Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Bowl Advertising Is A Tricky Play

Advertisers will shell out $4 million for each 30-second spot run during the broadcast of the Super Bowl game the Sunday after next.

Nearly 30% of Americans won’t be watching, and among the 70% who are, if even for a glimpse while socializing and eating, the ads have no guarantee they won’t be a turn-off in general, something most advertising enthusiasts, especially males, still fail to factor in.

Past studies show that nearly 3-in-4 viewers of the game consider the ads as entertainment but that doesn’t mean they all view them favorably.  Far too many advertisers still fail to consider the ratio of people turned off by ads.

Even simple awareness generated for the brands that advertise, the most superficial of metrics, is only achieved among less than 17% of the game’s viewers.  This is far less than the 27% who will watch at a party specific to the event.

The ads have a turn off ratio of 5-to-1 compared to 8.4% of viewers who will actually buy products or services from those who advertise during the game.  More than double that percentage wish the advertisers would just save their money and pass the savings to them.

More than 1-in-5 viewers of the game have a negative reaction to the ads because they bother them, interrupt the game and make it last too long.

Advertising in general now has a negative return on investment.

There are simply many more effective, credible and efficient ways to reach consumers that don’t involve “yelling” at them, a description many marketing professionals give to advertising.

Masterful marketing these days is “low intensity,” a fact guaranteed to shed “old-schoolers” wedded to advertising for the perceived ego-rush it is guaranteed to deliver to the advertiser.

Super Bowl ads are more than eleven times the cost they were in the mid-1980s when a cooperative marketing group I was part of considered placing one when I was involved in marketing Alaska for visitor-centric economic and cultural development.

Forced to choose an element that is most important about the game, just as many viewers select “getting together with friends” and the half time show as they do the commercials.

Over the last 16 years, studies by Gallup and others measuring the  interest among viewers in the actual game has remained steady at around 46% while the percentage interested in the commercials has fallen by nearly a third.  Part of the reason is that people are now inundated by nearly 10,000 advertising messages a day.

Consumers have just tuned out, even during the Super Bowl where advertising is such a big part of the spectacle, especially in the 7.4 million households considered affluent.  But this phenomena isn’t germane just to advertising on traditional media.

Online advertising for newspapers fell off the cliff in the mid-2000s, at about the time print ads did.  Experts understand that news media wasn’t ever about the news.  It has always been about collecting a “community” of affiliated consumers and then selling ads to those trying reach that community.

Today, those “communities of affinity” have been sliced into smaller and smaller pieces of the pie, by the proliferation of places these consumers can gather, including followers of this blog which I have and never intend to subject to advertising.

In fact, longitudinal meta-analysis shows that the tipping point in the effectiveness of advertising may have been 1984, the year our group in Alaska backed away from an ad during the Super Bowl.   Yet even today in mediums such as television, where audience growth is stagnant, ad spending continues to grow.

Greed, as much as streaming, will eventually spell doom for television too.

Even if advertisers experience a broadly felt epiphany tomorrow and begin to dial back on use of this element of marketing, as well as measuring the turn-off metrics of advertising, the nature of the beast is that advertising would continue to kill the very things it loves.

And one day, that may be the Super Bowl itself!

Until then, the only advertisers who seem to clean up on the event are those in television sales, which 1-in-10 Americans will buy leading up to the game, a third of all those who will buy a television this year.

The major factor in those decisions?  Price.

Some studies estimate hosting the big game can add as much as $264 million to a metro-wide economy but the models are not so good at netting out the impact the game dislocates.

Year-before and year-after sales tax collection comparisons of communities hosting past Super Bowls reveal that the Super Bowl dislocates as much economic activity as it creates.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something taxpayers are likely to learn from politicians or sports-advertising-reliant news media or enthusiasts, you know, the ones likely to refer to themselves as heavy hitters (with someone else’s money.)

The real winner may be the national economy which reaps $11 billion in game-related consumption but apparently even that is not enough to give it a boost.  Anecdotal events never are, even at the local level, a lesson yet to be learned by far too many community marketing organizations.

Personally I would have preferred to see the Pats in the Super Bowl against the 49ers, my coastal favorites for many years.  It is my youngest grandson who is heartbroken the Panthers won’t be playing, Carolina’s most ardent fan west of the Rockies.

But alas, go Hawks, they are my native Idaho’s team.

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