In football, the pinnacle that a team can reach is winning the Super Bowl.
Marketers also have a pinnacle. It also happens to be the Super Bowl. Having your product run a commercial spot in the big game is a huge moment.
That said, is it worth it?
When it comes to branding and exposure, nothing beats the Super Bowl. The NFL gets over 100 million viewers in the US to watch their game each year. That is not even counting international viewers. This year a :30 spot goes for $5.5 million and for the right companies, is a total bargain. However, if a company is looking to see an immediate return on its investment, there are much better places they could be looking.
For instance, say you were selling a vacuum on a Super Bowl commercial and you needed an immediate return on investment. The company would have to sell 18,394 thousand vacuums (from a half minute ad) at $299.00 to just pay for the media buy. That is not even counting the money spent on creative worthy of a Super Bowl. Then you take away cost of goods (say $150.00) and you now must sell 36,789 thousand units just to break even. For a lot of companies, that’s their entire year’s sales in a good year.
TV advertising has traditionally been an exclusive club with a very high initiation fee. Advertising in the Super Bowl has been the domain of the Fords, Doritos, Bud Lights and the Tides of the world. They are not trying to sell product, so much as build brand awareness. That is fantastic if you have hundreds of millions of dollars burning a hole in your pocket.
But outside the Super Bowl brand bubble, smart companies are using television advertising not just to brand, but to sell. This includes companies of all sizes, from just starting out to big brands. They are using TV as a performance channel because they are leveraging data & technology in media planning and buying to blow the doors off this exclusive club.
In other words, a performance media model where the money you are spending on media is directly attributable to the sales you make for the money you spent on that media.
But there is a catch! With this return-on-investment model, brand awareness is not enough for an immediate ROI. How you feel about a company or a product is not the same as “I want this product now because you have convinced me it’s the answer to my problem now.” In order to achieve an immediate ROI, your message must be structured completely different with an entirely different strategy.
The real questions you have to ask yourself are how are you going to explain what your product does? Why is it the best solution? Can we demonstrate how it works so customers can see for themselves? Are we able to incorporate validation from people who have actually experienced our product so other people believe it? Moreover, what is the offer we are going to make so they act now in order to see that return-on-investment?
That is a lot you would have to pack into a :30 commercial. The truth is, it is just not possible, short of hiring legendary pitchman and fast talker John Moschitta. You might be able to get one or two ideas in. But still nowhere near enough to create a message that can generate an immediate return-on-investment.
Above all, that is where a performance model wins hands down. Firstly, media is purchased based on outcomes, not exposure. Secondly, the message you construct and the story you tell is more comprehensive, so the action the consumer takes is immediate. That is only possible when you have the time to tell your story. Therefore performance–based media advertising is built on longer formats, like the infomercial, competitive rates and strategic media plans designed to launch, build and scale products and businesses.
When you combine that with data, analytics, optimization tools and media buying strategies, you have a totally different model than the traditional brand awareness campaigns you see in and around the Super Bowl. In conclusion, you get a leveling of the playing field for companies who cannot out spend the big spenders. The end result is you are either protecting your turf playing defense, or you are building momentum playing offense with a sophisticated game plan designed to score a lot and win!
This is why you are seeing companies like Blink take on and win over bigger brands like ADT and Brinks. Hoover take away market share from Shark/Ninja and Dyson, despite those brands having significantly bigger budgets. Snow Joe has become the most preferred emerging snow blower brand over traditional companies like Craftsman, Ego and Toro.
Why? They deploy a problem–solving, benefit–based selling message in longer formats and performance based media strategies to turn the tables and profitably become the new players.