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Analysis Finds Content About Tech Trends Draws Attention to Ads About Anything

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Technology has improved our lives in many ways, and we now rely on it for everything from work to entertainment, education and productivity. It’s no surprise, then, that technology is a very closely-followed industry, and advertisers have found many ways to capitalize on that society-wide interest.

But, what exactly can advertisers do to make the most of this hungry audience? Sure, they can advertise on a tech news site or with retailers like Best Buy. But, beyond the obvious techie crowd, there is a wealth of opportunities left uncovered.

Let’s take a closer look at what that means. Looking back at dozens of Fortune 500 companies' advertising campaigns last quarter, Taykey’s Real-Time Trend Report revealed that tech trends clearly dominated the most successful ads. When I say “trends,” I mean any topic that drives attention and engagement across any number of online sources. So the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, for instance, is a trend that may have emerged out of news articles announcing its release date, tweets from tech leaders and gadgeteers, blog comments on a review or replays on a promo video.

The trends about tech produced one out of five real-time advertising impressions last quarter, and drove outstanding engagement with ad content. In fact, ads placed around technology topics performed an average of 70 percent over industry benchmarks, with some ads performing up to 925 percent over.

Related: Marketers Should Consider These 5 Tech Trends in the Coming Year

What’s interesting about these trends is they have very broad-reaching impacts beyond the tech industry. For instance, ads about food and beverage goods, consumer products and retail items enjoyed the very same boosts in ad performance that tech gadgets did. People were more likely to click on a food and beverage ad when it was displayed near content about Oculus Rift or Apple Pay, over something about Lay’s new Wasabi Ginger flavor or David Guetta’s MUMMS champagne partnership. While it may seem counter-intuitive, technology brings eyeballs to even the most unrelated campaigns.

So, we know that jumping on technology topics yields the greatest value for an ad campaign. But, that’s still a vague starting point, with “technology” spanning anything and everything from mobile devices to gaming, to content streaming and social media. The natural next question is exactly which tech trends brands should target, which ones they should avoid.

Ironically, the least effective trends were those that many likely assumed would have had the greatest impact last quarter. For example, Apple’s iPhone 6 release was arguably the largest tech event of Q3, making it a desirable trend to target ads around. Yet, it performed only slightly above average. iPhone 6 trends performed only 13 percent better than aggregate Android phone trends, likely at a much higher per-click price point. Plus, specific brands like Nokia and HTC saw their trends performing two to three times better than Apple iPhone trends. Sure, you could argue that these brands were also active in the news during Q3, but they certainly didn’t spark as much discussion as the iPhone 6 did. 

Evidently, hype doesn’t necessarily mean advertising success.

On the flip side, pulling ahead of the pack and showing the greatest promise for success were personal devices, accounting for 30 percent of real-time engagements. Narrowing it down even further, wearables were the top-performing device category overall, more than 200 percent more effective than industry averages.

Related: As Wearables Get Hot, These 6 Industries Are Poised to Capitalize

No one could have guessed that wearables would give advertisers the biggest bang for their buck, but perhaps even more surprising was the number-one tech trend, which was also the top trend overall. No ads performed better than those that were placed alongside the launch of LG’s G Watch R, enjoying a whopping 925 percent increase in ad engagement. Go figure!

Clearly, the most impactful trends are not always obvious to advertisers. Plenty of other unpredictable stories topped the list for top trends in Q3: Apple’s reaction to the iCloud Breach, pre-orders of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and J.J. Abram's tweets about the Millennium Falcon for Star Wars Episode VII, to name a few. Like the tip of an iceberg, a lot of these stories probably went unnoticed to the average consumer, though underneath it all, lay massive potential.

There is a natural inclination to target ads around major, eyeball-grabbing happenings, especially those that can be planned for, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. But, taking a presumptive approach to advertising often means missed opportunities. The top performing trends might not be what the marketing team expects, but the fact is that unpredictable micro-trends can, and often do, have a significantly greater impact. That means better media performance and better ROI on campaigns.

Ad inventory, campaign budgets, and demographic analysis are all crucial to any ad campaign, but without the ability to pinpoint direct routes to audience engagement, they can only get you so far. By following trends and conversations happening in real-time, advertisers can better navigate these unpredictable but extremely valuable routes to more direct audience engagement.

Related: 3 Dominant Ad-Tech Companies Share the Secrets of Their Success