But do Super Bowl ads even WORK?

Let’s consider a few facts here:

A lot of the data that is being thrown around in marketing articles is pretty shady (surprise surprise). One article I read used this Genesis Media claim to argue that the Super Bowl wasn’t worth it: “90 percent of respondents said that they were unlikely to buy something tied to a Super Bowl ad; and roughly 75 percent of respondents said they couldn’t remember ads from last year.”

Except those aren’t useful metrics because they are claimed behaviour. I’d be surprised if normal TV or digital video fared much better on those questions anyway. Also Genesis Media sell programmatic video. Of course digital vendors are going to want to take the “controversial” angle that TV is dead and thus the Superbowl is extra dead.

Then there’s spot commentary stuff like social media analysis by Crimson Hexagon or ad testing data by tools such as Unruly. It’s nice to have this data because it might start to give you an inkling of how different ads performed against each other. But they’re undeniably soft metrics. As far as I know social media buzz and engagement hasn’t been linked to sales as of yet (although aiming for “fame” has) and ad pretesting is very hit and miss.

 
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On the other hand, we do know that the super bowl CPM (cost to reach 1,000 viewers) sits at around $50 if we ignore the non-US citizens watching the game. The CPM of US cable is predicted to be about $17.49. Sure the Superbowl is more expensive but it’s not that much more expensive. And it comes with undeniable fame building potential considering that everyone in the States is watching the same ad at once and that everyone is leaning in to be entertained.

Let’s face it the big brands that are taking part might be the only ones who have access to proper data and they’ll most likely guard it pretty closely. But here’s the ringer. There are only two legit Super Bowl studies that I came across: One for cinema launches, one for beverages.

Both of them defy the conventional wisdom that Super Bowl ads aren’t worth it.

They use an interesting fact as the starting point of their analysis: Cities that have a team playing in the finals are far more likely to watch the game than other cities. So you can actually conduct natural experiments and compare sales uplifts in cities with skin in the game vs non-participant cities.

  • For movies: “The average additional opening-weekend revenue generated by a Super Bowl ad amounted to $8.4 million, at a time when the average ad cost about $3 million.”
     

  • For beer: “One beer manufacturer earns almost $100 million more because of its ads -- far more than what the ads cost."

And that’s why you should just lean back and Taste The Rainbow.

~Have a read of Bloomberg article on these studies here~