In case you missed, forgot, or haven’t seen MTV since Jersey Shore first aired over 10 years ago (am I aging myself?), the VMAs were August 20th. And while you might be wondering, “What does Jennifer Lopez have to do with anything?” Sadly, not much, because what caught our attention doesn’t have to do with any of the performances, but rather the ads that aired between them.

If you watched the VMAs, it was easy to see who the big spenders were. Taco Bell, Cover Girl, Verizon, and Pepsi, among others, all fought for a chance to appeal to the VMA’s target audience, 12-34 year-olds. Nielsen reported that just over 9.8 million viewers tuned in for the VMAs this year and brands tried to make the most of their time with this group. To prepare for the “Millennial Super Bowl” (as MTV referred to it) brands came out in full swing, trying many things to appeal to viewers. Here are a few advertising trends we noticed throughout the night:

Long-form Advertising
Through the years, we’ve seen more and more brands produce longer content as a way to engage viewers. Long-form advertising can be a highly engaging and powerful tool for brands, and while this isn’t a relatively new idea, it’s great to see brands utilizing this method. During the VMAs, Olay aired a 2-minute musical inspired ad to promote their Daily Facial cloths. Love it or hate it, viewers went to twitter to voice their opinions of it. Time will tell how or if it will impact sales for Olay, but it certainly got people talking which is often considered a win in this day and age.


Targeted Messaging
One of the most prominent trends during the VMAs was highly targeted advertising. Contextually, these ads were different from things you would encounter on other networks and on other nights of the year. Ads tried to be interactive and in the moment. Taco Bell tailored ads to incorporate the night’s big winners and Amazon Alexa allowed viewers to vote during the show simply by saying “Alexa, vote for the VMAs.” The VMAs were comprised of ads and experiences geared toward 12-34 year-olds, and while broad mass market advertising has a time and a place, it definitely wasn’t in attendance at the VMAs.

Messaging wasn’t only for TV that night. Brands prepared content and experiences for viewers that ranged from brand sponsored pre-show livestreams, Twitter campaigns, and full force Snapchat plans of attack. Twitter reported that this year’s VMAs were the most-tweeted non-sports program with 2.2 million people sending 21.4 million tweets in the U.S. alone.

If there’s anything to take away from this year’s VMAs, it’s to develop creative that stays true to your brand, but have fun along the way.

Abby Asani is a Senior Research Analyst at Ameritest and may or may not be a former Jersey Shore Fanatic.