Inflation is evident in our daily lives, from the cost of a cup of coffee to the asking price for the house down the block. However, there may be no better example of inflation than the escalating cost of Super Bowl ads.
Look at this five-year comparison of the average cost to run a 30-second spot (and this doesn’t include production costs):
2011: $3 million
2012: $3.5 million
2013: $3.8 million
2014: $4 million
2015: $4.5 million
That’s a lot of money to plunk down for a single 30-second spot. And that’s why the folks at Newcastle Brown Ale have, for the second year in a row, tried their best to be a player, so to speak. They have thumbed their collective nose at the powers that be. Last year, Newcastle’s entire media budget was equal to about half the cost of a 30-second spot, so the brand launched the “If We Made It” campaign (Adweek’s choice for the No. 1 ad campaign of 2014). The campaign was just that: If Newcastle had made a Super Bowl ad, how epic it would have been.
This year, the brewer created a fake Doritos ad, its tongue-in-cheek attempt to enter Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest so that it could get on the Super Bowl for free.
So, if you’re still considering forking over the cash for 30 seconds of fame, you’ve got to ask yourself the following questions:
1. How will I quantify ROI from this campaign?
According to industry estimates, a Super Bowl ad generates an ROI 250 times greater than that of an average TV ad. So compare the $4.5 million price tag of a Super Bowl ad to the $627,300 average cost of a :30 TV spot. You do the math.
Sometimes, however, running a Super Bowl ad is more about sending a message to your competitors than about engaging your audience. SodaStream first advertised in the big game in 2013. “It’s really a statement that we are playing serious,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum told Adweek.
2. What is the goal of this ad? Is it brand awareness? Lead generation? Sales?
Think about it. Of all the memorable ads from previous Super Bowl matchups, do you remember which brands they represented? Or do you simply recall the ads themselves?
Do you provide a service, such as GoDaddy, and want to generate leads? Or do you have a product, like Coca-Cola, and hope to boost sales? As in the game itself, Super Bowl advertising is all about goals.
3. How do social media engagement and website traffic assist in determining the success or failure of the ad?
In 2012, only 7 percent of Super Bowl ads contained hashtags. MarketingLand.com reported that number climbed to 50 percent in 2013 and, according to Web-strategist.com, last year hashtags outnumbered corporate website mentions.
Oreo demonstrated the power of social media during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. When the game experienced a blackout, Oreo capitalized on the occasion with this memorable tweet that was retweeted 15,663 times. Oreo’s social media strategy was deliciously on target.
Keep in mind, too, that if your ad is being seen by 100 million viewers (give or take a million or so), your web servers better be prepared to handle a huge influx of traffic. In fact, the football playoff has been renamed The Second Screen Super Bowl by Adweek and others, as viewers multitask during the game by using mobile devices and laptops.
4. Are you capable of properly collecting and aggregating the data associated with ad?
See question 1 above. In order to determine ROI, you’ve got to be able to collect and analyze the data associated with ad viewership and real or perceived results.
5. Could the sum of the dollars spent on the ad be implemented differently with better overall results based on profitability targets?
In other words, are you better off by not putting all your eggs in one basket?
If you’re able to answer the questions above with certainty, and all responses point to placing a Super Bowl ad, there are a few items still to consider:
1. What type of ad resonates better with viewers? How does your product match up with the themes below?
2. How will you, the advertiser, persuade the viewer to buy your product/service or learn more about it on website, landing and social media pages?
If your goal is brand awareness, taking the viewer to your home page may suffice. But if you really want to move product or push a service, you may need to create a dedicated landing page to create a seamless experience for the consumer (and, in turn, increase conversions).
3. Can the ad be used for future ad placements rather than one and done?
You must determine how you can get the most bang for your advertising buck. If the ad is football-specific, it might be difficult to find an appropriate slot until next football season. If the ad is more generic, it could appeal to a broader audience.
4. Can your media/production costs be mitigated with the inclusion of a sponsorship from another company or organization (i.e., movie release, auto-collaboration, product tie-in)?
While the Newcastle Brown Ale example above is an ad spoof, the idea of a co-op ad would spread out the cost of the ad over several brands. Look at Target’s TV ads, for example. They often feature numerous products, each of which most likely contributed toward the cost.
Let’s face it, only a handful of companies can actually cough up the money for a Super Bowl spot. However, the same questions should be asked before launching any advertising campaign, regardless of channel.
I’m rooting for the advertisers in this year’s Super Bowl matchup. Who are you rooting for?
Phil Heness is digital marketing manager at Annodyne.