Anyone that watched the Super Bowl watched for at least one of the following reasons:
- They hoped to see their favorite team win
- They hoped to see their rival team lose
- They wanted to see the halftime show
- They wanted to see the ads
- They showed up to a Super Bowl party for the free food
While I think interest in football and the halftime show varies depending on your crowd and the teams, I would say most of us enjoy numbers four and five every single year. While I could blog all day about food, this is a PPC blog, so I’m going to discuss number four instead.
The ads are usually either very funny or very sentimental, which we can all appreciate. I’ll be the first to admit that there are at least two major benefits to purchasing a spot during the Super Bowl.
First, Super Bowl advertisers know that they have the undivided attention of the viewers. Many Americans intend to watch the ads, if nothing else. It’s the only instance during my year where I behave that way, and I know I’m not the only one!
Second, there are millions of Americans watching. Recent Super Bowl ads were watched by 110-155 million people each year. That’s around 1 in 3 Americans. If your target audience is in the U.S, advertising during the Super Bowl is probably one of the fastest methods of brand awareness.
But in the same way that great power brings great responsibility, great reach brings great risk.
Super Bowl ads are not for the risk-averse. Super Bowl ads must be bold in some way to stand out against the others, but at the same time, those brands need to be careful that they don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. In recent years, companies like Groupon and Nationwide have had to actually apologize for the content in their Super Bowl ads. That’s not just wasted spend. Their brands were temporarily tarnished in the eyes of over 110 million Americans. That’s a result of the risk they took with an ad that only has one chance to sink or float. Advertising during the Super Bowl is the perfect example of high risk, high reward.
(I mean really, does anyone remember which brand made this ad last year?)
Here comes my shameless plug for PPC.
PPC is for every brand! Specifically, PPC is for the brands that don’t have the budget to spend on the Super Bowl crowd. It’s also for brands that don’t have the budget to clear up a potential PR nightmare if their Super Bowl ad flops. In addition, PPC is for brands that need traceable results and that prefer audience and ad copy testing.
Here’s my breakdown of why your company is not missing out if you spent $5 million on PPC last year versus a 30 second Super Bowl ad.
The average price for a 30 second Super Bowl ads this year is $5 million. That’s a Super Bowl record. I can think of a LOT of PPC video campaigns that I could run for $5 million. For those of you that run PPC campaigns with monthly budgets, your monthly budget would be $416,667 for one year if you had $5,000,000 to spend.
The Super Bowl audience is so large that the advertisers are paying about $.04-$.05 per view. Not too shabby. However, let’s remember that there’s very little chance that the advertisers’ target demographics include everyone watching the Super Bowl. Meaning, that’s only $0.04-$0.05 per view for a generally low-quality audience. As an advertiser, I’d rather spend $5,000,000 on a well-targeted audience over the course of a year versus targeting 1/3 of Americans for 30 seconds.
2) Results Are Traceable
If you’ve run at least one PPC campaign, you’ve probably been frustrated by conversion tracking. However, we’re always grateful when it works. Digital advertising ROI is now more quantifiable than ever. Conversion tracking shows us how our customers interact with our brand throughout the online buyer’s cycle. We can use conversion tracking to build a case for why PPC is a great investment for the company because the ROI is traceable.
With Super Bowl ads, or any TV commercial for that matter, it’s trickier. We know the Super Bowl audience is massive, so there has to be a gain from a well-received ad, right? Sure, but it’s harder to quantify that PPC. Thanks to social media, it is easier to track the positive and negative feedback towards a brand right after the Super Bowl commercial. Plus, those ads will be shared for the days and weeks following the Super Bowl. Regardless, there are millions of Americans that won’t feel the need to mention any Super Bowl ads on social media whether or not the ad affected them. Maybe they’ll become a customer, maybe they won’t. You probably wouldn’t find out either way because you can’t track which sales came from customers that saw the ad. At best, you’ll see a lift in sales shortly after the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl ads happen once per year. That’s it. The crowd either loved it, hated it, or forgot about it because it wasn’t as memorable as the others. Super Bowl advertisers have one shot.
(We all loved this one last year^)
With PPC ads, we can test until we have optimized to create the most memorable ad. We have multiple opportunities to engage with a potential customer, across many platforms. Just like a human relationship, we can try to catch a user’s attention on separate occasions if they do not notice the ad the first time. PPC allows advertisers to play a long game via remarketing. Super Bowl ads can’t trigger remarketing because again, those viewers can’t be tracked.
If I owned a multi-million or multi-billion dollar company, I might still decide to advertise during the Super Bowl. It has obviously worked favorably for many fantastic companies.
However, I would be extremely cautious and at the end of the day, I could easily be convinced to just allocate that budget to the next year of PPC and I’d probably see more results.