Super Bowl Video Ads: The Playing Field Is Wide Open For Advertisers To Score Big
Ad expert Anita Newton shares how brands can take advantage of the Super Bowl without dropping $4.5M on a halftime spot.
As the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, many brands have already taken the field, launching Super Bowl advertising campaigns well in advance of game night.
According to advertising expert Anita Newton, there is a lot more experimentation happening this year, from a number of teaser ad campaigns already in play to YouTube’s first-ever halftime show.
“This is the year of experimentation,” said Newton, “There are so many new things to try, which is good and bad news – because, well, there are so many new things to try.”
Newton serves as the vice president of corporate marketing for Adknowledge, a digital advertising company that helps agencies and advertisers manage their video, social media and mobile campaigns.
So far this year, Newton said she likes the Snickers Brady Bunch teaser ad, “It’s really funny, and makes you want more.”
She also agrees with Toyota’s decision to release its full-length “To Be a Dad” commercial because it is so touching and universal, “Even though it was over two minutes, I found myself watching the whole thing.”
When asked about YouTube’s plans to produce its own halftime show, Newton said it’s a great experiment with little downside, “YouTube is effectively splitting the audience by hijacking the younger viewers with more relevant content for that age group.”
Armed with the experience of running video advertising campaigns for companies like Loreal, AT&T, Volkswagen, Intuit and Johnson and Johnson, Newton shares what brands can learn from some of the most successful Super Bowl advertisers.
How Brands Can Win the Super Bowl: 5 Questions with Anita Newtown
Amy Gesenhues: Looking at last year’s major Super Bowl advertisers, what are the top three takeaways for brands in terms of online video advertising?
Anita Newton: The best Super Bowl advertisers last year practiced what I call the three “E’s”:
Early is usually better: Last year’s Super Bowl ad winner “Puppy Love” ran on January 29 – days before the game. Budweiser heavily marketed the ad online. The result? 1.14 million shares before the game even kicked-off.
Engagement wins: The best ads engage users, spurring them to action, either by sharing the ad or voting for a winner.
Esurance actually did one of the best executions buying a spot after the game ended. The advertiser announced it would pass on its savings to one person who tweeted the campaign hashtag #esuranceSave30.
Echo – create one: Promote your ad aggressively online after the game. The Super Bowl advertisers that amplified their brands online days and weeks after the Super Bowl had greater recall than those that just promoted their spot with a burst of advertising.
We actually surveyed over 1,000 people and found that the brands employing this strategy had two times better recall than those that didn’t.
Amy Gesenhues: Is there a “sweet spot” when it comes to how far in advance a brand should share its Super Bowl commercial?
Anita Newton: The decision to release an ad should start, first and foremost, with the Super Bowl advertiser’s business objectives.
If your spot is predicated on shock value or a specific call-to-action that is time bound, like the one from Esurance, I referenced earlier, releasing a spot early may not make sense. But if it aligns with your business objectives, the argument to release a spot before the Super Bowl is pretty compelling.
First, in order for your commercial to become part of the pre-Super Bowl advertising cycle, you have to share it in advance. The Budweiser “Puppy Love” spot ran on national TV 75 times and local affiliates 1,200 prior to the game.
Second, consumers are beginning to expect it. Last year, consumers watched one in five Super Bowl ads before the game.
Third, and perhaps most important, if you seed your ad on YouTube, you will get better pricing and performance. Like Facebook, YouTube optimizes your ad based on your history.
YouTube, at it is heart, is a performance management system. Seeding your ad before Super Bowl Sunday establishes a performance history which helps you optimize your ad more effectively, at a lower cost.
Amy Gesenhues: Newcastle Pale Ale has gained a sizable amount of buzz for its Super Bowl ads without actually being a Super Bowl advertiser. What do you suggest for brands that do not have a Super Bowl ad budget?
Anita Newtown: Newcastle represented the ultimate fake punt strategy. There is no reason other brands shouldn’t do the same.
Advertisers can take advantage of all the Super Bowl hoopla at a fraction of the cost. The approach I would recommend looks like this:
- Clearly identify your marketing objectives. Specifically, what’s the goal, and what’s the intended outcome?
- List what (in your view) are the best places for your ad placement; if you are a local hardware shop, list potential areas that are of interest to your target—DIY videos, remodeling segments, etc. These are the best places to find customers and prospects.
- Consider a third-party that can run your ad campaign. Trust someone who understands your objectives, can make changes in real time, and include a recommended plan with your results to help you during your next campaign.
Amy Gesenhues: With Facebook’s recent surge in video views, how should brands consider the social media platform when formulating their video advertising strategy?
Anita Newton: A 100 million internet users watch an online video every day. Essentially a third of all online activity is spent watching video.
So while YouTube is the dominant platform for video, advertisers would be remiss if they didn’t extend their YouTube strategy to other online mediums.
Facebook introduced videos that started playing automatically in news feeds earlier this year. The results have been astounding: Video views grew more than 50 percent from May through July on Facebook this year. Social Advertising platform AdParlor experienced a 30 percent increase in video ad-related advertising requests.
I would expect similar results when Twitter launches its autoplay later this year.
Advertisers should also look at other opportunities – including native video – to find contextualized placements and target the right audience.
Amy Gesenhues: Over the last few years, which Super Bowl ad do you think really knocked it out of the park – or, stadium since we’re talking football?
Anita Newton: The best ad campaign in recent years was the VW Darth Vader ad. It was a simple but brilliant piece of creative. The spot received over 9,000 earned media placements, has been shared nearly 6M times and has been viewed over 60 million times on YouTube.
But the other reason the spot did so well is it also was built around a campaign.
VW had a clear business rationale: the Passat needed to go from 10,000 units sold per year to 10,000 per month. The car had low awareness, and was going head to head against deeply entrenched competitors.
Given VW’s aggressive sales goals, the company needed to gain awareness quickly. In this respect, the Super Bowl was the perfect platform.
VW released its ad four days in advance of the Super Bowl, garnering 12 million online views prior the game, and extended the ad by creating additional behind-the-scenes content with Lucasfilm at ComicCon.
The automaker also ran 15 teaser campaigns, followed by key product messages that helped spike view-through conversions. And post-Super Bowl, Volkswagen actively promoted its advertising on YouTube and other social media channels.
Ultimately, the real winner was the sales department. Eight months after the commercial ran to wide praise, Passat sales were up 455% YOY.