The top 5 wireless ads: AT&T and T-Mobile reign as U.S. Cellular breaks out

FierceWireless has partnered with TV advertising measurement firm to bring you a monthly snapshot of the wireless industry's advertising spending and digital engagement. The results below are for the top five most-engaging brands in the wireless industry over the last 30 days.


AT&T and T-Mobile far surpassed their competition in digital engagement over the past 30 days. Together, the 2 brands accounted for more than 93.6 percent of the Industry's digital response. Verizon, although its ad spending was estimated to be at similar levels to T-Mobile, garnered less than 3 percent of the month's digital attention in the sector. U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS each accounted for less than 1 percent of Industry digital engagement.

Check out how these figures compare with September, November, and February.

Here are the top 5 ads for March in terms of total spending:

1. AT&T took a bold approach, spending an estimated $59.7 million on 17 ads that ran 12,138 times. Although the brand spent the most on "BOGO: Hang Out," it was the ad "Siri" that made the most noise.

"Sin" accounted for more than 39 percent of the brand's digital engagement, and almost 35 percent of the Industry's. All told, "Sin" sells, driving more than 253,000 social actions, 25,000 online views, and over 1,300 searches. AT&T earned more than 1.9 million online views, 398,000 social actions and nearly 14,000 searches over the last 30 days.

2. T-Mobile is still riding the appeal of its Super Bowl 50 ads, with more than 90 percent of its digital response the past 30 days coming from the popular Steve Harvey "Drop the Balls" ad, and the hugely social "Restricted Bling" spot featuring Drake in a riff on his hit, "Hotline Bling."

"Drop the Balls" accounted for nearly three times the engagement of "Restricted Bling." Combined, the pair of spots generated 2.3 million online views, 8,600 social actions and 2,700 searches, all of that with an estimated $3.2 million spent on 565 airings.

In total, T-Mobile spent an estimated $37.3 million running TV ads in the period, generating 3.4 million online views, 13,000 social actions and 17,790 searches through 1.6 billion impressions on TV.

3. Verizon's story was somewhat similar, if less successful, to T-Mobile's: it had a wide breadth of commercials and airings, whose engagement was driven mainly by two ads. The provider ran eight different spots over the period, but nearly 90 percent of its digital response came from two "A Better Network as Explained by…" ads, "Another Really Big Win" and "Colorful Balls."

The top earner, "A Better Network as Explained by Another Really Big Win," generated more than 1.4 billion impressions on TV through 5,000 airings, which translated to 839,000 online views, 591 social actions and nearly 7,000 searches.

4. U.S. Cellular made a surprise appearance on the chart this round, propelled by the success of an ad featuring NBA star Russell Westbrook. Though the company only ran this ad, which aired just 17 times during this period, "The Many Sides of Russell" was seen more than 6 million times. It generated nearly 700,000 online views and more than 3,000 searches for U.S. Cellular. This is the only ad the company has run thus far in 2016.

5. MetroPCS rounds out the top five this month, generating 740,000 online views, 400 social actions and nearly 5,500 searches on an estimated $19.5 million spend. The company's most popular ad, "Llamadas y textos sin limites," a Spanish version of their "Breakdance" ad, was seen more than 1.6 billion times in the past 30 days.

ISpot's data does not include co-promotions or local market data. Click here for more on's methodology.

The company's software leverages proprietary audio and video fingerprinting algorithms to automatically identify and extract TV commercials, movie trailers and show promos.  

The company tracks hundreds of millions of explicit interactions with TV ads across roughly 100 million unique consumersThese interactions include video plays, searches and social activity. The company also analyzes online views across YouTube and, searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo! and social activity on Facebook (including Facebook private views) and Twitter.

The company tags over 40 different dimensions of metadata, including brand, agency, actors, products, songs, moods, URLs and other pertinent data, to create its results.

The top 5 wireless ads: AT&T and T-Mobile reign as U.S. Cellular breaks out