Verizon's ATandT, iPhone Bashing Is Working, Says Study

New Verizon advertisements promote the Motorola Droid smartphone by pointing out the iPhone's weak spots, as well as tout Verizon's coverage map as superior to AT&T's. According to new consumer perception surveys, the public is believing both Verizon claims.

Verizon's Apple- and AT&T-bashing advertisements appear to be swaying public opinion, at least for now.

According to YouGov's BrandIndex, which measures consumers' brand perceptions on a daily basis, attitudes toward Verizon Wireless and AT&T have shifted since Verizon launched its Motorola Droid campaign on Oct. 19.

BrandIndex scores can range from 100 to -100, and on Oct. 19, 18- to 34-year-olds were asked, "Would you recommend the brand to a friend?" Verizon received a rating of 8.3, while AT&T received a 1.4. A few days later, the carriers were approximately tied around a rating of 10, but from there, customer ratings of Verizon began to soar, while those for AT&T dropped.

Around Nov. 5, AT&T's overall rating was approximately -8, while Verizon hovered near 28. BrandIndex says it interviews 5,000 people each day, and that its margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent.

"We measure a bunch of different metrics, and one is buzz. It really tracks ad campaign activity," Ted Marzilli, managing director of BrandIndex, told eWEEK. Marzilli said measures of buzz tend to move around quite a bit.

"What's more surprising is to see things like satisfaction and quality move as well," Marzilli continued. "Those tend to move more slowly. When you see things like quality [ratings] go up or down, those tend to have staying power."

Verizon's Oct. 19 ad touted the Motorola Droid as everything the iPhone isn't - a device with a physical keyboard, with a flash camera, that can run several applications at once and that can be customized with widgets.

Later ads have taken shots at AT&T's 3G network by comparing its coverage areas to Verizon's. A new holiday-timed ad shows the iPhone arriving at the Island of Misfit Toys, where the other toys discover that it's a good fit since - although it can browse the Web and download apps - its barely there coverage map renders its other features moot, the ad implies.

AT&T has since filed a suit against Verizon, claiming that the coverage maps are misleading.

According to BrandIndex numbers, AT&T has reason to be upset, as the ads are swaying public opinion.

"The challenge for AT&T is that the commercials have already aired, and they've made an impact," said Marzilli. "I don't know what AT&T is going to get out of this lawsuit, except to get Verizon to pull the ads. ... That may at least be their immediate goal."

Marzilli added that BrandIndex also measures Attention, which he describes as how tuned-in consumers are to what's going on with a company in the last two weeks. Verizon and AT&T, both heavy advertisers, so garner a lot of attention, he said.

"This is an interesting period, because with the Droid, Verizon is going head to head against AT&T. And when we see scores start to really diverge, it shows these head-on ads can be quite effective," Marzilli said. "It'll be interesting to see how AT&T, or Apple, addresses this in the coming weeks."