As you can see from the chart above, the average cost for a 30-second Super Bowl Ad grows astronomically every year –reaching $% Million for the Super Bowl last month. Of course, that buys you an audience of over 114 million — that’s 228 eyeballs focused on your brand.
While a Super Bowl ad offers tremendous reach that’s unparalleled by any other US offering, does that money translate into ROI (return on investment) or is it a waste?
Does your Super Bowl ad pay off?
Some argue that it doesn’t for most brands. Here’s what Adlucent found when it looked at several recent Super Bowls:
However, do they boost the bottom line? One ad research firm estimates that 80% of Super Bowl commercials do not boost sales or purchase intent. A survey by marketing analytics agency Adlucent shows that 87% of viewers who watch Super Bowl ads are doing so solely for entertainment or social purposes, and only 6% watch to discover new brands, products, or services. Less than 1% watch to influence any kind of purchasing.
So, why do brands plunk down their hard-earned money when the return is dismal? Well, the answer lies in their goal and not all brands buy a Super Bowl ad with the notion that it’ll ring the corporate coffers. Some acknowledge that it’s worth the cost to dump a ton of consumers into the top of the conversion funnel – create massive awareness, then build on that awareness over time to enhance conversion.
Meanwhile, other advertisers, who consistently purchase ads on the big game, do so more for parity versus the competition, than any hope of garnering ROI from their investment. [source] They’re afraid that, if they don’t match competitors’ Super Bowl ads, they’ll lose ground. For them, the investment is worth it not in terms of improving ROI, but maintaining it.
A Super Bowl ad and engagement
Some brands figure their Super Bowl ad will spark a huge conversation on social media, that consumers will watch it multiple times on social platforms like YouTube and Facebook, where they’ll share it until the ad goes viral. But, don’t count on it. Here’s what Brandwatch found after last year’s Super Bowl:
Some brands, like Skittles, won the lottery and garnered a lot of amplification while others, like Fiat really took it in the chin — spending a whopping $21,093 per mention. The Super Bowl ad might work with other elements of your campaign, but it’s not gonna do all the heavy lifting by itself.
Single engagement or even a single commercial is rarely enough to change perceptions about an established brand. While there are exceptions, typically consumers who are already familiar with a brand require multiple exposures to a brand’s message, ideally across multiple media avenues and touch points, to change their mind—or their intended behavior—toward that brand. [source]
A savvy marketer uses his/ her Super Bowl ad as a step in the building block leading to increased sales, rather than a single marketing effort. According to an analyst at Forrester Research, it’s these savvy marketers who reap the benefits from the huge outlay for the Super Bowl:
It’s likely that one or two marketers will engage via social by sparking a hot, real-time conversation. But that’s not the same as seeing true marketing results. The real trophy for this Super Bowl will go to behind-the-scenes marketers who orchestrate paced, highly targeted campaigns that maximize the audience potential per channel, while simultaneously working towards a common business goal.
Making your Super Bowl ad work for you
Gary Vaynerchuk, social guru extraordinaire, recognizes the value potential from a Super Bowl ad, value that’s being squandered by folks ignoring their fiduciary duty to your brand and, instead, using the ads as a means to serve their own ends.
I believe the No. 1 underpriced source of attention today is the Super Bowl, because every single person watches the ads, whether it’s during the game or on YouTube the week before. The problem with the current execution of Super Bowl ads is that the creative has such a stake in getting agencies new clients that we’re not making the kind of work that takes advantage of the attention of all of America. [source]
The big question is how to make your Super Bowl ads (or any other kind of advertising) work for you and the answer is complicated.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting the most return from your advertising:
- Make sure the rest of your business is set to capitalize on advertising.
- No amount of advertising works without having a good product, good customer service, good team, etc. See the image to combine elements that maximize consumer value.
- Create a strategy based on a thorough examination of the internal and external environments.
- Set goals for your ads as a starting point in your planning
- Ad agencies like to use squishy goals like recall, which, often, don’t translate into managerial goals.
- Develop goals for both top of funnel (awareness) and bottom of funnel (conversion).
- Develop goals for managerial important aspects of engagement, such as likes, shares, comments which amplify your message.
- Ensure creative meets those goals
- Cute kittens or scantily clad women earn high marks for recall, but they might not do much for your brand. Challenge your agency to do creative that’s both memorable and supports brand positioning. The iconic Apple Super Bowl ad from 1984 succeeded not only because it was memorable, but because it emphasized the positioning critical for Mac’s success.
- Create ads with your target market (personas) in mind. Your ads should reach those folks where they live and feel. It doesn’t matter about the rest, make your target market feel something.
- Create a campaign around your ad
- Don’t spend your entire budget on the ad. You need to create an entire campaign building up to your ad (on both social and traditional media) so your target is anticipating something special from you. Release your ad beforehand to influencers and traditional PR outlets.
- Save some money to follow up on your big ad. Engage folks who mention your ad. Continue sending it out to influencers and the media to keep the momentum going.
- Monitor, measure, and tweak for next year
- How did your ad perform based on the goals you established in the first step.
- Take what worked (and what didn’t) and start working on next year’s advertising.
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