Of all the manufactured exciting events over a year’s time, none comes with as much anticipation beforehand and disappointment after than the Super Bowl. With rare exceptions, it's just not very exciting--the game, the musical act, the hoopla in the host city are usually disappointing.
That leaves the commercials.
Most of the ads are available before the Super Bowl telecast, and far from being just an advertising add-on, those online previews and teases are often exciting reveals, if only because you can imagine the thrill or chill of seeing what $5 million will buy.
(YouTube’s eighth annual Super Bowl Ad Blitz channel is active, but move on. There’s nothing much to see there--yet.)
As it turns out, says research from Unruly, 51% of the people on its panel of 1,200 said they had not seen some ads during last year's Super Bowl but they had seen them online, only.
It’s never tipped over half before, but Unruly says it “points to the fact that a significant number of Super Bowl viewers do not watch the ads live on TV," instead catching them online "during one of the two surges in sharing that occur before and after Super Bowl Sunday.”
Those include ads for Budweiser, Skittles, McDonald’s, T-Mobile, Coca-Cola and more. All of which, for Super Bowl 49 recorded far more people claiming they saw the ads online exclusively and not on TV.
The emergence of Facebook as an online video spot is changing the environment. Facebook can be a superhighway (remember that?) for sharing; Unruly says 70% of the video shares happen on Facebook within two days after an ad is released; that’s only 30% on YouTube.
But obviously, Unruly is advising that releasing ads ahead of time matters.
To best exploit an ad’s shareability, Unruly says, advertisers should put out their Super Bowl ad on Thursday before the game, because the ad will be there on what are also the biggest days for all kinds of video sharing.
Interestingly, ad volume online doesn’t seem to work. Unruly reports 32% more advertising content was created for the Super Bowl in 2015 than the year before. Nearly half the Super Bowl videos were teasers for the main event, but they drove only 8% of the total shares, and Unruly concludes one strong piece of content is a better than several pieces.
Of course, Unruly makes a name for itself in ad tech by espousing the importance of online advertising that is shared, and it pays attention to what kind of emotions drive that viewer involvement.
Devra Prywes, Unruly’s vice president of marketing and insight, marks important themes, like “fempowerment” and “dadvertising” ads that extol the prowess of women, and the virtues of fatherness for millennial men; both were big last year with ads that were actually cutdowns of longer online ads. Always and Dove did that last year, which became a cost-effective way to mark their ad moment at the game.
Unruly doesn’t actually make the point as bluntly as I will, but: An advertiser can hardly beat “dogvertising,” which last year, and maybe more this year, marks the enduring sharing power of mutt media.
The most recent potent example is Budweiser’s “Lost Dog,” the Super Bowl ad tearjerker that was shared almost 2.5 million times, the most of any Super Bowl ad last year. (Three of the all time top 10 of the shared Super Bowl ads feature dogs; two are from Budweiser.)
Humorous ads seem to be the big trend in Super Bowl advertising. Unruly has noted before that a little humor is a dangerous thing because it is hard to do funny and it’s painful when it flops. “Nothing is worse than being lame on the Internet,” Unruly’s co-founder and COO Sarah Wood reminds everybody, which might be worth remembering when you see the new tease for a Bud Light Super Bowl ad featuring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen.
I love those guys, but my sides aren’t splitting.