Will Super Bowl Ads Help You Soar above the Competition? Or Do They Just Waste Money?

Super Bowl ads will generate millions of dollars this year. But are they worth the money?

A scientist in a lab with angel wings

This year’s Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial jokes that, every time a VW hits 100,000 miles, a German engineer gets a pair of wings.

We are only a few days away from Super Bowl XLVIII and what is shaping up to be a good game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. While some of us are watching the game to, you know, actually watch football, many of us are most looking forward to what happens off the field in the annual slate of Super Bowl commercials.

Some are funny. Some are moving. Some just miss the mark. Many are likely to be talked about the next day, and all of them cost a pretty penny (the average price for a 30-second slot this year? Four million dollars.) This leads me to my question: Are these ads worth the money?

In other words, is there some lesson we can learn here about what gets the best results when it comes to your marketing and advertising budget? Let’s take a look.

It’s All about Brand Recognition

Generally, advertisers aren’t trying to make you buy their products right then and there. The goal is brand recognition, putting yet another instance of their brand in your memory so that you’ll recognize this particular name over its competitors when you are ready to buy something.

Since brand recognition is incredibly powerful, spending money to earn it seems reasonable, right? Well, about that: a study performed by Nielsen following last year’s Super Bowl found that viewers could recall the brand name featured in a commercial less than 14 percent of the time.

Other studies have drawn similar conclusions — that Super Bowl commercials have little to no tangible impact on brand recognition and customer loyalty.

And to those who would argue that Super Bowl commercials are great at introducing new products to a mass audience and generating crucial exposure, I’d argue that the schedule has become so cluttered and overwhelming that a company has to practically dominate the water-cooler conversation after the game to stand out — and that’s not an easy task.

What’s the Alternative for Small Business?

Super Bowl ads may not generate the kind of return that executives want, and despite their popularity, they may not represent the best way to generate lasting brand recognition and loyalty.

Perhaps their money would be better invested in the same, proven way smaller businesses use to successfully promote themselves today: a great website, strong online presence, an online marketing strategy and a dedicated social media campaign to interact with and engage with an audience.

Indeed, that trend is steadily taking over. In fact, successful Super Bowl ads this year probably owe a lot to social media: 61 percent of respondents to one survey said they planned on sharing and talking about commercials on social media during the game.

You may not be able (or willing) to buy a pricey primetime ad slot in the Super Bowl for your business, but as it turns out, that’s okay — and it might actually be a good thing. Because building up a strong online presence and dedicating yourself to social media, content marketing, blogging, and other digital channels can prove much better ROI.

It is, in a word, super.


About Jason

Jason loves finding creative ways to solve client problems, and he’s always looking for ways to help clients use technology to get more done while building up the bottom line. Don’t ask this guy to read the manual; he believes technology should be intuitive, and you shouldn’t need to follow directions to get it right. This belief comes in handy when he’s demanding the best user experience for our clients (not so much when putting together Ikea desks). To be happy, all Jason really needs is time with his family: wife, Shawndee, and kids Isaac, Juliette, James and Mary Rose — but a good cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at Savage’s wouldn’t hurt.

See more articles from Jason Lovoy

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