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Apple’s Ad Strategy: No Social, No Problem

Whether it be fraud, brand safety, transparency, the lack of cross-platform metrics, or the abundance of other problems plaguing the advertising industry, Apple just showed us one thing…

Good marketing leads to even better results.

While companies like Facebook recently lost roughly $120 billion in value the hours following its Q2 earnings report, Apple managed to grow revenue by 17% YOY sending its stock price up 3%. But how?

Obviously there are many factors that play into this equation; like their incredible UX/UI resulting in the overall dependency consumers have on their hardware, the additional revenue coming from subscriptions and services, and of course, their marketing.

Whether it be the sleek, simplistic ads demonstrating the utility of their stable of products, or the captivating “Welcome Home” spot directed by Spike Jonze and starring FKA Twigs to launch their brand new HomePod device, Apple has their marketing down to a science. And the secret to their success is through a mix of TV and digital.

Here is a summary of the Q2 marketing effort that resulted in revenues of $53.3 billion:

  • Apple spent an estimated $178 million on digital and TV advertising in Q2’18 according to estimates from TV attention and conversion analytics provider iSpot.tv and digital estimates from digital advertising supply-chain intelligence company Pathmatics.
  • Apple spent an estimated $118 million on TV during Q2, generating 3.27 Billion TV ad impressions, advertising their iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Music product lines.
  • Overall TV spending rose 35.8% from the same period in 2017, when Apple spent $86.9 million across product lines, generating 2.5 Billion TV ad impressions.
  • Apple spent an estimated $60 million on digital in Q2, generating more than 3.4 billion impressions with 85.87% coming from YouTube
  • Desktop video accounted for 78% of digital advertising spend, with mobile video taking 13% of the pie while no dollars went direct to social.

Digital Metrics as provided by Pathmatics:

  • From April 1 – June 30, 2018, Apple spent an estimated $60 million on digital, generating more than 3.4 billion impressions with 85.87% coming from YouTube, according to Pathmatics. (Year over year, both spend and impressions are up slightly, but no anomalies.)
  • Nearly 100% of their digital spend was used in direct marketing channels, with 367 unique creatives surfacing during the time period.
  • Apple invested mainly in desktop video, which accounted for 78% of their digital spend compared to mobile video (13%). On the other hand, Apple spent practically nothing going direct to social platforms.

Apple on TV:

  • Apple focused their TV ad spend on big sporting events, like NBA Basketball, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and SportsCenter.
  • The bulk of spending for Apple’s TV advertising was in support of iPhone products where the company spent $93.1 million–  48.6% of mobile device products spending in the quarter, well ahead of Samsung’s $73.8 million in the same period.

Notable Creative Performance

  • Unlike most creatives that air in heavy rotation, the RED ad kept viewer attention far above the industry average of creatives at the same time. The RED ad was interrupted 34% less than other mobile device campaigns in the same period. Apple ran 8 ads in Q2 for its devices, with How to Shoot Soccer on iPhone X ($9.7 mm) and Studio in Your Pocket ($16.9mm) all of which outperformed the industry average in terms of viewer attention.