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Pre-Mature Decoration: Brands Deck the Halls, But Are Viewers Paying Attention?

I turned on the TV Halloween night and kid you not, I saw sleigh bells. What the hell? Then last week, I walked into a Starbucks to the sound of Bing Crosby and I got kind of pissed off. When it starts so early my taste for it is soiled (in like two weeks). And I wondered, what kind of data tells them to start Xmas before Thanksgiving?

At first blush, the logic seems to kind of make sense. Get into the heads of consumers by the time they taste Turkey so come black Friday, they’re on auto-buy. But there is an inherent risk in that. All ads run a burn-out ratio, whereby the longer they run, the more they are seen, the more likely they are to be turned off and tuned out. (And in my case the more likely I am to hate them and not purchase anything, ever as repayment for the assault on my senses).

Using TV ad attention metrics from iSpot.tv, I looked at ten holiday-themed ads with airings between Oct. 31 and Nov. 15 to see how brands are spending and if viewers are channeling the spirit (aka paying attention) or burning up that yuletide cheer 6 weeks out.

What you find is a mixed bag. Some brands are leveraging new concepts, new stories to engage viewers. Some, like Gap, which just can’t get away from the sweater-wearing jump-jiving, is inspiring the eject button from viewers and getting coal in exchange for their crimes against our desire for new, interesting ads (or our tolerance thereof).

Dish Network – ‘The Spokeslistener: Mister Snowman’

Estimated Spend: $100,553 on 28 airings that have generated 8.8 million impressions

Attention Index: 155, meaning it has received 55% fewer interruptions than the average cable/satellite/ISP ad (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV)


Macy’s – ‘Lighthouse’

Estimated Spend: $2.5 million on 141 airings that have generated 60.4 million impressions

Attention Index: 146, meaning that it has received 46% fewer interruptions than the average retail ad


‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ TV Movie Trailer

Estimated Spend: $301,073 on 128 airings that have generated 36.5 million impressions

Attention Index: 137, meaning that it has received 37% fewer interruptions than the average movie trailer


Walmart – ‘Christmas Like a Rock Star’ featuring music by Pete Townshend

Estimated Spend: $3.5 million on 885 airings that have generated 243.5 million impressions

Attention Index: 136, meaning it has received 36% fewer interruptions than the average retail ad


Intel 8th Gen Core – ‘LeBron’s Holiday Future’ Featuring Jim Parsons

Estimated Spend: $2.4 million on 1,150 airings that have generated 214.4 million impressions

Attention Index: 131, meaning it has received 31% fewer interruptions than the average computer/tablet ad


Academy Sports + Outdoors – ‘Christmas List’

Estimated Spend: $46,394 on 21 airings that have generated 31.9 million impressions

Attention Index: 130, meaning that it has received 30% fewer interruptions than the average retail ad


Target – ‘A Home for the Holidays’

Estimated Spend: $11.2 million on 1,100 airings that have generated 431.2 million impressions

Attention Index: 120, meaning it has received 20% fewer interruptions than the average retail ad


Lexus – ‘Whispers’

Estimated Spend: $3.8 million on 442 airings that have generated 150.2 million impressions

Attention Index: 86, meaning it has received 14% more interruptions than the average auto ad


eBay – ‘Surprise Surprise’

Estimated Spend: $327,227 on 129 airings that have generated 34.3 million impressions

Attention Index: 50, meaning that it has received 50% more interruptions than the average online retail ad


Gap – ‘To Perfect Harmony’ Featuring Janelle Monáe

Estimated Spend: $4.7 million on 298 airings that have generated 169.9 million impressions

Attention Index: 49, meaning it has received 51% more interruptions than the average retail ad