Super Bowl sponsors have a new rationale for the record $4 million they’re spending on some 30-second spots this year: viewers of the most-watched U.S. TV event will turn their ads into Internet hits.
“That is absolutely a factor in the cost of the ads,” Les Moonves, CBS Corp. CEO, told Bloomberg. “The advertisers expect they’ll get a nice bump online, so it’s well worth the increase.”
The 2/3 championship, which draws more than 111 million viewers here, offers marketers a rare chance to make big leaps online, whether it’s increasing Twitter followers or Facebook fans. Super Bowl advertisers bank on an extended online audience to justify and add value to their costly TV buys, Rob Norman, chief digital officer of GroupM, told Bloomberg. “More than ever, it’s mandatory to stretch.”
Companies are paying CBS an average of $3.75 million for 30-second Super Bowl spots, an increase of 7.1% from a year earlier and the most expensive ad rate in U.S. media, according to Kantar Media. Some paid more than $4 million, Moonves said in an interview.
Super Bowl rates have risen about 60% over the past decade, underscoring the value marketers place on reaching the largest TV audience. Last year’s game, with 78 commercials, produced ad sales of $262.5 million, says Kantar Media.
Coca-Cola, for example, began streaming the first part of a Super Bowl ad last week. It shows three groups, cowboys, showgirls and “badlanders,” racing across a desert to reach a bottle of Coke. Viewers can vote on who they want to win through the end of the game using the website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and others. They can vote against a group by clicking “sabotage” buttons on the contest site. The winning contingent shows up in the ad spot right after the game.
“We’re all trying to get a better return on our investment, and digital is now a necessary part of that strategy,” Pio Schunker, a senior vice president of marketing for Coca-Cola’s North America division, said in an interview.
After last year’s game, Coke discovered the online audience for its ads was larger than anticipated. The company had to add servers to handle the traffic.
Pepsi, a regular Super Bowl advertiser, is running an online contest to see which fan-made commercial for its Doritos brand should air during the game. The winner also gets to join director Michael Bay on the set of the next Transformers film as an “unpaid independent contractor.”
For the first time this year, Twitter will let advertisers target users with sponsored tweets right after their Super Bowl commercials run. People can vote for their favorite ad within the tweet itself.
Mercedes-Benz is streaming five teasers online ahead of its Super Bowl spot, including one featuring model Kate Upton that already has more than 5.3 million views.
Companies that advertise during the Super Bowl generate a 20% spike in web traffic on the day of the game, along with a higher average online audience in the week, according to Adobe Systems.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s interesting to note that at these high rates, more and more advertisers are going with contests for ads that viewers create just to save budget. Bottom line, though, the Super Bowl is becoming a major launchpad to send viewers online and immerse themselves with brands and products via social media, contests, games, etc. If that didn’t translate to increased revenues, we’d probably not see the rates keep going up with this big game—it’s supply and demand economics.