Let’s Stop Debating Whether or Not Super Bowl Ads are Worth It


ADOTAS — Every year the industry debates whether or not Super Bowl ads are worth the millions of dollars that brands invest for a TV spot (current estimate for the 2014 Super Bowl: $4 million for a 30-second spot).

I’m not here for that debate, because it’s absolutely worth it if your primary goal is brand lift.

But as important as brand lift is, it’s not where the value of a Super Bowl commercial should end, but rather where it should begin. Beyond just lift, brands should also expect their Super Bowl commercials to contribute consumer engagement, purchase intent and even instant conversion.

That’s right, every Super Bowl commercial should be contributing to the bottom line. Here’s why and how…


If you’re spending $4 million on 30 seconds – you should expect some measurable ROI. ‘Nuff said.


The key to unlocking engagement and conversion opportunities from Super Bowl ads lies in effective use of the second screen … tapping into the 50 percent of consumers who are watching TV with a tablet or smartphone in their hand.

I realize that touting the second screen is not a new idea.  But what has changed — and changed radically over the past two years — is the best way to access and leverage that second screen.

The Rise of the Super Bowl Hashtag

In 2013, 38 percent of all Super Bowl TV commercials included a hashtag. That’s a massive uptick from only 7 percent in 2012, and I’m willing to bet that number will be at least 75 percent in 2014. Advertisers have clearly realized the potential for and tapped hashtags to amplify their TV ad onto the second screen.

Hashtags have become so popular because they are like marketing “glue.” Hashtags are the bridges that connect campaigns to conversations. They enable viewers to join the conversation around a message or idea, and brands to curate that conversation for maximum amplification.

That’s cool and all, but these “traditional” hashtags don’t result in any of the ROI should haves that I mentioned earlier; consumer engagement, purchase intent and instant conversion. Hashtags have served as passive containers … you can’t “do anything” with them.

What if by posting an activated hashtag the viewer not only added to a brand conversation, but also instantly transacted with the ad?

What’s Next: Super Bowl Actiontags

An activated hashtag, or Actiontag, enables viewers to instantly participate in marketing and commerce from a Super Bowl ad.  Here’s how it works:

An Actiontag sits in front of a hashtag, giving viewers an instant way to “raise their hand” in response.

For example, instead of ending the commercial with a passive hashtag:

“Look for us on Twitter or Facebook at #NewAwesomeCar.”

You can end it with an Actiontag:

“Want a test drive? Just Tweet or Post #Drive #NewAwesomeCar.”

When a viewer posts an Actiontag to social media, brands are able to respond directly and capture interest, leads or transactions.  Consumers can instantly #Buy something, #Enter a contest, #Want to sample, or #Donate to give.

Unlocking the ROI of TV Advertising

By giving viewers a simple mechanism to participate and transact with a brand’s campaign, a Super Bowl commercial can result in measurable ROI, lead generation, and the direct attribution of social identity tied to marketing and commerce conversion. This can all be accomplished while amplifying a brand conversation from the first screen to the second, without changing viewer behavior.

Advertisers:  If you’re going to spend $4 million on your Super Bowl ad, and give it a hashtag, why not activate it for some measurable ROI?


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