling about the IE spot: Commercial fast-forwarders like myself will still get branding impact. Boston College professors Adam Brasel and James Gips have done some amazing research in this area, finding that DVR fast-forwarders who skip commercials pay more attention to the TV, which makes sense if they're looking for when to hit the play button. Brasel and Gips also found that centrally placed brands get noticed more. According to the researchers:

Although fast-forwarding harms ad effectiveness overall, there is considerable variance between commercials. Fast-forwarding viewers focus their attention on a small central portion of the screen. Only brand information within this central diagnostic area is visually attended to, and the disparity in visual attention between central and peripheral brand information attention is strongest for fast-forwarding viewers.

They emphasize: "Although the advertisements last little more than a second and lose all audio and narrative consistency, those with strong central branding can break through fast-forwarding and still achieve brand memory".

Centrally-placed IE branding and benefits (e.g., "fast", "fluid", etc.) define the commercial. Microsoft should adopt this approach to more of its TV spots:

  • Centrally place brands or products on the screen, since fast-forwarders are more likely than regular viewers to remember the brand or product.
  • Increase brand exposure, since, according to Brasel and Gip's research, both fast-forwarders and regular viewers better remember brands or products centrally placed for 12 seconds or more.
  • Combine story-line with long brand exposure, which better reaches those who fast forward and those who do not.

Overall, I really dig the new IE commercial, but see hidden value in the centrally-placed branding. Do you see the new ad as a winner?

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