In these times of deep political division, America’s great unifier is visible on the horizon. Regardless of your partisan identity, race, ethnicity, or religion, if you live in the United States, you are probably going to watch the 51st annual Super Bowl this Sunday. Heck, even if you hate football, it is a great excuse to have some friends over and gorge yourself with French onion dip and potato chips.
But what is more American than apathetic binge eating? Well, commercials of course! As if viewers were not satisfied with an hour-long, ultra-violent faceoff between the world’s top athletes, the Super Bowl is traditionally paired with interesting and unique commercials to ensure that we do not take our eyes off the television for one second.
It makes sense that a company would want to put their best advertisement out during the Super Bowl; the big game is always the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S., and based on last year’s 112 million viewers, we can expect more than a third of the entire country to be tuned in on Sunday.
(Also Read: 51 Essential Houston Facts to Get You Ready for Super Bowl LI)
With that said, the advertising industry as a whole is not what it once was. Over the past decade or so, advertisers have been forced to adapt to new consumer behaviors, and that has meant the rise of viral marketing and digital ad campaigns.
Super Bowl commercials have not been immune from these changes. Viewers simply do not want to miss any of the big commercials, and with plenty of trips to the fridge and bathroom on the average Super Bowl watcher’s schedule, companies have started using the internet as a means of distributing their Super Bowl ads.
While it is nothing new for Super Bowl spots to begin widespread circulation after the game itself, the latest phenomena has been the pre-releasing of commercials before the actual event. Many companies are now debuting their Super Bowl ads more than a week out from the game and pairing their release with a massive social media marketing campaign.
Indeed, the rise of social media has coincided with an adapted Super Bowl commercial tradition. These days, companies want people to buzzing about their commercials well before they are set to debut. In fact, a recent New York Times article highlights the fact that companies are spending even more money for online marketing on top of the cost of airing the commercial during the game.
Mary Scott, a president at sports and entertainment marketing agency UEG, told The Times that she recommends clients spend at least 25% of the cost of the Super Bowl spot on their digital marketing rollout of the commercial.
The cost of a 30-second advertisement during this year’s Super Bowl rose to an astounding $5 million, and that means companies will want to get the most value for their investment. “There’s become more of a game around the game in terms of ensuring that really pays off in a big way,” said Scott.
“The game around the game” that Scott is referring to includes massive social media exposure to the commercials in advance of the Super Bowl. For instance, a company may upload the spot to YouTube before spreading it around Facebook FB and Twitter TWTR.
Social media also gives consumers new ways to react to the advertisements. Discussion about the spots plays out online, and it does not take much for these massive companies to become trending topics. Furthermore, Alphabet Inc. GOOGL is celebrating 10 years of YouTube’s AdBlitz competition, a voting system that allows users to support their favorite spots.
Some may argue that the pre-game debuts ruin some of the fun related to watching the Super Bowl, but if I point you to our piece that highlights some of the commercials that are already out, are you seriously not going to watch them? You are, and you can check them out here: Preview The Super Bowl Commercials That Are Already Out.
Personally speaking, I am happy about this trend. I plan on having some people over for the game this year, and it is always difficult to get people to stay quiet during the commercials, especially when the drinks start getting finished. I will be checking out as many as I can beforehand.
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