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Apple's ads failing, says firm that called Surface ads effective

Ace Metrix, a company that likes to think it knows how to measure TV ad effectiveness, says Apple's new ads are not a success with consumers.

Are the votes in?
Apple/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Once you put a number on something, that's it, isn't it?

Your height, your shoe size, your IQ, they all define you.

Some companies like to put a number on ads. Why wallow in thinking about the emotional impact of an ad, when you can just give it a number -- pass or fail?

I was moved to utter stasis, therefore, when Bloomberg offered me the pulsating news that Apple's latest ad -- the one introducing the line "Designed by Apple in California" was a mere 489.

A 489 is about the level of, oh, a Jay Leno joke or an Ann Taylor dress. Yes, the industry average is 542. So this ad is dancing topless in the Mediocrity Lounge. (Other recent Apple ads are scoring at 560 and 537, so they're not exactly Ginger Rogers either.)

As I shed a large, lugubrious tear for Cupertino, I suddenly remembered where I'd heard about Ace Metrix before.

This is the company that declared Microsoft's original Surface ads demolished Apple's workin terms of effectiveness.

Yes, that snappy, unforgettable opus with teenagers in little skirts, cavorting with Surfaces, scored a 674.

The only odd lack of correlation was between this score and the numbers recorded by Microsoft's sales department.

I am sure that Ace Metrix has wonderful metrics. After all, it surveys "at least" 500 people before raising its scorecard like Bruno Tonioli on "Dancing With The Stars."

Yet I fear that, as with every survey ever created, there are tiny snags, considerable inefficiencies.

Still, it doesn't mean that -- given the fine numerical law of averages -- Ace Metrix might not have lucked out on some truths here.

It claims its respondents moan that the new ad is both too sad and too long.

I don't have that problem. What's troubling is Apple's lurching into talking about itself, in rather labored terms.

Even when it created the "Here's To The Crazy Ones" ad, it never talked of itself. It simply added its logo to a sentiment.

This time, we hear of "the experience of a product." We hear about a product: "Does it deserve to exist?", as we see a tourist ignoring the locals because he's too busy playing with his iPad.

There's a lot of "we" in the voiceover.

I'd like to tell you a secret: this ad was originally conceived without all the we-ing. The voiceover was added at a later stage.

That is a pity.