Year after year, marketers view Super Bowl advertising as an early indication of trends that will define the rest of the year. With Apple Music replacing Pepsi as a sponsor of the Halftime Show after 10 years, and Anheuser-Busch InBev dropping its alcohol advertising exclusivity after 33 years, the industry is particularly excited to see how things will play out.
What is interesting about Super Bowl LVII’s advertising is that despite uncertainty in the year ahead, ad space sales have picked up pace, with Fox announcing last September that 95% of its inventory had been sold. The reason behind this paradox is that a decrease in overall ad spending is forcing advertisers to refocus on channels that guarantee reliable viewership and digital measurement, making sporting events the perfect time to advertise, drawing in large audiences.
The amount of content consumed often rises during major sporting events, as viewers try to keep up with the latest news. This translates to more time spent online, and provides a good opportunity for brands to connect with audiences across multiple platforms – and, in turn, build greater brand awareness, sales, and overall engagement. Here’s what to keep in mind for successful campaigns during these events:
1. Engagement Over Impressions
A brand’s campaign may have a high viewability rate, but that doesn’t equate to genuine connection and interaction. In order to experience true moments of engagement, today’s viewers choose interest over intrusion and interaction over interruption. This change directly impacts advertisers that need to shift from impressions to engagement.
As marketing budgets undergo strict scrutiny, attribution is becoming as important as ever, since it provides marketers with crucial data that can help them further optimize their ad spending and lower acquisition costs. According to Salesforce’s 8th edition of the State of Marketing Report, 72% of high-performing marketers are able to analyze marketing performance in real-time. Inevitably, this trend forces teams to focus on objectives lower down the funnel, as they provide a clear ROAS.
2. Context Matters
In a fast-paced advertising industry, achieving brand relevance can be challenging when 73% of consumers expect personalization in their experience with brands. According to the Salesforce State of Marketing report, 75% of marketers still rely on third-party data as part of their customer-centric engagement strategy. Despite deadlines to phase out third-party cookies being postponed, keeping up with consumers’ expectations will require marketers to reconcile this strategy with imminent changes in privacy regulations. This is why contextual advertising is a form of content promotion that places advertisements in relevant environments, instead of using consumers’ third-party data.
For events that attract such large audiences, such as the Super Bowl, advertising in contextually relevant environments is critical to reach the right audiences. Red Bull was able to achieve this by reaching users that matched their potential audience on a network of premium publisher websites, resulting in a bounce rate -47% lower than the objective. When advertising on the open web, brands are also able to leverage the credibility of that channel through the halo effect, and what better positive association for sports fans than their go-to hub to get reliable news from: premium sports publishers.
Advertising placements in media sites not only help achieve the objective of brand relevance but are also guaranteed to have consumers’ eyes on them during these big sporting events. According to our platform, compared to the first week of January 2022, our publishers experienced a 30 percentage point increase in CTR during Super Bowl week.
3. Multi-Touch Marketing
With 30-second spots selling for more than $7 million, and only about 70 ads airing during the long-awaited Halftime Show, Super Bowl advertising isn’t accessible to every company. Fortunately, for marketers with tighter budgets, not all fans’ attention is on the TV screen, as 49% of viewers use multiple screens to follow the big game, meaning brands can still leverage the popularity of the event through other channels.
Catching consumer attention more than once through different channels is an efficient strategy to achieve loyalty, as 89% of customers are retained by companies with multichannel engagement strategies. We see this type of strategy being used also by the big Super Bowl halftime advertisers, as instead of solely relying on a 30-second spot during the game, they are incorporating social campaigns outside of it to build anticipation and engagement. This can be easily replicated by diversifying your media mix and not relying solely on one advertising channel.
4. Effective Media Mix
With inflation driving cost-cutting behaviors in consumers, and digital ad prices inside the walled gardens rising, getting in front of – and proving brand value to – as many consumers as possible in a lucrative way is imperative. An effective way to achieve this is by expanding social and search into new user acquisition channels. According to Statista, consumers spend the majority of their time online on the open web (66%), making the potential scalability provided by the channel unmatched. This should consequently mirror the percentage of ad dollars spent by brands, to avoid misalignment. In addition, experiences on the open web resonate with consumers more as audiences are generally curious and in the mood to discover. This is the perfect state of mind for someone to receive an ad.
5. Prioritize Video
With fans looking for more ways to engage online while using multiple screens to follow the big game, video ads come as a snack-sized, memorable, and measurable solution to tell a brand’s compelling story in a visually-appealing way. Interactive video experiences with in-video CTA integrations are especially effective in doing this, while also optimizing performance goals as they drive higher completion and conversion rates. GSK, a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, was especially successful in promoting its leading toothpaste brand, Sensodyne, through video ads with these features, which allowed them to achieve a 10.3% conversion rate.
In times of uncertainty, reliability becomes imperative to marketers. This year, events drawing large audiences will present themselves as an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers that are hungry to consume more content. With the right strategy, focus on appropriate metrics, and an effective media mix, any player can achieve their business goals.