By Sahil Patel
For a long time, a Super Bowl advertiser knew that advertising during the big game was essentially a one-off deal. Sure, they could recoup some of their investment by running those ads on TV for weeks and months to come, but the real value was when millions and millions were tuned into the biggest TV event of the year.
That’s no longer the case, and the rise of web video, via platforms such as YouTube, has a lot to do with it. “These days, Super Bowl advertising isn’t just a 30-second spot that airs during the game,” says David Paull, founder of research technology developer Dialsmith. “At upwards of $4.5 million a pop, brands are looking for ways to build an integrated strategy around this effort.”
The Super Bowl is still the tentpole, for sure. But the massive amounts of video consumption on the web helps advertisers who, as Paull says, view the release of their Super Bowl ad as a “launchpad for a year-long campaign.”
This is why some advertisers are pre-releasing their ad on the web, recognizing that the lifespan of the spot will be far longer if it’s distributed as a piece of branded content across platforms, rather than just a TV commercial.
“Pre-releasing an ad allows them to start generating buzz early and drive social interactions in the week leading up to the game,” says Paull. “The downside is they lose the element of surprise, which is why not all brands do it.”
Some brands try to get the best of both worlds, by teasing their Super Bowl spot with mini-trailers on the web. “That’s what Skittles is doing this year and they have some fun teasers that leave you wondering where it’s going,” says Paull. “In the end that may prove to be an even more effective strategy because it builds curiosity and buzz without giving too much away so they can also capitalize on game-day buzz.”
Overall, though, this means a lot more branded content, which forces advertisers step-up their game if they want to break through the clutter.
Dialsmith is one of several companies that seeks to help advertisers understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to advertising. Its Slidermetrix tool allows advertisers to essentially “focus group” their content. As viewers watch the full ad, they can use a slider underneath the video to tell the advertiser if they like or don’t like an ad, down to specific moments in the video.
“Not only do they get to approve or disapprove, but they also get to give feedback on every second of the ad, not just the ad overall,” says Paull. “We find the overall results map pretty closely with other ratings and polls, but the Slidermetrix ratings allow us to pinpoint individual moments that really worked and those that flopped.”
For instance, last year, Budweiser, Doritos, and Radio Shack all did incredibly well on Slidermetrix — and of course the web overall. Dialsmith found that Budweiser’s “A Hero’s Welcome” spot was not only the top ad, but also netted the biggest moment, when the soldier reunited with his mom and they hugged.
From these kinds of data points, advertisers can pinpoint the elements that drive viewership and sharing, says Paull. “From our ratings, we have deduced that tugging at the heartstrings and humor that’s actually funny are two
keys to success. The trick is, the sentiment has to come across as genuine and if you’re going to try to be funny, it had better actually be funny.”
To be fair, that’s easier said than done. But it does show what an advertiser needs to accomplish if they want their ad to live beyond the Super Bowl.
With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Dialsmith to examine which, if any, of this year’s Super Bowl ads have the chance to succeed. As brands post their ads online before, during, and after they air on TV during the game, they will also show up on this page, which will allow you to watch and rate the quality of the spot. Click through, watch, and help us figure out the winners of this year’s Super Bowl — other than the Seahawks, that is.