January 31st, 2014 by Leonard Klie

SBThe Big Game kickoff is still a few days away, but already several ad industry watchdogs are analyzing the appeal of this year’s Super Bowl advertising, which is expected to bring into Fox’s coffers a whopping $4 million per 30-second spot  (that equals about $133,000 per second). Surprisingly, that’s still considered a bargain considering that Super Bowl viewership tops more than 100 million people around the world.

Nonetheless, there’s a lot of money on the line, to be sure, but shouldn’t we at least let the commercials air before we start slicing and dicing them to see what worked and what didn’t.

Brand Keys, for example, already on Jan. 21 (more than a week and a half before Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII broadcast), released a Super Bowl ad engagement survey in which it found that more than a third of this year’s advertisers will get sacked during their allotted time, and only half will score big based on their big investments.

The survey found that for brands like GoDaddy, Old Spice, SodaStream, Pepsi, Toyota, and Butterfingers, the game should deliver. Doritos, Coke, Hyundai, M&Ms, and Axe were also expected to do well, while TurboTax, Intuit, Squarespace, and H&M were deemed to be ad underdogs.

The survey, according to Brand Keys, looks at how the advertisers perform in the overall marketplace. Does the ad engage and build the brand? Does it defend against competition? Does it engage enough to drive sales? These are all questions considered.

While I have a tremendous amount of respect for Brand Keys and frequently rely on the firm for its insight, I have to question the survey’s methodology. To find out which ads will rack up big numbers on the brand engagement scoreboard, Brand Keys polled a national sample of 1,660 men and women who indicated they were going to watch the game. The research examined 29 brands reported in the media to be Super Bowl advertisers, and determined, via emotional engagement assessments, to what degree those brand values will be affected by advertising on the Super Bowl.

This, in no way, reflects the ads themselves, but looks instead at the entire company as a whole. On a stage as big as the Super Bowl, an ad’s entertainment value, and the amount of water-cooler talk it generates on Monday, can’t be overlooked.

GoDaddy is a Web site registry service—not really a company that is flashy or sexy, but it appeals to the Super Bowl audience because its ads feature hot models in striking poses.

etradeOnline stock trading platform provider E*trade, a perennial fan favorite among all of the Super Bowl advertisers, and probably the one with the most memorable ads, scored big in past game broadcasts not because it effectively defended against competitors in its ads or because it gave me the impression that it could be trusted with my hard-earned paycheck, but because its talking babies were cute and irreverent at the same time. Unfortunately, the company isn’t ponying up the money for ads during the game this year, so here’s  the clip from last year’s gem.

I like what Keynote is doing this year.  The company will reportedly be tracking the “three screen” Web sites of the 2014 Super Bowl advertisers, monitoring the performance of these sites across laptop, tablet, and mobile devices, to see how effective they are at allowing the game’s massive audience to surf and share what they see on their incredibly large TV screens.

Keynote is already reporting that some big names, most notably Butterfinger and Heinz, are not optimized for mobile, and questions how they will be able to handle the blitz when their ads run.

To find out how all the ads really fare, I guess we’ll have to wait till Super Bowl Recovery Day, when marketing’s real Monday-morning quarterbacking begins. And I’m looking forward to watching the ads as much as I am the game itself.

So here’s the follow-up to Keynote’s research on the three-screen capabilities of the Super Bowl advertisers:

Super Bowl advertisers continued to struggle with connecting to consumers beyond the television screen, especially on mobile devices. The average load time for all sites on smartphones was nearly 20 seconds, and only six sites came in at less than 10 seconds. That’s well past user expectations of four seconds.

Many brands (58 percent) took to social platforms like Twitter and YouTube for cross-screen engagement.

But viewers of the big game still turned to mobile sites for more information about the companies in ads. What they experienced was most often long load times, and in some cases, no site at all.

Compared to last year, Keynote saw fewer advertisers delivering sites that hadn’t been optimized for smartphones. But even though only two sites did not customize delivery for mobile, the performance was still quite slow because of the amount of data delivered.

But that still didn’t stop users from visiting sites directly. Some sites, such as Maserati, had difficulties dealing with the resulting traffic, displaying a “temporarily unavailable” notice.

Of all the desktop sites Keynote monitored, Kia’s had the lowest availability at just 91 percent. Pepsi’s site on the smartphone also averaged about 90 percent success rate.
In contrast, the best performing site was SodaStream. Although performing well across desktop, smartphone and tablet­, SodaStream experienced timeout errors for a brief period of about five minutes.

Comment by Leonard Klie — — February 3, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

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