According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people tuned in to the 2017 Super Bowl. The biggest television event of the year, millions also stream the game and get the play-by-play through social media and digital news.
This year, NBC is asking for more than $5 million for a 30-second ad spot, and they’re attempting to draw interest from brands through bundling with the Winter Olympics. It will be interesting to see which brands come back, who opts out, and how brands use conversational marketing to make a business impact with their campaigns.
Here are our five predictions for how brands will approach their ads.
1. Six-Second Formats Are the Ads to Watch
One of the biggest things to look out for is how brands will use the new six-second formats. Fox Sports originally brought the short-form format to TV during NFL, baseball, and soccer games in 2017. M&M’s was one of the first brands to use it so far this year. The candy company released 15 and six-second spots to introduce Danny Devito as the star of its Super Bowl ad. Like M&Ms, we can expect to see many brands combine both long-form and short-form content for storytelling at this year’s game.
2. Social Messages Will Be a Popular Theme
In 2017, the contentious political environment caused many brands to embrace social messages with their Super Bowl campaigns. With Airbnb’s “we accept” ad, the showed its support for refugees. Meanwhile, Audi promoted female empowerment with an ad about a female race car driver.
Advertising tends to reflect culture, so political and social messages will likely continue. For example, Budweiser announced it parted ways with its iconic Clydesdales for this year’s ad. Instead, the brand is focusing its message on its disaster relief efforts in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, and California.
3. Brands Will Embrace Live Video (Again)
Live content was a big trend last year. As a play on the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan, Snickers intentionally messed up its live ad, then jokingly blamed it on hungry production staff in a follow-up video. For another take on live video, Hyundai created virtual visits between overseas military members and their families in a virtual reality room.
Skittles has already revealed it is planning a live ad for this year. There are four versions of a Skittles ad in the works. The final one will be shown to one lucky fan, and viewers can watch his reaction when the brand streams it live on Facebook.
4. Marketers Will Focus More on Business Goals
To prepare brands for this year’s game, NBC analyzed ads from the last four Super Bowls across 575 different variables. NBC assessed not only creative appeal, but also social media engagement and the ad’s impact on brand searches. With these findings, NBC helped brands strategize their creative for 2018.
NBC’s insights included:
- Creative Appeal: Just because an advertiser scored high on creative appeal (based on USA Today Ad Meter ranking), that didn’t necessarily translate into strong performance for search and social.
- Ad Length: 60-second spots outperformed other content lengths in most key metrics.
- Celebrities: Other than driving social conversation, celebrities had a slight negative or no material impact on ad performance.
- Social Messages: Ads that promoted social causes performed better in all metrics except search.
The study indicates an industry-wide shift toward business goals and accountability.
Additionally, the growing importance of online video changes how marketers measure their campaigns. Now, ads are often released weeks in advance to generate buzz. This means brands are under increased pressure to measure their multifaceted campaigns in a unified way. That’s tough to do.
While there are many options in digital video for sales attribution, brands are somewhat limited when it comes to linear TV. Plus, digital video metrics are evolving. Once focused on views and clicks, marketers have progressed their definitions and now consider business results like brand sentiment, purchase intent, and even sales as digital video KPIs. We can expect to see demand for these types of business metrics to carry over to the awareness-oriented world of the Super Bowl.
5. Open Data Platforms Will Become More Important
Whether they invest in a TV ad buy or digital video (or both) for the Super Bowl, brands want to make a long-term impact through their campaigns. They must be able to attribute their ads to business results, and that means creating more unique consumer journeys for engaged viewers.
As brands become more advanced and achieve a holistic view of their customer data, they’ll want to leverage those insights for personalized campaigns that engage consumers beyond the Super Bowl. With this becoming a bigger priority, brands will have less tolerance for walled gardens like Facebook or Google. Open platforms like ViralGains, which allow consumer data to flow freely back to the advertiser, will become increasingly important to brands for this reason.
From humorous, influencer-driven content to inspiring social messages, we can expect to see a variety of content from brands as they attempt to stand out with their ads. We can also anticipate many multi-channel efforts and digital tie-ins as brands work to capture engagement from digital audiences. But the biggest trend is the strategy that happens behind the scenes. This year, and for years to come, brands will work harder than ever to bridge the gap between ad spend and business impact — not just for the Super Bowl, but across all of their campaigns.
If you’d like to learn more about how our open platform can help you make the most of your campaigns, please email us to set up a meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org.