Ever hear the saying that the Super Bowl is just an excuse to watch the ads? Well, this year the game will become even less of the focus as Marketers move beyond simply driving ad recall via their Super Bowl marketing activities, and more toward driving consumer conversations and brand interactions that “feed” off of their ads and brand integrations.
In a recent Nielsen Wire post, Pete Blackshaw, EVP Nielsen Digital Strategic Services, and I discussed how the Super Bowl is the ultimate marketing “ecosystem’ of paid media and earned media (Disclosure: I work for The Nielsen Company).
For Marketers, 2010 will mean not only a Super Bowl mega-media buy, but also a new focus on how to leverage that investment into earned media that provides a long tail of consumer driven buzz and brand equity building activities.
Super Bowl Paid Media: How Does It Really Work ?
What should marketers keep in mind when planning their spectacular media-buy?
- The entertainment halo matters – Over the last three years, Nielsen IAG research has found that Super Bowl spots achieved +31% higher break-through and +93% higher likability than the typical TV ad. Why? Partly because the Super Bowl has higher than average TV program engagement, but mostly because the ads really are part of the show.
- Timing is everything – Ad recall across the game shows that 1st and 2nd quarter spots yield more yardage than second half spots. Fourth quarter spots have the lowest recall and are about comparable to a “normal” TV buy. It’s clear: advertisers should play early and sit on the sidelines in the 2nd half.
- Consumers get finicky – The viewer’s ability to associate the correct brand with the ad as well as reported likability levels wane over the course of the game: 1st quarters are best, 4th quarters are worst. Super Bowl refreshment fatigue, perhaps?
- …But as the game continues, good spirits abound – Surprisingly, in-program product placement scores are just the opposite–they grow over time. Branded entertainment recall and brand opinion are lowest pre-game, moderate during the game, and highest post-game.
The bottom line for Marketers? Focus on ads early, and branded integration efforts late. Perhaps most importantly, the Super Bowl is a “touchdown” for brands: the average ad’s purchase consideration increases +13% in the week after the game versus pre-game.
Earned Media: Great Advertising Finds Life in Other Places
How does the Super Bowl shine light on free media and consumer conversation? A Super Bowl ad may trigger a web site visit, a Google search, a Tweet, fan-page sign ups, or DVR rewind. Or it could bleed over into the Twitter stream of a New York Times or Ad Age reporter. My Nielsen colleague Pete Blackshaw provides another take on maximizing paid and earned media in an Ad Age article “Earned Media May Be Efficient, But It’s Far From Free.” This whole paid vs. earned issue raises two important questions:
- The Impact of Earned Media – Positive playback about Super Bowl ads can provide brands with an almost endless stream of conversation — a “digital trail” of echo-like activities. This free media needs to be considered when brands try to calculate their return on Super Bowl investment. The question is: how can brands best design their “paid” marketing efforts to drive this free digital trail ?
- Trail Measurement – Marketers can quantify earned media by volume, reach, tone, source, or even depth of brand advocacy. Much of this can be understood in real-time. Marketers need to understand not just how much, but also how effective it is. And, what effect does “earned” media have on future paid efforts? Is it possible that the digital trail after effects actually produce better ad performance in the future?
Paid Media & Earned Media: Put To The Test
So in the end, it’s not as simple as “buying” high-impact ads and branded integrations at the right time in the years largest media circus–the Super Bowl.
The broader ecosystems matter — and Marketers have to figure out how paid media drives earned, how earned media impacts future paid, and how both of them contribute to building consumer engagement and brand equity.