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Can marketers reduce Super Bowl ad cost through YouTube?

Super Bowl commercials have been a staple of the biggest event in American sports for over 50 years. Companies spend millions of dollars on 30-second spots during the broadcast, and the commercials have become just as much a part of the event as the actual game. But are these commercials worth the investment? And can brands reduce their Super Bowl ad cost through other means?

Well, it depends on how you measure your results. 

An event with exceptional reach

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched TV events on the planet. With an average of 106 million viewers, brands have the potential to reach a massive audience. This kind of reach is unparalleled in today's fragmented media landscape and offers immediate exposure to a huge audience. What other ad platform provides such immediate exposure to a huge number of viewers across the entire world?

A 30-second Super Bowl ad is a way for advertisers to enter the national conversation, make an impact on consumer consciousness, and in many cases, introduce new products or services. So, if impressions and awareness are the key metrics for advertisers, Super Bowl ads are likely a good investment.

Huge audience = more sales?

If advertisers are spending a lot of money, they’d naturally expect to see some sort of return.


Super Bowl 2010

While Super Bowl ads do lead to an increase in impressions and awareness, advertisers shouldn't expect a sudden increase in sales - but rather a spike in online searches. Linli Xu, an assistant professor at the Carlson School, said the value of buying a Super Bowl ad depends on what a brand hopes to achieve.

“Are these ads worth the big price tags? It all depends on the company’s strategy. Previous research shows there really isn’t a boost in sales after Super Bowl ads air, but there are immediate spikes in online searches. Paying big money for the commercial could help a firm reach its goal of increasing brand awareness or staying connected with its customers.” 

So, if brands are looking for an increase in brand awareness and traffic, it seems like going big on Super Bowl ad cost could be worth it. However, when measured purely against an immediate sales response, the value of the ad may not be justified by its expense. 

We're gonna need a bigger strategy

To maximise their impact, Super Bowl advertisements need to be treated as a complete campaign, incorporating pre-game, in-game, and post-game support and promotion. Advertisers leverage their Super Bowl commercials to gain recognition, create excitement, and start discussion on the day of the event. Smart advertisers kick off the process early on social media and continue the effort after the game for a few weeks to attain maximum exposure.

Jed Meyer, Senior Vice President, Media Domain, at Kantar says that: “While having a spot in the Super Bowl now costs about $7 million per 30 seconds, the real media value in Big Game advertising comes from how the spot is amplified across a variety of channels.“

“While having that hero anchor and TV spot still is incredibly valuable and effective, the real impact lies in how those hero campaigns utilise more experiential and creative social media tactics to resonate with what’s happening socially and culturally. Those tactics get consumers to continue engaging with that campaign for days and weeks following the Super Bowl and drive additional ROI for the campaign.”

Can you really measure the impact of Super Bowl ads?

It's difficult to determine the exact sales resulting from a Super Bowl commercial, but consistent quality, positive word-of-mouth, and good reviews all play a role in driving sales well after the event. The increased brand awareness created by a Super Bowl ad has a lasting impact that can't always be directly tied to a specific commercial.


Super Bowl 2022

The key to achieving this increased brand awareness is that the Super Bowl is the one advertising event that assures the commercials are being watched and enjoyed. We’ve all remembered and talked about ads long after they were first shown - they’ve become a cultural phenomenon that people get excited about every year. 

Advertisers can determine the success of their campaigns by using metrics like their share of searches on Google and Amazon, as well as social media impressions and shares. But even with these metrics it’s difficult to measure the exact impact of a Super Bowl ad, and especially hard to accurately credit any future sales to one commercial.

YouTube and the rise of Connected TVs

As we get ready for this year’s Super Bowl, it’s important to remember that other platforms like YouTube can also offer an opportunity for getting in front of a huge number of people, including new audiences that traditional ads don’t reach. To target high-quality demographics, particularly young viewers, advertisers must consider using YouTube and other Connected TV platforms.

There has been a recent shift from traditional TV to Connected TV (CTV). Video streaming is now the favoured method of content consumption. Leichtman Research Group estimates that in the United States, 87% of TV households own at least one device that allows for Internet connectivity on their TVs, including smart TVs, standalone streaming devices like  Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, or Apple TV, and connected video game systems.

Advertisers should consider redirecting a portion of their TV budget to YouTube and use Google's Reach Planner to maximise the reach for their investment. As brands look for ways to increase their exposure during popular sports events like the Super Bowl, they’ll need to use CTV platforms to run ads and target people who are watching from their home. 

In early 2021, Special K ran a YouTube campaign promoting healthy habits and included Connected TV (CTV) Ads. The campaign revealed that 31% of the time the YouTube CTV ad played, multiple people aged 18 and over were watching it together, highlighting the potential reach of these campaigns.

But what makes YouTube better for Super Bowl ad cost?

The ability to track the results of ads on YouTube allows big advertisers to quickly evaluate the impact of their video ads on key metrics, such as brand recognition, consideration, favourability, and purchase intent. They also have way more control over advertising costs, rather than paying millions of dollars for a 30-second spot. 


Super Bowl 2020

The cost of Super Bowl advertising can be challenging for smaller businesses that may not have the budget to compete with larger companies for ad space. YouTube gives them the opportunity to get their name out there before, during and after this big event without having to spend millions. 

But what does this all mean for advertisers?

At the end of the day, Super Bowl ads are mostly about product recognition, entertainment and agency recognition. It’s never been more crucial to be the consumer favourite and gain compliments.  This raises the question: Are Super Bowl ads simply a vanity play for well-known brands? 

Ultimately, the value of Super Bowl advertising depends on a company's goals, budget, and target audience. For some companies, the investment can pay off in increased brand recognition, while for others it may not be a good use of their marketing budget. Before committing to a Super Bowl commercial, companies should carefully consider the potential of platforms like YouTube.

What do you think to this idea for moving Super Bowl ad cost for a multiscreen audience? Get in touch and let us know. See more content from seventy7, including our Human Copywriter vs Robot Writer series.

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