I used to love Super Bowl ads. But, as the partner of a marketing firm in 2018, I can barely tolerate them now.
Sure, some are quite clever. Memorable, even. And yes, I’ll watch them on Sunday. But the truth is, I see through them now. Whereas at one point doing a SB ad was the pinnacle of being an Ad guy, today I realize that there’s more to a :30 second spot than to flex creative muscle.
What matters more is results. And unless you’ve got the budget for a long-term campaign, Super Bowl or not, there are better ways to spend that money.
Granted, most of the brands advertising Sunday are so well known that they don’t rely on any ROI from running these spots, and that it IS all about their agencies flexing creative muscle. And yay for us—we get entertained. But in general, I’ve kinda grown out of TV as a platform for the business of advertising.
Each commercial you see on Sunday will cost $5 million per :30 seconds. That doesn’t include the costs associated with creating and producing the spots, or the talent that appears in them ($$). But this cost isn’t new. Of all the traditional mainstream ad channels (radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, TV, etc.), pound-for-pound TV was always most expensive.
I got out of writing traditional advertising in the late 00s. When I compared results associated with that media versus burgeoning new media, it just didn’t make sense. Digital looked to be so much more profitable, especially when social media came online.
So while traditional agencies were scrambling for the traditional stuff, with the expensive media they’d mark up, I began focusing on results from tight, omni-channel branding, websites and SEO, and social media. And it worked.
It worked so well, in fact, that my current agency doesn’t even mess with traditional media. Because traditional media is expensive, tough to measure, and lacks legacy.
Plus, digital actually works. At a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertising, and with measurement tools, and the ability to change on the fly, and the content lives forever (particularly important to SEO.)
Create, produce, and air a TV spot and you enjoy a short-term run that costs $ every time it airs. When it’s over, it goes away. Sure, it can live on YouTube today, but few people besides copywriters and art directors troll YouTube for TV commercials. And yes, it can live on your website for your visitors to watch, but if there’s even one thing that changes about your company that makes your ad irrelevant, the run is over.
No, I’ve learned that for almost every client I work with, the investment in branding and digital is a far better spend than TV, outdoor, radio, and the like. Granted, my clients don’t have Super Bowl advertising budgets, but even if they did I’d convince them to double down on digital instead.
I hate that so many people see Super Bowl commercials as anything more than entertainment. Effective advertising means results.
Enjoy the show.
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