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Microsoft's "I'm a PC" spot having little web impact vs. Apple ads

In spite of Microsoft spending $300 million on a concerted effort to get itself back into a positive public mindset, ads most directly targeting Apple are failing to resonate with web viewers and may have already been thwarted by the Mac maker's response.

The series of "I'm a PC" ads, which began airing in mid-September, have seen just 2 million viral views over their first four weeks on the Internet, according to research group Visible Measures.

While not insignificant, the number is dwarfed by those for the company's two Gates and Seinfeld ads: the deliberately eccentric videos have generated more than 6 million views in their history and have also had staying power that wasn't present for the newest commercial.

"I'm a PC" is estimated to have generated approximately half as many views in its first week and a half online and was down to 50,000 views per day just a few days later at the two-week mark, or a fraction of the 700,000 daily views Gates and Seinfeld were managing two weeks after their series launch.

That's a serious problem, according to the analysts: the "I'm a PC" spots, which softly criticize Apple's rendition of the PC as a trouble-ridden stereotype, are meant to be the core of Microsoft's ad campaign. A poor viral reception means web visitors aren't spreading and discussing the ads nearly as often as the Seinfeld pieces, which were reportedly intended as abstract teasers.

Microsoft view counts vs. Apple

More worrying for Microsoft might be Apple's response ads, which tweak the software developer for allegedly spending more money on marketing its brand than fixing problems commonly associated with Windows Vista. The three Apple segments' first week of collective views generated a modest 70 percent of the viral views managed by the "I'm a PC" ad, but were also placed on twice as many websites overall — 140 versus 70 — and promised greater exposure than Microsoft's promos.

Neither of these most recent campaigns have had enough clout to outweigh the popularity of the Seinfeld ads, but the success of Apple's retort is said to demonstrate the relative commitment fans have to spreading the company's message on Macs. It also suggests to the research group that Microsoft may have inadvertently quieted the fervor that was circulating its ads and might not regain that spark until Seinfeld's commercials return.