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Super Bowl ads now amaze almost as much as the game itself

The Game Behind Super Bowl Ads

February 5th, 2016   ||    by Duane Craig

Are Super Bowl ads really effective? Well, if the amounts advertisers are willing to pay for them is any indication, they are. The price tag goes up annually with 30-second ads this year going for $5 million, according to Fortune. So what causes brands to spend so much?

Research from Stanford University suggests there’s a big direct payout for those that don’t go head-to-head with competitors. Researchers concluded that Anheuser-Busch, the holder of exclusive rights to Super Bowl national beer commercials for the past 20 years, has received a 172 percent return on investment. And, there’s evidence Super Bowl ads perform in the short term too. Apple’s now infamous 1984 Super Bowl commercial sparked $155 million in Macintosh sales during the three months following its airing.

But it’s not always about direct sales numbers. Brand awareness indirectly produces sales and helps increase market share. When the Green Bay Packers broke their 13-year hiatus from the Super Bowl in 2011 the Milwaukee ratings for the game jumped 14 points, exposing advertising messages to more viewers in that part of the country, and potentially affecting market share.

2016’s Brand Messages

According to CNN Money, 2015’s game averaged 114.4 million viewers. The peak viewership came near the game’s end when 120.8 million tuned in. Those kinds of numbers are hard to ignore by brands that want to make big statements to large audiences. And the statements in 2016 are diverse.

PayPal is using a 45-second Super Bowl commercial to launch its first ad campaign since becoming independent of eBay. The company noted it wants to connect to the game’s large audience when it launches the new brand campaign that will showcase its “vision for the future of money.” PayPal has never advertised during the Super Bowl before.

Colgate is taking ideas of sustainability to its very first ad on the Super Bowl by encouraging people to turn off the water when they brush their teeth. TurboTax is using its Super Bowl ad as part of its broader campaign to help people see the simplicity of doing their own taxes. The ad is just one part of the company’s “multi-year journey to reposition the TurboTax brand and to build meaningful, emotional connections with consumers,” explained a company spokesperson, according to AdAge. Seven 30-second TV spots round out the campaign.

Watching for the Ads

But there’s something else about Super Bowl ads that speak well for their influence. People like to watch them, and reporting in MediaPost suggests tradition is the reason. While 47 percent of respondents said they tune in to the Super Bowl for the ads, 31 percent of both men and women said they watch the game and the ads because “it’s a tradition.” Survey respondents also said that “in order to be relevant” advertisers needed to be part of professional sporting events.

Almost equal numbers of respondents agreed that the reasons the Super Bowl is most important is because:

  • It’s a great event for gathering in groups.
  • People talk about it during and after the game.
  • It’s the event with the best ads.

And, sporting events top the list when it comes to big audiences. Eight of the top 10 most-watched telecasts in 2015 were sporting events, according to Nielsen. But, there are other venues where TV ads capture more than cursory attention. Holidays for one, and movie releases. The latest Star Wars release is boosting ad engagement scores by 57 percent over what’s typical in the industry, according to iSpot.

When you’re ready to change your TV advertising game, learn your options at Videa.

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