Samsung's marketing blitz vs. Apple: Effective, but big data would help

Samsung has spent $770 million over the last two years marketing its mobile devices and has dented Apple. But good luck pinning a Facebook like, Super Bowl ads, and buzz to actual sales. Better analytics are likely to change that equation.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Samsung's master marketing plan — initiated in 2012 and playing out through this year — appears to have worked well against Apple, but judging returns is a bit tricky.

CNET: Emails from Apple exec show worry over Samsung ads 

Full coverage of Apple vs. Samsung

The consumer electronics giant's marketing plans were made part of the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial that's currently underway. The trial has revealed that Samsung marketed heavily against the iPhone and rattled Apple to some degree. In 2013, Apple spent more on marketing and advertising to close a branding gap.

Kantar Media recently highlighted the mobile phone marketing gap.

Those figures are stunning. Samsung spent $364.03 million marketing phones in 2013, down from 2012, but still impressive. Apple spent $350.9 million on advertising in 2013.

Samsung in fiscal 2013 reported revenue of $128.4 billion for its mobile unit, up 32 percent from $105.8 billion. Based on revenue, it's clear that Samsung's marketing blitz made some impact. Unfortunately for chief marketing officers who go by gut feel over data, big bang ad spends are likely to need more analytics to justify them in the future. 

kantarsamsung spend


Here's a look at Samsung's roadmap:

samsung roadmap

The big takeaways from the Samsung marketing doc go like this:

  • Samsung prior to 2012 revolved around the channel and offline media. Only four percent of the marketing mix in the first half of 2011 was digital. As far as media buys went, 86 percent of them were offline in the first half of 2011.
  • The company then moved to "own our brand" and went digital. The media mix quickly went to 40 percent online.
  • Meanwhile, the company's Next Big Thing ads — the ones mocking people who stand in Apple lines — launched and gained buzz. As a result, Samsung gained more efficiency in getting its brand recognized.
  • Samsung in its presentation noted that the ads depositioned Apple somewhat.
  • A similar strategy for Samsung's Galaxy Note Super Bowl ad was launched. Samsung reveals impact stats around Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and YouTube views.

But what's missing is what a Facebook fan is worth. Samsung did note that qualified traffic was increasingly asking for the company's products at Best Buy and AT&T stores following the Super Bowl ad.

samsung nbt

The document tries to connect sales, brand, and awareness, but you have to wonder what Samsung's current plan looks like in the age of big data. Can the company get closer to tying an ad to a purchase? That metric is the Holy Grail and Samsung's approach at present seems very much like fire hose marketing. With any luck, there will be some other lawsuit surfacing Samsung marketing docs to show the evolution with a little help from analytics advances.


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