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Advertising Around The Super Bowl: Q&A With A Marketing Strategist

Are Super Bowl ads worth the investment? Marketing strategist Matt Voda shares tips for advertising around the "Big Game" in this Q&A.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve asked some tough questions like:

Now, I keep asking these questions because I believe that SEO experts, content marketers, social media marketers, and digital advertisers can learn some important lessons from brands that spend up to $6.5 million for a 30-second spot during the “Big Game.”

And with Super Bowl 2022 just days away, even the YouTube Official Blog just posted “Get Pumped for the Super Bowl with YouTube AdBlitz.”

Author Sadie Thoma, Director of US Creative Works, noted:

“According to a Kantar survey, when excluding those that don’t care about sports or don’t plan to watch the Big Game, 72% rewatch at least some football commercials before or after the game.”

Heck, those fans can even watch the first teasers and commercials on the AdBlitz channel.

For example, examine official big game ads like “A Clydesdale’s Journey | Budweiser Super Bowl 2022.”

Or, watch action-packed ads like “The Call | Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show OFFICIAL TRAILER.”

Or, check out comedy ads like “First question: Do you like saving money? | Shop with Honey.”

Instead of telling you what I think about Super Bowl ads again this year, I decided to ask Matt Voda (the CEO of OptiMine, a consumer privacy advocate and nationally recognized expert in marketing strategy) if he wanted to tackle some tough questions, like “Why are some brands pulling out of the Super Bowl while others are going all-in?” or “How effective are Super Bowl ads?”

Why Matt?

Well, he advises some of the world’s largest companies including Twitter, Bed Bath & Beyond, Overstock, Best Buy, Verizon, and more.

He can provide real-world insights from conversations he’s having with his clients around this exact topic.

Plus, as the CEO of a software company that provides a cloud-based cross-channel attribution for both digital and traditional marketing, he knows how different brands can make dramatically different decisions – or have such dramatically different answers to this question…

Should We Advertise In The Super Bowl?

Here are my questions and his responses.

Greg Jarboe: “Marketers assume that each brand may evaluate the costs and benefits of a Super Bowl ad differently for a few reasons – one being their goals and objectives for a Super Bowl ad might be different. What should a brand be asking themselves in this regard to determine whether or not a Super Bowl ad is worth it?”

Matt Voda: “It all starts with the brand’s overall strategy, and then making sure that marketing objectives are aligned with that strategy.

Importantly, even given the substantial expense of a Super Bowl ad investment, it should be examined within the broader marketing plan.

Said more simply, the Super Bowl ad should never be ‘the plan’ on its own.

Then, the questions will follow more naturally depending on the overall business strategy.

If a business has a significant market share opportunity but lacks brand awareness to grow share, then a natural marketing question should be, ‘Where can we drive the strongest awareness within our target market most efficiently and effectively?’

Through this lens, the Super Bowl investment may or may not be the best choice depending on a set of alternatives. But at least the question is tethered to the business strategy.”

How Analytics Drive Super Bowl Ads Success

Greg Jarboe: “Not every brand advertising in the Super Bowl will have sophisticated marketing analytics to measure the performance of these ads entirely. Why will brands with the best analytics make better, more informed decisions over time when it comes to making a decision like advertising on the Super Bowl?”

Matt Voda: “Investing in the Super Bowl is an extremely expensive proposition.

Viewed through a longer-term lens, the brands that understand the true impacts of their marketing investments will make consistently smarter decisions over many different marketing channels over the long term.

As a result, they’ll be more cost-effective with their investments and will grow their businesses and profitability more predictably compared to competitors with a business intelligence disadvantage.

The Super Bowl, as big a decision as it is, is just a subset of a total set of marketing and business-building decisions a brand makes and the quality of those decisions – as informed by better analytics – leads to better outcomes.

Smarter, more informed brands compete more effectively and put themselves in positions to win.”

Adopting An Agile Approach to Analytics

Greg Jarboe: “Measuring the economic impacts of a Super Bowl ad is much different, and more difficult, requiring a new breed of agile marketing analytics. What do these include and why does it matter?”

Matt Voda: “Traditionally, brands have focused only on measuring the reach of their advertising efforts.

For example, if a brand seeks to reach its target audience 4-6 times during a time period and it is determined that this reach has been achieved, brands may count that as ‘success.’

But you can quickly see that this completely ignores the business impacts of the investment. Modern brands will also seek to understand the economic impacts – the hard dollar metrics – of these decisions.

But even that isn’t enough.

To move to a thoroughly modern, agile approach to analytics requires speed, flexibility, and the ability to run faster ‘sprints’ to get to the right answers most quickly.

This agile shift requires the right tools, technologies, and investments in analytic approaches that are built for the modern era.

Traditional analytic approaches are too slow, too brittle, and serve up answers too late to be impactful.”

Why Are Brands Opting Out Of Super Bowl Advertising?

Greg Jarboe: “Many of the brands who’ve decided to pull out of this year’s Super Bowl have likely figured out how to achieve the same goal using other means, channels, and approaches. What might this look like?”

Matt Voda: “Many of them have probably figured out that there are alternative approaches to achieve the same goals; approaches that don’t require the investment premium that the Super Bowl represents.

Also, savvy brands have figured out ways to co-opt the big game event with their campaigns without having to advertise directly during the big game itself.

For some brands, this means using digital channels such as social or video to get the same impact. It allows them much more precise audience targeting while reducing wasted impressions served to audiences outside of their targets.

The Super Bowl is an extremely large shotgun. Unless you are selling a product with a very wide consumer appeal, it can be really inefficient for brands with a more narrow consumer set.”

Parting Thoughts

Greg Jarboe: “Why are brands who have run ads for years deciding to drop out this time around? And why are brands deciding to return?”

Matt Voda: “It is likely that their analytics have given them a new perspective on this decision.

Or, in some cases, the brand’s business strategy may have shifted and this has caused them to evaluate this decision through a different lens.”

Greg Jarboe: “Matt, let me ask you a question that’s been asked in the past: Is a Super Bowl ad the equivalent of lighting money of fire?”

Matt Voda: “If a brand is putting most of their budget into a Super Bowl ad, and it is not part of a more comprehensive marketing plan aligned with the business strategy, then the Magic 8-ball answer is: All signs point to yes.”

Greg Jarboe: “Finally, let me ask you this: Are Super Bowl ads worth the money or is YouTube an alternative?”

Matt Voda: “This is a matter of the goal or objective and also has to do with the company’s product or service.

For more niche products that appeal to narrower audiences, then digital video represents a compelling alternative.”

More resources:

Featured Image: Brocreative/Shutterstock

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Greg Jarboe President and co-founder at SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is president of SEO-PR, which he co-founded with Jamie O’Donnell in 2003. Their digital marketing agency has won ...

Advertising Around The Super Bowl: Q&A With A Marketing Strategist

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