Every year, the Super Bowl showcases the top two professional football teams and determines bragging rights for the year. But as compelling as the latest matchup is, it’s not the only game in town. The Super Bowl is a championship of sorts for advertisers too: It’s the one time of year commercials get nearly as much attention as the main event. There’s a trend toward longer-form ads to help brands capitalize on all that attention. But are brands and advertisers doing everything they can to capture viewer data and generate ROI from the big game?
As we know from past Super Bowls, advertisers are willing to pay a lot for the privilege of airing their messages at a time when they’re practically guaranteed to generate buzz. This year, a 30-second spot reportedly sells for around $4 million. Despite the hefty price tag, the trend toward even more pricey longer-form ads with a narrative theme will continue this year, following up on the highly acclaimed story-telling ads aired during recent Super Bowls.
Chrysler’s two-minute “Imported from Detroit” spot featuring rapper Eminem was a huge hit. The company followed up with a 120-second spot with Clint Eastwood, “It’s Halftime in America,” an ad that also generated significant buzz. Automakers weren’t the only brands rolling out long-form ads: Samsung made a splash last year with a two-minute spot, “Next Big Thing,” featuring A-listers like LeBron James, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd.
Longer-form ads are attractive because they provide the opportunity to tell a story that more deeply engages viewers. That’s why ad makers bring big-name talent on board behind the camera as well as in front: “Next Big Thing” was directed by Jon Favreau, director and producer of the “Iron Man” movies. The investment in top talent underscores the need to generate ROI.
Advertisers are also looking at ways to capitalize on the growing second-screen phenomenon. Networks have negotiated separate deals for ads that run in simultaneous streams of the big game. Additionally, Super Bowl ad producers routinely release teasers and otherwise encourage sharing across social media platforms, hoping for a viral hit. But if longer-form ad producers are truly serious about making their investment pay off, they’ll look at every angle to generate and analyze data that can enable them to fully account for media channel ROI.
As the media landscape shifts and new channels emerge, savvy advertisers and brands are seeking new ways to slice and dice the incredibly rich data they receive. Back when Super Bowl broadcasts were a monolithic TV event, ad makers only had to answer one question: Did the spot generate ROI? Now, with cross-channel media consumption, the question is two-fold: Did the spot generate ROI, and which media touch points delivered the most value?
This increasing complexity makes an accountable media strategy more important than ever – particularly in campaigns as expensive and high-profile as Super Bowl ads. Brands are investing millions to purchase longer spots to more effectively tell their story. They are willing to pay for top-shelf talent in front of the camera and behind it. And they’re actively promoting second-screen viewing and viral sharing.
But unless brands and advertising executives are pursuing an accountable media strategy that enables them to consolidate data from multiple media channels and clearly identify customer drivers, they aren’t getting the most value they can from Big Data – or from the big game.