Super Bowl Advertisers Can Expect a 20% Increase in Web Traffic; Mobile Video Viewing Will Double on Super Bowl Sunday


Those of us in the advertising profession don’t view the Super Bowl like most Americans do. Most viewers will be focused on watching their big screen TVs, eating Super Bowl munchies and hoping for their favorite team to score another touchdown. Marketers, however, think of it as the Oscars of advertising. We run into the room when the commercials start, and admittedly some of us even tune out when the football action resumes. For marketers, it’s our opportunity to be inspired by the world’s best creative talent. Most importantly, it’s our moment to truly entertain, inspire and emotionally touch consumers on one of the biggest TV events of the year. In the back of our minds, however, a huge question looms. Is this the best we can do as marketers? Should we still be spending that much money on a seemingly untargeted and untrackable sports event?


Digital marketers are held to a higher standard nowadays. Measurement, targeting and the ability to deliver relevant advertising through digital media channels have changed the game. Simply tracking marketing budget ROI via focus groups and awareness studies is insufficient for today’s CMO. Interaction between online and offline media is still complex, but it’s imperative to analyze and optimize multiple media in order to build effective advertising campaigns.

The Adobe Digital Index team performed two types of analysis to understand 1) the consumption patterns of sports related content across devices and 2) how web traffic is impacted by television advertising around the Super Bowl.

1. Mobile video viewing will double on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Digital Index team analyzed 1.4 billion video starts during 10 large sporting events in 2012 and compared them to typical, non-event days. Viewers demonstrated an increasing propensity to check sports-related videos from their mobile phones and an even larger desire to watch those video from tablets during these special sporting events. These data points are compelling, but most striking is the percentage of online videos accessed by tablet and mobile phones, reaching 16% on a day with a major sporting event – a 100% increase compared to a typical day in sports. Viewership levels of this magnitude are significant and demonstrate the need for media websites to continue to invest in usability, design and optimization of mobile content. For advertisers, it begs the question. Should I supplement my Super Bowl ad spend with online video to reach a more affluent and targeted audience with more measurable results? Or, if I can’t afford America’s most expensive 30 seconds of airtime ($3.8 million in 2013), can I take advantage of the event in other ways online?

Digital Index data suggests that marketers should be saying yes and yes. Super Bowl advertisers should consider the mobile video consumption trend to supplement their television expenditure with incremental online video advertising. Advertisers looking for more targeted vehicles or who cannot afford the Super Bowl premium can tap into this marketing moment online and capitalize on the digital channel’s great targeting, low CPMs and affluent audience. We know that mobile advertising is still complex, but the prices remain relatively low while the audience is growing and is proven to spend more. US advertisers spent 180 billion dollars in 2012, but directed only 2% of that spend into mobile advertising (Source: eMarketer Worldwide Ad Spending Forecast, January 2013)

2. Super Bowl advertisers will see a 20% increase in web traffic and the bump in visits will last about a week.

Visits and page views to companies that advertise on TV during the Super Bowl show a 20% increase in visits on the day of the game and maintain higher than average traffic for a week following the game. However, by the week after that, all is forgotten and traffic returns to its normal levels.

This chart shows visits leading up to and following the Super Bowl in 2011:

In 2012, more and more brands launched Super Bowl videos online before the game. The data above shows that traffic for advertisers peaked much earlier in the cycle prior to the Super Bowl. The week following the Super Bowl, however, saw a lower lift of 12% more page views versus 15% in 2011 and 12% more visits in 2012 versus 23% in 2011. These findings indicate that the previews were more likely to pull traffic forward than increase the overall impact. Clearly, optimizing the digital returns from Super Bowl advertising is still a work in progress.

Many advertising conversations revolve around the tradeoffs between digital and traditional advertising when in fact, the most powerful formula comes from the combination of them. As media companies expand their digital content and ad insertion capabilities, especially in the area of video and mobile, and as advertisers dial in the magic formula between online and offline media spend, it becomes increasingly clear that we can no longer think in terms of one versus the other. The marriage of digital and traditional media will become the ultimate solution and will drive unprecedented results.

Will Super Bowl advertisers be able to dial in the previews and extend the post-Super Bowl bump this year? Will they incorporate online and offline campaigns more effectively and improve the effectiveness of their Super Bowl ad spend? Will advertisers get their money’s worth? A lot of these questions will be topics of discussions after February 3. In the meantime, we’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.


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