Now that football season is in full swing, it’s getting to be decision time for some brands. There is no debating the popularity of the Super Bowl. It’s more than just a football game held on the first Sunday in February each year, it’s an event. The live audience that watches the game is unmatched by any other TV program.
And it’s not just the game anymore that gets people to watch. Millions also look forward to the ads and the halftime show. It’s one of the few instances in programming when people are genuinely paying attention to the advertising.
As a result, the network that broadcasts the game charges the highest 30-second ad rates for any show on TV. The cost for a 30-second spot during last season’s title game between New England and Atlanta was $5.02 million, an all-time high.
For brands with widespread name recognition, huge advertising budgets, and products that are an ideal match to the male-heavy demographic, the decision to advertise can be a no-brainer. Beer-makers, auto manufacturers, and movie studios heavily promote their products during the game in order take advantage of the massive viewership that allows them to market to hundreds of millions of viewers.
But what about small- and mid-cap companies with limited marketing budgets? Is it worth betting $5 million for 30 seconds of exposure to an audience that, while huge, might not be your key target demographic? And that $5 million is likely just the start. According to a report from CNBC.com, the true cost of the ad could be closer to $30 million when you factor in the ad’s production, PR, and social-media promotion, not to mention what it might take to land that A-list celebrity endorser.
There are arguments for both sides. According to a 2014 Super Bowl Ad effectiveness study done by BrandAds, 83% of brands that advertised during the game positively influenced a consumer’s likelihood to purchase their products or services. The halftime show performance by Lady Gaga during Super Bowl LI lifted her music sales by 1000% in the aftermath of the game, according to Billboard.com.
In a recent research paper we published in partnership with Turner and Horizon Media, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of TV Advertising in the Modern Media Landscape”, our analysis found that despite the huge swing toward digital ads, TV still had the largest impact in terms of audience reach, sales lift and ROI.
By contrast, a Fortune article, cited a survey that estimates 80% of the game’s commercials don’t boost sales or purchase intent, and that 87% of viewers are solely watching for entertainment purposes with only 6% interested in new brands, products or services.
So what’s an advertiser to do? In the digital age, a 30-second spot during the game is just the first place to advertise. It would also be pushed through your social channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter while you leverage your CRM database for an email campaign. But what if you wanted to go beyond your first-party data and target a specific consumer segment?
This is where Neustar’s advanced marketing analytics can play a significant role in your decision-making. Our AdAdvisor solution allows you find the exact audience segment you’re looking to target. Our marketing mix modeling (MMM) lets you plan with better precision and take advantage of the media channel that has the best chance of succeeding. And with the multi-touch attribution (MTA) solution, you can more effectively track the effectiveness of each channel along the customer journey. Our solutions are grounded in the Neustar OneID® system that connects people, places and things with trusted identity so you can confidently reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.
When your marketing investment is worth millions, you have to be sure you’re getting a solid return on that investment. Neustar gives you the ability to make better decisions with an intelligent strategy backed with the strongest, most trusted identity resolution in the industry. And to ensure you have cohesion within your organization, check out our GameDay Playbook which outlines best practices for setting expectations between Marketing and Finance while plotting out your strategy.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, the big game’s commercial breaks are now get nearly as much pre-game hype as the event itself.
That’s what happens when advertisers must spend an average of $5 million merely to secure a 30-second commercial slot. And, it’s true that any one of the many companies shelling out big bucks to advertise during Super Bowl LI could come away with an ad that keeps viewers buzzing long after the game airs on Feb. 5. But advertisers seeking brand visibility and goodwill on the nation’s largest stage are also risking major disappointment if their very expensive ad falls flat with viewers amid the sea of big-budget commercials.
Hoping to get the most bang for their Super Bowl buck, companies are increasingly spending additional money on all-out marketing blitzes that are meant to hype their ads in the weeks leading up to the big game. (Look here for Fortune‘s running list of Super Bowl ads that have premiered online already.) In fact, one marketing executive told The New York Times that it’s common for advertisers to spend an additional 25% or more of the cost of their commercial slot just on promoting the ad in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
One of the ad campaigns that’s already getting quite a bit of buzz is one from Snickers, with the candy bar brand bringing on Star Wars actor Adam Driver for what it promises will be the first-ever commercial to air live during the Super Bowl. The Mars-owned brand even released a handful of teaser ads, including supposed casting call videos featuring a horse, and Snickers said it will air a 36-hour livestream from the commercial set leading up to the big game.
According to the Times, Mary Scott, a president at global marketing agency United Entertainment Group, advises her clients to spend at least 25% of the cost of their commercial slot on marketing the ad itself. As we’ve seen in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, those marketing efforts can include extensive social media campaigns, rollouts of short teaser versions of the big game commercials, and events to announce new marketing campaigns. Google’s YouTube also encourages users to vote for their favorite Super Bowl ads (many of which are available before the game) each year with its YouTube AdBlitz.
Advertisers must also contend with the potentially high production costs of putting together a commercial that may be only a minute long, or less, but which often needs a big budget if it’s going to stand out. The average production cost for a Super Bowl ad in recent years was reportedly north of $1 million, as many glitzy ads employ major creative agencies and advertising houses, while some even enlist big-name Hollywood directors and actors. For example, the Academy Award-winning Coen brothers directed a 60-second ad for Mercedes-Benz that stars iconic Easy Rider actor Peter Fonda for this year’s Super Bowl.
This year’s ad blitz will come during an uncharacteristic 8% ratings drop for NFL games during this season. It’s possible that combination of slumping ratings and the exorbitant cost of just 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl could cause some advertisers to think twice about opening their wallets for the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is typically the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S. Last year, it drew nearly 112 million viewers, just shy of the record 115 million people who watched the game in 2015. That’s a huge platform for advertisers to pitch beer, luxury cars, and many more shiny products.