How Do You Know You Just Wasted $4.5 Million on a Super Bowl Ad

is super bowl advertising worth it
While most of you watched the Super Bowl last night, I was tracking the game of Facebook (my Twitter feed just moved too fast) – mostly for mentions of Super Bowl ads. And, if Super Bowl advertising success mapped to mentions on Facebook, Nationwide won, hands down.

Now, you might ask why an ad that created so much discomfort was my pick for the winning Super Bowl ad, it’s because folks mentioned the ad so much. It doesn’t really matter that folks didn’t like the ad or thought it was a real “downer”, they talked about it. And, 2 days from now, the association between Nationwide and a dead kid will fade, leaving only the memory of having seen Nationwide mentioned a lot by people you know and respect.

Question: What is success for a Super Bowl Ad?

This is really the $54 Million question — how do we define success of any ad — a Super Bowl ad, in this example?

By certain metrics, a Super Bowl ad, even at $4.5 million, is a deal. For that $4.5 million, you get over 100 million viewers (or 200 million eyeballs). Certainly, that number doesn’t approach the 1.25 billion users on Facebook, which begs the question of why advertisers don’t just scrap their Super Bowl ad in favor of spending $4.5 million on promoted posts on Facebook (and I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg lies awake at night trying to figure out this conundrum).

Which brings us back to our initial question — how to define the success of a Super Bowl ad?

Super Bowl ad success

Obviously, the ultimate measure of success for a Super Bowl ad (or any ad) is whether it makes the cash register ring. And, some Super Bowl advertising hit a home run (sorry to mix metaphors) when it comes to ringing the cash register.

Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad capitalized on the book, 1984, by George Orwell and saved the brand from the debacle cause when John Scully (and the Apple board) thought running a technology company like a soft drink business (Scully was formerly at Pepsi) made sense.

Coke hit the ball out of the park with their commercial featuring “Mean” Joe Green during the Steelers heyday.

ROI of Super Bowl ads

But, overall, the ROI of a Super Bowl ad is a mixed bag with some winners and many losers. GoDaddy, for instance, produced the worst Super Bowl ad for several years running and their misstep this year (scrapping their planned commercial at the last-minute when faced with overwhelming criticism from animal rights groups led to a last-minute replacement that fell flat — again).

According to CNBC, perennial winners Budweiser and Coke pulled of wins again this year, with their cute ads we won’t forget any time soon. Of course, with the pressure both face from competition, this might not be enough to save the brands from their downward spiral (Coke faces pressure from waters and teas as health conscious consumers swap out high calorie drinks and Budweiser faces threats as the market falls in love with craft brews).

Yahoo Sports hated my choice of Nationwide as the winner because it was a downer. Others recognize what I did — that folks are talking about Nationwide specifically because the ad stood out and did it in a positive way. Time will tell which of us is right.

Remember, the goal of a Super Bowl ad is to make money, not friends. Just like the popular QB on your high school football team often traded his cleats for a hard hat and the geeky nerd ends up owning a multi-billion dollar company, it’s not popularity that gets rewarded in the long run, but skill. Putting all your marketing effort into creating a popular Super Bowl ad might fade from memory when it comes time to open your wallet while a more memorable ad moves the brand into your consideration set where it influences decisions far into the future.

The changing tone of Super Bowl ads

In the past, funny ads won the hearts of Super Bowl watchers and pundits. In yesterday’s game, advertisers focused on going straight to the hearts with ads full of positive (and negative) emotions.  Recent research suggests these emotional tugs pull at our collective wallets and storytelling reigns supreme as an advertising technique that gets us to buy.

Several Super Bowl ads worked on our hearts yesterday, especially Coke’s effort to highlight the devastating effects of digital bullying and the NFL’s commercial countering recent publicity about domestic violence.  Unilever (Dove) and Budweiser produced ads with less of a social message, but still hit an emotional cord with viewers.

Another change in Super Bowl advertising is social integration. For instance, the Budweiser ad had 42 million views before the kick-off of yesterday’s game.

Surprisingly, more folks watch the Super Bowl for the ads than the game. I remember when I first started teaching asking our A/V department to take my VHS of the game and edit out the game, leaving just the commercials. They thought I was insane. Now, 78% of respondents said they watch for the ads, not the game, according to USAToday.

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Ideation and Innovation

innovationInnovation can take many forms. Whether innovation involves creating a new consumer product or service, an innovative business model or your innovation is simply a new way of doing business, innovations fuel competitive advantage for your organization that helps you stand out to consumers. Innovation also helps build a stronger economy that makes things better for everyone.

But, where do those innovations come from? Occasionally, innovation comes from a moment of pure inspiration like the little light bulb above a character’s head in a comic strip. More likely, innovation comes from processes (and organizations) that foster ideation – that fuzzy front end where ideas form.

Generating ideas

To help generate more ideas, here are some brainstorming strategies from IDEO, a leader in innovation management:

1. Sharpen the focus.

Start with a well-honed statement of the problem at hand. Edgy is better than fuzzy. The best topic statements focus outward on a specific customer need or service enhancement rather than inward on some organizational goal.

2. Write playful rules.

Ideo’s primary brainstorming rules are simple: “Defer judgment” and “One conversation at a time.” The firm believes in its rules so strongly that they’re stenciled in 8-inch letters on conference-room walls. “If I’m the facilitator and somebody starts a critique or people start talking, I can enforce the rules without making it feel personal,” Kelley says. Other rules include, “Go for quantity,” “Be visual,” and “Encourage wild ideas.”

3. Number your ideas.

“This rule seems counterintuitive — the opposite of creativity,” Kelley says. “But numbered lists create goals to motivate participants. You can say, ‘Let’s try to get to 100 ideas.’ Also, lists provide a reference point if you want to jump back and forth between ideas.”

4. Build and jump.

Most brainstorming sessions follow a power curve: They start out slowly, build to a crescendo, and then start to plateau. The best facilitators nurture the conversation in its early stages, step out-of-the-way as the ideas start to flow, and then jump in again when energy starts to peter out.

“We go for two things in a brainstorm: fluency and flexibility,” Kelley says. “Fluency is a very rapid flow of ideas, so there’s never more than a moment of silence. Flexibility is approaching the same idea from different viewpoints.”

5. Make the space remember.

Good facilitators should also write ideas down on an accessible surface. Ideo used to hold its brainstorms in rooms wallpapered with whiteboards or butcher paper. Lately, however, the group has started using easel-sized Post-it notes. “When the facilitator tries to pull together all the ideas after the session,” Kelley says, “she can stack up nice, tidy rectangular things instead of spreading butcher paper all the way down the hall.”

Courtesy of Fast Company

 Translating IDEO

The core of IDEO innovation lies in its group brainstorming sessions operated in a non-threatening way that encourages innovative ideas.  A key element implicit in IDEO is the composition of the group — which should include positive people with various backgrounds.  To avoid group-think, brainstorming sessions should vary participants.

But, what if you’re not working for a large organization?  Here are some suggestions for innovation and ideation in smaller organizations:

  1. Join or form a group of other folks interested in your industry to share ideas.  A document should outline ownership of ideas so you avoid the problem Mark Zuckerberg had with others claiming ownership of Facebook.
  2. Crowdsource innovations from customers or other interested consumers.  Some of the best ideas come from those who will use the innovation. For instance, the minivan is based on a concept derived directly from consumers’ reflections of transportation needs.
  3. Slow down and smell the roses.  OK, they don’t have to be roses, but you should set aside time from your busy day for playful reflection.  Sure, it’s important to be very strategic, but a certain playfulness (and daydreaming) promotes innovation.
  4. Take a class.  Not something related to your work (although I strongly encourage lifelong learning), but something fun.  Maybe a photography class or a cooking class.  Travel and experience different cultures.  Just keep your mind open to see things from a new perspective.
  5. Don’t be afraid to share ideas.  Despite notions that the idea is the key to innovation, it’s often the commercialization that’s the biggest hurdle, not idea generation.  Look at Xerox.  They developed the interface Steve Jobs later incorporated into Apple computers — the graphical interface — but were never able to make any money from it.
  6. By the same token, be careful who you discuss innovative ideas with.  Not because they might steal them, but because they can be negative about any idea and discourage you from pursuing something remarkable.  Accountants and attorneys (except for patent attorneys) tend to be very risk averse, so avoid discussing ideas with them until you’ve vetted the idea with business people.

My own recommendations are:

  • to keep a notebook close at hand ALL THE TIME (or a small tape recorder).  Many folks keep one next to their bed as great ideas often come in the moment just before you go to sleep or immediately upon waking.
  • Read, listen, network – the more you’re exposed to news, gossip, or other bits of information, the more you’ll be tuned into what others are thinking.  I get my best ideas from All Things Considered on NPR as I’m fighting traffic home every evening.  The key here is to get out of your comfort zone.
  • There’s no such thing as a bad idea.  People try to begin analysis during a brainstorming session.  This is deadly to the creative process.  All ideas should be considered.  The next step is the point where analysis comes in.

Hausman and Associates

Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name.  We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our innovative virtual agency concept.  We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.


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Facebook IPO : Should You Buy?

facebook logoThe Facebook IPO (Initial Public Offering) today generated more buzz than any IPO I can remember.  Of course, the Facebook IPO is the LARGEST tech IPO in history and the 3rd largest IPO in the history of NASDAQ.  At the asking price of $38, the Facebook IPO creates a value for Facebook of over $100 BILLION.

So, should you buy a few shares?    GOOD QUESTION!

Why You Should Buy Shares during Facebook’s IPO

I heard an analogy today on Good Morning America.  If you bought Apple stock on the day of its IPO, that share you bought for $22 would be worth $44,000 today — an amazing increase in share value.  This begs the question: Is Facebook the New Apple (or the new Google, which is where its aspirations appear to be headed).

Facebook employees believe you should buy their IPO stock.  Last night they celebrated with an all-night hack.

The market and initial investors are certainly excited about the Facebook IPO.  The media is in a frenzy because they know many of Facebook’s nearly 1 billion users are concerned about what the Facebook IPO means for user experience on their beloved social network.  So, the media understands news about the Facebook IPO appeals to a much broader audience than almost any other IPO in history.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Stock in Facebook’s IPO

First, even if you wanted stock today, it’s unlikely you could buy any.  IPOs normally sell most or all of the available stock to major investors and institutional investors (like pension and mutual funds) leaving little to reach smaller investors.  Initial investors bet the stock price will rise sharply after the IPO, allowing them to cash out with a large profit in just a few days.  Personally, I think this is a major flaw in the investment system that allows insiders to make massive profits denied to individual investors.

But, the bigger question is: SHOULD you buy Facebook stock?

The answer to that is unclear.  Reports suggest even Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder and CEO) was concerned about the stock and pushed off the Facebook IPO as long as possible.  Although, his fears are likely fueled by concerns of how investors might impinge on his efforts to control Facebook.

A bigger concern is the long-term viability of Facebook.  A recent survey reported on Mashable, more than half of Americans think Facebook will go the way of Myspace.  While it may be hard to see how a social media behemoth like Facebook could fade that far, especially with nearly 1 billion users, it’s feasible.  I’m sure no one could have predicted events that eventually befell Myspace.

Advertising ineffectiveness is more likely a stumbling block for the long-term survival of Facebook.  The valuation of Facebook based on the IPO is a 50X multiple of earnings for last year, which is astounding.  This multiple means investors expect astronomical growth in Facebook revenues in the near future — a scenario that looks increasingly unlikely as giant advertisers, like General Motors, stop their Facebook ads, citing the ineffectiveness of the ads.  While the new “LIKES” generated by Facebook ads are seductive, translating these likes into ROI is problematic for many firms.

  So, what do you plan to do about the Facebook IPO?

Please let me know.  Or, go on my Facebook page and answer the question there.

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Facebook Business Marketing: Video Calls on Skype

Today, Facebook announced some changes creating more things to do within Facebook; attempting to gain a bigger share of users’ online activity rather than more users.  Probably the worst kept secret announced today is that Facebook will incorporate video calls on Skype into the Facebook platform.  Other changes announced include an enhanced interface for group chat and ad hoc groups formed to help friends find things to do together.

Facebook’s announcement of video calls on Skype begins a season featuring announcements of new apps created at Facebook over the last 6 months.  Any change to the Facebook platform offers challenges and opportunities for businesses using Facebook to build a community and share their messages across the largest social platform worldwide — with over 750 million users.  A number Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, expects to reach over a billion soon.

Challenges and Opportunities For Businesses

Video calls on Skype within the Facebook platform offer some opportunities for businesses to create immediacy in their messages.  Now, viral YouTube videos, status updates, and pictures will spread even faster as friends call each other and share.  Currently, Facebook sharing is unpredictable as friends may miss updates appearing on their newsfeed as new updates replace old ones and some updates never appear on your newsfeed to reduce its noise and increase the relevance of your feed.  Video calls on Skype will also be easier through the Facebook application; allowing anyone to call another without downloading Skype.

A bigger change for businesses comes through the other announcement today — enhanced group chat and a new interface.  While this change didn’t draw as much attention and may not be a big deal for users, it has big potential for businesses, especially local businesses.  As this change rolls out, users can create ad hoc groups.  Let’s say your a restaurant and offer a 2 for 1 special (or you’re a group buying site like Living Social).  Well, I may not be particularly interested in your offer because I’m just 1 person.  But, once I can create an ad hoc group, I can select friends and start a group chat to get others interested in the offer.  Now, your restaurant has a chance of attracting people through interest in the coupon and because friends are talking you up (assuming you have a decent reputation — without that, this can turn bad pretty fast).

I work with a number of arts organizations and ad hoc groups could be a god send.  Often women want to see a play or concert or attend another arts function, but their husbands, boyfriends, significant others, don’t.  Now, when an arts organization sends information about a performance or event, I set up an ad hoc group to see who else wants to go with me.  If organizations harness the power of ad hoc groups, they will see significant increases in ticket sales.


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Value of Social Media and Listening Posts – Ask a Marketing Expert

Question 1 – What is the Value of Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, and Linkedin Connections?

Here’s another question that came in from my blog — What is the VALUE of a fan, follower, connection, etc to an organization? How do you assess this value? How can you measure the ROI of engagement, brand sentiment and other squishy outcomes of social media marketing?

Answer 1 – Barry McLawhorn

Mark Zuckerberg Just Doesn’t Get It! (…or, worse yet, maybe Facebook just doesn’t care)

Zuckerberg just doesn’t get it! Facebook is our voice and our broadcast network not his.

The only reason Facebook has 500,000,000 users is because the members of Facebook (i.e., free contenet creators and “broadcasters”) use Facebookas a conduit to share, connect and discover what THEY want.

The more Zuckerberg tries to control the behavior and the variety of choices that the users of Facebook have for freedom of expression, then, the less valuable the conduit becomes and the more risk the Facebook brand incurs.
Mark Zuckerberg Just Doesn’t Get It! (…or, worse yet, maybe Facebook just doesn’t care)

On a scale of 1 -10:

How annoying do you find the Facebook ads at the top of your wall?

How much of an invasion of your privacy do you find Facebook’s new practice of displaying very specific data at the top of your page?

How much of an identity theft risk do you feel that displaying this personal information causes?

How can Facebook monetize their visitors, while not interferring and annoying us?

Barry C. McLawhorn
BedRock Viral Marketing & Associates

Answer 2 – Cherie Tripp LeJeune

I rarely pay attention, what I hate are all the ads that are the lead in’s on You Tube.

Answer 3 – Dr. Angela Hausman

I find myself using RockMelt a lot for social network interaction because it eliminates the ads from before and in the middle of Facebook pages. It still has the ads on the sides. However, with RockMelt, I can also see updates to Facebook without going to the Facebook site, in which case I eliminate seeing Facebook ads altogether. This is likely to be the face of Facebook in the future, meaning companies will get no value from doing Facebook ads. You can see more about how to use Facebook more effectively in my recent blog post at:

Question 2 – Importance of Listening Post

‘m working on a presentation for AMA -DC on listening posts. Do you have a listening post? How important is the listening post to your firm? What software are you using to listen? How is your firm using its listening post? How effective is your listening post? What changes do you plan in the coming year regarding listening?

Answer 1 – Cherie Tripp LeJeune

Smart donors should be assessing the social media of the nonprofits soliciting them before they give. The dialog and exchanges reflect the energy that exists in an organization, which is very, very important. On the flip side need to make sure that it is not all “bla, bla, bla.”.This also applies to listening posts by organizations for it is delivers more measured results that can be used pursuing donors.

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