I’ve done a number of Super Bowl ads.   And that is the best advertising of the year.  That is when people realize they’re going to be compared directly against other ads.

Jerry Seinfeld

Super Bow lXLIX  Super Bowl ads have changed a lot over the years and I expect this year to be no different.   One of the things that makes that Super Bowl so attractive to advertisers is that sports in general – and big time, championship games in particular – are typically viewed live and in real time. This fact, in a world of DVR’s,  On-Demand viewing and online streaming,  means that advertisers can be more assured that their commercials will actually be seen by the viewing audience,  resulting in a much higher ROI for their marketing investment.   Of course, the hype that always surrounds the ads that appear on the Super Bowl certainly helps.

For a prime example, of how TV commercials have evolved into so much more one needs only to look at Allstate Insurance’s strategy during the most recent Sugar Bowl.   For those who may not know, the Sugar Bowl acted as one of this year’s semi-final games in the inaugural College Football Playoff, with Ohio State facing off against Alabama. Needless to say, there was a large audience expected to watch the game live. Allstate aired a total of eight ads during the game.   The first of which, showed their character “Mayhem” breaking into a couple’s home that was supposedly at the game.   The remaining ads showed Mayhem auctioning off items from this house on a website (designed specifically for the sale) and live-tweeting updates on the sale via Twitter.   One of the more noteworthy aspects of this more modern ad strategy is the element of acknowledging that many viewers are looking at multiple screens, or at least have them nearby, while watching television.

If a marketer can get you to engage in some way with the content of the ad then they can be more assured that the ad will make a real impression on the viewer.   The days of “passive” advertising are over. In the Allstate example, we have viewers being “pushed” to a website and providing a way for them to interact with the content. In essence, the viewer even becomes part of the commercial itself. T  he Twitter aspect also allows for viewer engagement and interaction with the “storyline” of the series of ads.   Allstate reported that the website they created received 3 to 4 times as many hits in the moments following the ad as the typical retail site would receive with a traditional TV campaign.*1

One other noteworthy difference of modern day Super Bowl commercials, as compared to those of just a few years ago: The majority of advertisers release content – oftentimes the commercial itself – in the weeks and days preceding the game, via YouTube or their own website. In 2014, 75% of Super Bowl advertisers released content before the actual game.   Why did they do this?   Well, those that did release content earlier recognized 175% higher viewership compared to those who released on game day.*2   More eyes on the content results in more effective ad results and more dollars for the advertiser!   Of course, this approach wasn’t even possible a mere 10 years ago.

So, while watching the big game on Sunday, enjoy the commercials!   Think about how they’ve changed over the years.   What strikes you about the change?   Is there anything you think that was particularly effective?   Were they entertaining?   What would someone think of them who might have suddenly been dropped into 2015 from 20 years ago?   How might they be different five, ten, or twenty years from now?

~ Bud Sanders

*1 //blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/01/02/allstates-sugar-bowl-ad-push-generates-online-buzz/

*2 //www.inc.com/graham-winfrey/8-facts-every-brand-should-know-about-the-superbowl.html?cid=sf01001