Posted by Dan Malachowski, Senior Strategist, Strategy & Analytics This year, the big moment for many Super Bowl advertisers wasn’t when their ads actually aired during the game. It was the days leading up to the game, where advertisers generated massive engagement on YouTube and Twitter. This post illustrates how brands spurred this pre-game buzz, inspiring participants to view and share commercials. It also highlights how Super Bowl advertisers did (and didn’t) extend the reach of their commercials in social and search after they aired. Extending Reach via Social Pre-Game Buzz Advertisers in years past have previewed their Super Bowl commercials on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube prior to the game. But this year, pre-game social extensions reached new heights. Brands didn’t wait until the actual Super Bowl to leverage their ads to generate massive social buzz. It was rare to see an ad during the game that you hadn’t already seen on Twitter, YouTube or in a friend’s Facebook feed. For example, the Kia “Space Babies” ad—which was promoted via the Twitter top Promoted Trend on the Thursday prior to the game—had 1.6 million YouTube views before it even aired during the Super Bowl. The Samsung “Next Big Thing” ad also had 1.6 million views before it aired. The Doritos “Goat for Sale” ad (which competed in the Crash the Super Bowl contest to air during the game) had 700,000+ YouTube views before it aired. It makes you wonder: If a brand creates a Super Bowl ad, does it actually have to pay the $4 million to air it? According to Old Spice, the answer is no. Old Spice’s Super Bowl ad for its new Wolfthorn scent aired only in Juneau, Alaska—a tribute to the American city with the largest wolf population. Limiting the ad to Juneau certainly didn’t affect the ad’s reach; it had 500,000 views on YouTube at halftime (Juneau has a population of 32,000). Supporting the ad in social and search pre game was all Old Spice needed to promote the ad: The Hash Additionally, we always see Super Bowl advertisers extending the reach of their thirty-second spots with hash tags. To do this, brands incorporate hashes in their commercials (e.g. #clydesdales for Budweiser, #PickYourTeam for Hyundai, #BraveryWins for Audi) because viewers will be tweeting when they see the ads—pre game, during and post. In fact, Twitter went down for a short time directly after the first commercial break, in which every ad—minus Budweiser Black Crown—included a hash. But, of course, if your commercial is funny or sexy enough, you don’t need to worry about promoting the hash; you’ll trend anyway. At halftime, Calvin Klein, Oreo, Jamaican (from the Volkswagen commercial) and #tacobell (in addition to the #15yrwinningstreak Promoted Trend from Subway) were trending: So what have we learned about the Super Bowl and social in 2013? Despite the millions shelled out for the TV media, Super Bowl commercials make it or break it in social media. And—minus Promoted Trends and Tweets—encouraging participation in social is free. Extending Reach via Search After the social buzz dies down, people often turn to Google and YouTube to re-watch their favorite ads. That’s why it’s best practice to ensure paid search—including YouTube paid search—visibility of your commercial. For example, Budweiser extended the reach of its commercial by leveraging paid search. Budweiser bid on its commercial’s theme, “Clydesdale,” and directed searchers directly to YouTube to watch the ad: Other advertisers didn’t do such a good job. For instance, Calvin Klein generated massive buzz with its commercial, but failed to direct “Calvin Klein” searchers to the commercial after it aired: Fast & Furious, which broke into the Top Google Hot Searches after the commercial aired, failed to capitalize on this Google buzz: And Subway—despite purchasing the Twitter Promoted Trend during the game—forgot about promoting its commercial on Google: More importantly, Super Bowl advertisers must promote their ads on YouTube—the place where most people go to find the commercials. For example, Gildan, in addition to all the car brands, was doing this: Other brands failed on YouTube. After its commercial aired, Cars.com didn’t bid on its name in YouTube paid search; meanwhile Volkswagen and Lincoln were visible in Cars.com’s spot: These examples illustrate best practices in extending Super Bowl commercial buzz via search and social, pre-game and post:
- Promote your commercials early on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
- Incorporate hashtags, Facebook pages and Instagram into your commercials
- Don’t underestimate the power of your participants to spread pre- and post-game commercial buzz
- Ensure that your commercial is visible to searchers, especially on YouTube!
- Monitor for conquestors using competitor tracking software. Don’t let your competitors ride your coattails!
- Optimize your commercial for organic search; if you post your commercial a few days in advance, it should have time to rank in organic search
- Don’t just optimize for your brand name in search. Bid on your commercial’s themes (i.e. “Jamaican” for Volkswagen, “Clydesdale” for Budweiser, “Sandcastle” for the NFL Network, “Montana Stain” for Tide), hashtags, etc.