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Is Super Bowl Advertising Money Well Spent?

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Experienced marketing and advertising professionals don’t watch the Super Bowl like most Americans do. As Tamara Gaffney observes on the Adobe Digital Index team has just performed two types of analysis to understand:

  • The consumption patterns of sports-related content across devices, and
  • How web traffic is impacted by television advertising around the Super Bowl.

Mobile Video Viewing Will Double on Super Bowl Sunday

The Adobe Digital Index team analyzed 1.4 billion video starts during 10 large sporting events in 2012 and compared them to typical, non-event days. Viewers demonstrated an increasing propensity to check video from their mobile phones and an even larger desire to watch video from tablets during these special sporting events.

These data points are compelling, but the most striking one in the chart below is the percentage of online videos accessed by tablet and mobile phones, reaching 16 percent on a day with a major sporting event – a 100 percent increase compared to a typical day in sports. Viewership levels of this magnitude are significant and demonstrate the need for media websites to continue to invest in usability, design, and optimization of mobile content.

mobile-video-shares-for-sporting-events-adobe

For advertisers, this begs some questions.

  • Should I supplement my Super Bowl ad spend with online video to reach a more affluent and targeted audience with more measurable results? 
  • Or, if I can’t afford America’s most expensive 30 seconds of airtime (between $3.7 million and $3.8 million in 2013), can I take advantage of the event in other ways online?

The Adobe Digital Index data suggests that marketers should be saying “yes” and “yes” to these questions.

Super Bowl advertisers should consider the mobile video consumption trend to supplement their television expenditure with incremental online video advertising. Advertisers looking for more targeted vehicles or who cannot afford the Super Bowl premium can tap into this marketing moment online and capitalize on the digital channel’s great targeting, low CPMs and affluent audience.

Although mobile advertising is still complex, the prices remain relatively low while the audience is growing and is proven to spend more. US advertisers spent $180 billion in 2012, but directed only 2 percent of that spend into mobile advertising, according to eMarketer’s Worldwide Ad Spending Forecast in January 2013.

Super Bowl Advertisers See 20% Traffic Increase; Bump Lasts a Week

Visits and page views to companies that advertise on TV during the Super Bowl show a 20 percent increase in visits on the day of the game and maintain higher than average traffic for a week following the game. However, by the week after that, all is forgotten and traffic returns to its normal levels.

The chart below shows visits leading up to and following the Super Bowl in 2011:

web-visits-before-after-super-bowl

In 2012, more and more brands launched Super Bowl videos online before the game. The chart above shows that traffic for advertisers peaked much earlier in the cycle prior to the Super Bowl.

The week following the Super Bowl, however, saw a lower lift of 12 percent more page views versus 15 percent in 2011 and 12 percent more visits in 2012 versus 23 percent in 2011. These findings indicate that the previews were more likely to pull traffic forward than increase the overall impact. Clearly, optimizing the digital returns from Super Bowl advertising is still a work in progress.

Many advertising conversations revolve around the tradeoffs between digital and traditional advertising when in fact, the most powerful formula comes from the combination of them.

As media companies expand their digital content and ad insertion capabilities, especially in the area of video and mobile, and as advertisers dial in the magic formula between online and offline media spend, it becomes increasingly clear that the industry can no longer think in terms of one versus the other. The marriage of digital and traditional media will become the ultimate solution and will drive unprecedented results.

Will Super Bowl advertisers be able to dial in the previews and extend the post-Super Bowl bump this year? Will they incorporate online and offline campaigns more effectively and improve the effectiveness of their Super Bowl ad expenditures? Will advertisers get their money’s worth?

A lot of these questions will be topics of discussions after February 3rd. In the meantime, both the Adobe Digital Index team and Search Engine Watch are interested in hearing your thoughts.


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