Super Bowl XLVII, which will air on CBS, is just around the corner. Media buyers suggest that CBS is selling its in-game 30-second ad slots at an average cost of $4 million -- a 14% increase from a year ago, and a record high. That means the Super Bowl represents perhaps the biggest investment a marketer may make in a single media property all year (more millions are spent to produce their commercials, apart from air time fees).
What’s an advertiser’s justification for spending so much?
Done right, TV Super Bowl ads are a great way to reach a large diverse market, but they can no longer be standalone assets. In order to achieve the greatest long-tail effect and success from commercials, marketers need to develop fully integrated Super Bowl campaigns that optimize digital channels to support and promote these costly TV ads. It’s just not as simple as buying high-reach media; the broader ecosystem truly matters.
Historically, Super Bowl ads were a two-day hit. Now they can be a six to eight-week marketing event. It starts with incorporating a pre-release exposure strategy: for example, a brand releases with ad details, then teaser videos or sneak preview clips, followed by releasing the full commercial and in some cases, extended versions with more content, contests, etc. Some will use social video, uploading the commercials to YouTube and promoting them through Facebook and Twitter, making it easier for consumers to see, share and discuss the ads.
And it doesn't stop there. Online video has become an increasingly important piece of the marketing mix for any traditional ad campaign, but the stakes are especially high for Super Bowl advertisers. Thanks to posts, uploads and embedded clips, a typical Super Bowl ad will receive millions of views online in the weeks after the big game. This type of added audience exposure is priceless and there are potentially millions of dollars of earned exposure being gained before and after the ads are aired, on top of the millions of impressions the ads obtain during the actual Super Bowl telecast.
Now that standalone Super Bowl ads have evolved into weeks-long, multichannel, pre/post-game campaigns, there's more to measure to determine the effectiveness/ROI and to justify the cost of the spot. This can be done using several different methodologies, such as traditional surveys and focus groups, as well as monitoring what people are saying and the sort of buzz the brand has managed to create before, during and after the game. These (media, behavioral, attitudinal, social, etc.) metrics can vary, depending on the purpose of the ads and the marketer's needs.
Like most other measurement questions, there isn’t one standard way to determine the effectiveness and ROI of advertising. To make the most out of their Super Bowl commercials, marketers should look at the whole picture, which means measuring total impact (combining traditional TV and cross-platform paid and earned media metrics) of their multi-faceted Super Bowl video campaign, not only the game-day impact.