There are some real, quantifiable benefits to releasing content before the Super Bowl. According to one assessment of over 200 Super Bowl advertisers and 350 different creative executions over the past five seasons, campaigns with pre-game content released before the game drove 175% higher viewership, on average, than campaigns that promoted the content on game day only.
The benefits of pre-seeding – building excitement and giving brands reach and awareness – were seen early on, so brands began to adopt this strategy. Last year, 75% of brand released Super Bowl content in advance of the game, an increase from 5% only four years earlier.
It’s now less than two weeks before the Super Bowl, but it seems oddly quiet in adland. By Jan. 21, 2014, a total of 19 brands had released teasers and/or full Super Bowl ads that were driving viewership. This year, I can count on one hand the number of actual Super Bowl spots I have already viewed.
According to our analysis of Super Bowl data, the optimal time to start promoting those teasers or full-length ads is about 10 days before the game. We’re close to that 10-day countdown, so why aren’t we seeing the same kind of noise that we have in past years?
Could it be the lack of auto brands buying Super Bowl time this year? There were 11 auto brands with spots during last year’s game; this year it is estimated that there will be six. Auto brands were big proponents of pre-seeding their campaigns and drove a major amount of early Super Bowl buzz.
Or is there a little pre-game seeding backlash? The vast majority of advertisers released content before the game last year, making it harder to break through the noise and making the game less surprising for viewers. Just as we’ve seen retailers put the kibosh on holiday creep the past few years, maybe Super Bowl advertisers are waiting to show their cards next week or on Super Bowl Sunday.
More than anything, it feels as if there’s areal shift in how brands are thinking about how they create and distribute Super Bowl campaigns. No longer is it enough to release a full-length spot or a cut down spot days or weeks before the Super Bowl.
Brands are beginning to think about their Super Bowl sponsorship as a full story that includes video, native, and social amplification, which build a narrative for that full-length game day spot.The new name of the Super Bowl game is extending consumer conversation by extending the storyline, not just pushing out content further in advance.
Budweiser, for example, is producing a sequel to “Puppy Love” – the most-viewed Super Bowl campaign of 2014 – in which the adorable puppy will go missing. Already the beer brand has released pieces of the story in video online. It’s also extending the story offline, by posting missing posters on the streets of major cities.
Budweiser is one of a number of brands approaching the Super Bowl in this way, so there is definitely Super Bowl brand activity happening. Is the real reason for the lack of noise, just that the media isn’t reporting on these campaigns en masse? In past years, the release of a full-length Super Bowl spot drove immediate viewership that the media reported on.
These campaigns are building a story using social and native content, teaser video, and promotions. While these tactics may not be driving millions of views, they are creating a deeper level of engagement in brands’ Super Bowl stories.