Video Essentials

Getting Schooled: What Works in Back-to-School Online Video Ads


It’s back-to-school shopping season, and video analytics company Ace Metrix has been busy rating the back-to-school online video ads. It found 43 ads by its August 4th cutoff time, and rated each one with an Ace Score. The Ace Score looks at six factors that can influence consumers: relevance, likability, information, change, attention, and desire.

Before jumping into the results, here are a few factoids for back-to-school marketers: Ace found that 9 of the top 10 ads featured a deal, while 22 of the ads in total talked up a deal or promotion.

The top 10 ads differed from the bottom 10 in their creative storytelling and visuals, and in their ability to create desire even before announcing the sale or promotion. One of the finalists, L.L. Bean, does this especially well: “One example of this is L.L. Bean’s ‘The Chase,’ which follows students as they enthusiastically head off on an adventure to do ‘homework’ in the outdoors. It ends with the subtle announcement of 20 percent off for back-to-school shopping,” Ace wrote in a blog post.

This one-two approach is especially successful, Ace says: Creating desire before offering the promotion helps improve brand perception and purchase intent. Simply offering a deal might not be enough to break apart from the competition.

The bottom 10 ads often used celebrities and humor, which Ace cautions can be risky. Both celebrities and humor can be polarizing to viewers. Deals are the real appeal in back-to-school ads, not personalities.

Here are Ace Metrix’s top 10 back-to-school shopping ads.

  1. Microsoft, Toney: 30
  2. Kohl’s, Get Shopping
  3. Staples, Huge Selection
  4. L.L. Bean, The Chase
  5. Staples, 50 Cents Deal
  6. Shoe Carnival, Back to School
  7. Old Navy, Back to School Breakdown: Ready to Make Some Noise With Old Navy
  8. Best Buy, Clubbing: 30
  9. WalMart, Batman: 15
  10. Fruit of the Loom, Magic Marker: Back to School Bonus Pack



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