Each year, advertisers invest millions of dollars to land a Super Bowl TV ad in hopes of achieving that perfect storm of marketing - executing an iconic commercial that will increase brand awareness and drive unparalleled sales impact. For Super Bowl XLVIII, that investment is going to cost advertisers $4 million for a 30-second spot, up an estimated 14% compared to 2013 and upwards of 15-to-20 times the cost-per-point of an average TV spot depending on target audience.
In an era of highly fragmented TV audiences and widespread time-shifted viewing, broadcasts of live sporting events deliver the broadest reach without allowing viewers the opportunity to skip commercials. Among live sporting events in the US, the Super Bowl represents by far the largest and most captive audience that a marketer could hope to reach with a single ad execution with average ratings nearly three times higher than the Oscars telecast and more than five times higher than the most popular regularly scheduled programming (see chart below for comparisons of select programs).
Fox, the network that will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLVIII, announced back in December (nearly two months in advance of the game) that TV ad inventory was sold out. The location of this year’s game, MetLife Stadium in the massive New York media market, has only added to the buzz around the event and its media potential. This hype coupled with the anticipation of consumers to watch the commercials themselves increases the challenge to deliver a spot that will break through and be remembered well beyond its initial airing, like Apple’s “1984” or, more recently, Volkswagen’s “The Force”ad were able to do.
In Analytic Partners’ experience working with clients who have executed Super Bowl TV spots, we have seen a large variance in sales impact and ROI. Ads that land near the top of popular rankings such as USA Today’s Ad Meter typically deliver ROIs two to three times higher than commercials that rank outside the top 10 spots (which tend to have much lower than average ROIs than a typical TV ad buy due to the significantly higher costs). In addition to the incremental sales impact generated by a break-through ad, there is the potential to drive additional consumer response through the social media “buzz” created around a popular commercial. AP analysis of Super Bowl ad performance has found that the value of activity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets could increase overall ROI by 40%-60%. Through our analysis, we have also found that ads supporting campaign launches or other “big ideas” tended to resonate better with consumers based on in-market sales impact.
Given the expensive price tag of running a TV ad during the Super Bowl, it is important that advertisers take the necessary steps to set themselves up for success. By following a few key guidelines, a brand can position itself to maximize the benefits of the mass media audience that advertising during the Super Bowl can deliver:
- Create Strong Copy – Develop creative that stands out from other ads and will be memorable not only for its entertainment value but also for its branding
- Introduce a Big Idea – Harness the broad reach and captive audience to launch a new campaign or to support a major new product introduction
- Leverage Social Media – Create tie-ins to brand assets on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to magnify the impact of the TV ad and help to increase the overall ROI of the execution
Which brands will succeed in creating the most memorable ads for this year’s Super Bowl? Tune in on Sunday, February 2nd to the enjoy the game…and the ads, of course!