Facebook and YouTube Seek Ways to Capitalize on Super Bowl Ad Excitement: Why Join the Party When you can Host your Own?

Image of a YouTube sign and a Facebook "Like" symbol

Most people know that a Super Bowl ad comes with a hefty price tag that only some of the largest brands can stomach. In 2014, a 30-second spot cost around 4 million dollars. This price tag can be attributed in part to the significant audience that watches the game. In 2014, about 111 million people tuned in, making it the most watched event ever in the United States.

Another attractive reason to shell out the marketing dollars for a spot in the Super Bowl is that it’s one of those rare events where people actually tune in for the ads. In fact, some studies that have been conducted suggest that upwards of 50 percent of viewers tune into the game for the ads or look forward to the ads more than the game. There are some other ways that sentiments related to consumers interest in Super Bowls ads are expressed, but the bottom line is that marketers not only have a large audience during the game, but they also have one that’s genuinely interested in what they have to say in many cases.

The Super Bowl is not just an opportunity for NBC (the television network that won the rights to the big game this year) to cash in on the sale of advertising spots, but also a big opportunity for many social media platforms. An article in Advertising Age notes that this year Facebook will offer marketers the opportunity to purchase ads targeted at individuals who the organization has designated as its Super Bowl audience based on an analysis of keywords, actions, and past behavior on the social media network that suggest a level of interest in the Super Bowl and related content.

Additionally, topics and individuals related to the Super Bowl that popup on Facebook will be added to the audience and its related data in near real time. This will allow agile marketers to respond to events that people are talking about related to the game soon after they are first getting noticed (e.g. think about how Oreo used the black out last year during the game a few years back to generate buzz for the brand).

For many organizations interested in getting in on the excitement of the Super Bowl, but not wanting to spend millions of dollars on an advertisement on television, marketing on Facebook to their Super Bowl audience might seem like an attractive option. For NBC or any other future network that wins the rights to show the Super Bowl, the potentially scary thought is what happens if some marketer(s) decide that multiple Super Bowl ads on a platform such as Facebook offer them a more efficient spend compared to buying a 30 second television spot.

YouTube, which has become a central hub for the watching and re-watching of Super Bowl ads during and after the game is also taking an interesting approach to capitalizing on the excitement and large audience that is a part of the Super Bowl. An interesting article in Bloomberg Businessweek discusses YouTube’s plan to produce and stream live during the game its own Super Bowl halftime show.

The halftime show on YouTube will feature a number of the video sharing platform’s celebrities. Those YouTube celebrities included in the roster boast millions of followers on their YouTube channels as well as billions of views of their videos. According to YouTube, people spent over 6.3 million hours watching Super Bowl advertisements on the site last year so it stands to reason that between the large number of consumers familiar with viewing Super Bowl ads on YouTube and the loyal fan bases tied to the YouTube celebrities featured in the half time show there will be a fair number of consumers who will visit the site during the Super Bowl and tune in at least for part of the experience. YouTube’s approach seems well aligned with the brand and edgy enough to at least catch the attention of some curious Super Bowl enthusiasts as well as some marketers considering the allocation of advertising dollars towards the video sharing site.

From a marketing management perspective here are some questions to consider:

  • As a marketing manager for a sports drink company what factors would you want to consider in making the decision whether to purchase a traditional television advertising spot in the Super Bowl?
  • What are some reasons why a marketing manager might find investing their advertising dollars in a digital platform (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube) more attractive during a big televised sporting event?
  • If you were in charge of marketing YouTube’s halftime show in the weeks prior to its airing online what associations would you want consumers to have with the concept? What about marketers?