February 10, 2020
Super Bowl Ads in the Age of Precise Targeting
By Max Ley

To get a 30 second spot during this year’s Super Bowl, advertisers had to pay a minimum of $5 million.  This number only includes the spot, and does not cover production expenses, publicity, and any other costs involved with the buy.  This is a massive sum for the amount of time it gets a brand, and while it does guarantee exceptional reach, it can also be difficult to get right. A 2017 Communicus study showed that only 33% of Super Bowl viewers recalled any of the ads they had seen.  

Tim Calkins, a professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, described the challenge of Super Bowl ads while speaking on the 2020 game’s many pop culture references. “You have to appeal to such a wide group,” he said.  “Most advertising runs in very targeted settings. You only really need to resonate with a certain group, and that group probably knows the characters and the references and jokes. The Super Bowl is different. [There are] so many people watching it with such scrutiny.”

Targetability is a buzzword that gets used a lot as a key in today’s competition for consumer attention because of the amount of branded messages consumers are exposed to (4,000-10,000 per day from a 2015 Red Crow Marketing Study).  Consumers are used to seeing what they want, when they want, where they want.  With over 100 million viewers watching the same Super Bowl ad, it’s easy to see why it’s so hard to nail it.

There are many small avenues brands can take in addition to TV to maximize the ROI on their Super Bowl campaigns.  For instance, GlassView can help with TV-synced mobile delivery during the game. 85% of viewers of the game are on their phones during the Super Bowl, and they are highly engaged during this period.  In fact, during the 2018 Super Bowl, time in-app (measured by how long a consumer’s app was open during each hour of the game) remained at over 8.5 minutes on average, peaking at 9.61 minutes during the halftime show.  

Not only are consumers spending a lot of time in their apps, but they are also constantly opening them.  During the game, users launched social network apps an average of 4.6 times, followed by sports apps 3.5 times and news apps 2.3 times.  This goes to show that consumers are continuously opening their phones, giving brands many opportunities to reach them. These are valuable environments to deliver ads.

Perhaps most importantly, consumers are more receptive to ads while watching TV than they are while doing almost any other activity.  Studies show that 59% of U.S. adults are receptive to mobile ads while watching TV, a higher number than when they are lying in bed before sleep (51%), eating a meal (36%), shopping (25%) and running errands.

In the age of omnichannel marketing, these statistics emphasize how brands are missing an opportunity for greater engagement and brand recall by not heavying up their mobile delivery during the Super Bowl and other heavily viewed linear TV events.  Mass awareness is usually the key focus for linear TV ads, but a blended plan is the true key to maximizing ROI.