Commentary

Brands Are Missing Advertising Opportunities During the Year's Most-Watched Events

The headlines that come out post-Super Bowl each year are rarely about the score or the athletics – many are actually about the best, worst and most eye-popping ads that aired during the game. The same goes for other big events, like March Madness and the FIFA World Cup. Brands will shell out tons of money for a spot during one of these events, hoping to be a contender on a post-game list of best ads – not the mention gain visibility among millions of viewers.

When tallied up, brands are paying millions for only 30 seconds of airtime. Given that, it’s surprising that most brands are not capitalizing on other opportunities to effectively advertise during these popular events – namely, the ability to target ads based on what viewers are actually talking about.

Engaging in real-time advertising can broaden brands’ efforts to best reach the audiences that are actively following these events through social media and other platforms. Real-time advertising can also help brands reach new audiences that wouldn’t have come into contact with their million-dollar game time spot.

Many brands already duplicate their Super Bowl advertisements on YouTube and build larger campaigns out of the creative aired during the big game. Social media, for instance, is a great way to expand the reach of these ads, using the storyline from the creative to engage audiences after the game.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be done in real-time.

The power of real-time is that it enables advertisers to capitalize on audiences’ interests and activities right now. Consumers’ interest and attention can shift dramatically by day, or even by hour, depending on the current headlines and trends. Are people watching replays on YouTube? Tweeting about an ad that just aired?

Real-time ad campaigns give brands the ability to be adaptive in their media purchases, buying Twitter sponsored ads when audiences are engaging on that platform,  then switching to YouTube ads an hour later when a relevant video goes viral. That type of ongoing optimization for ad placements means higher engagement and better performance metrics throughout the campaign.

This isn’t just effective during the four hours of the event either. Real-time is actually the most powerful on an ongoing basis because it’s continually improving upon itself. Take a look at the “mom” demographic, for instance.

Most media buyers know that moms are generally interested in cooking, safe vehicles, educational toys and child-friendly vacations, and they plan out advertisements against those areas of interest. There is a lot missing from that archetype, though. What about a recent (hypothetical) piece of news about the latest developments in the Middle East, or Beyoncé’s new album? Are moms following these stories?

Most media buyers don’t know the answer, and even if they did, wouldn’t be able to plan for those real-time shifting interests. This is a flaw in current media plans, but one that real-time advertising can amend. By actively listening to what moms are talking about on social media and beyond, advertisers can understand what topics they follow on a regular basis, and which news items they’re reading today, putting relevant content in front of them at the right time.

The advertising industry will quickly realize the benefits that real-time advertising can bring to any campaign, large or small, and adopt these practices for every campaign. That’s not to say that traditional, planned advertising won’t be relevant. Rather, a Super Bowl ad or March Madness campaign in the future is likely to consist of a standard 30-second TV spot, supported by a wider social media effort and a real-time strategy for display media. That way, advertisers can reach all the most relevant audiences in the method that is best suited for them – and, in turn, they’ll see strong return on those million dollar investments.

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