Why we really watch the Super Bowl
This year’s Super Bowl was a battle to remember, both on and off the field. Not only did the television event feature a match off between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, but it also spurred a battle between advertisers hoping to score big.
I’m going to be honest—I don’t watch the Super Bowl for the football. In all reality, I could care less who wins (sorry diehard fans). The only reason I tune into the game is for the commercials. And man, do those advertisers put on a show for us. Advertisers gear up months in advance, preparing their brands’ spot to beat out all the others. But what’s their motivation? I think the stats below have something to do with it.
The simple facts:
- More than 111 million viewers were expected to watch the Super Bowl this year.
- Advertisers paid an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second commercial.
- According to Nielsen, 51% of people surveyed said they watch the Super Bowl for the commercials (just like me!)
- Nielsen also revealed that 2/3 of TV viewers use their smartphones or tablets to text, tweet, or post to Facebook while watching TV.
With 111 million viewers watching and $3.5 million spent, it’s no wonder advertisers put pressure on themselves to create the most coveted spot. The ads must incorporate originality, creativity, humor, celebrities, and more, all while pulling on a viewer’s heartstrings. With such high expectations set before them, advertisers compete with one another to see who will be awarded fan favorite. Interestingly, the way we measure the best Super Bowl ad isn’t what it used to be.
It is true that USA Today still hosts their annual Super Bowl admeter and that generates a lot of traffic, along with other numerous post-Super Bowl ad critiques. However, if we think like an advertiser or marketer would, we know that our goal isn’t to have a viewer simply vote for their favorite ad.
We want to capitalize on the fact that two-thirds of viewers will be texting, tweeting and posting to Facebook while they’re watching the Super Bowl. Thus, advertisers have developed spots that will allow viewers to interact with one another. This year, commercials will include hashtags, QR codes, links and other sharing functions so that viewers can easily transfer the conversation from the TV screen to another screen. Advertisers hope that the conversation will start before kickoff and carry on even after the game has ended.
Last year’s Super Bowl was one of the first years where advertisers leaked the commercials. Internet users were granted access to sneak-peeks and full version commercials before the game rolled around. Seeing as how the 2011 Super Bowl was named the most watched TV show ever (at the time), complete with 111 million viewers, leaking the ads proved to be wildly successful. In fact, the most notable ad from last year, Volkswagen’s “The Force”, has close to 50 million views on YouTube. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when advertisers leaked the ads again this year; they hoped to garner as much pre-game action as they did last year.
By releasing teasers and then full-cut versions, Super Bowl ads overwhelmed social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more. Viewers were privy to watching all the ads early and initiated dialogue about which ones already stood out as favorites.
So how did the advertisers fare? Considering how I wrote this entire article last Friday, two whole days before the whistle was blown, is proof that the advertisers succeeded.
Today, Super Bowl ads are no longer a 30-second spot that flashes before a fan’s eyes. Instead, companies have created a new form of advertisements: ones that are interactive, worth sharing with others, and extend the conversation from the TV screen to another digital screen. So pat yourself on the back Super Bowl ads: mission accomplished.
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