A few years ago a friend of mine who ran a digital agency was outspoken in his belief that advertising in the Super Bowl was a colossal waste of money. At the time, for less than the cost of one thirty-second ad in the game, an advertiser could take over the home page of MSN, Yahoo and AOL for an entire day, reaching an even bigger audience and engaging them in a more direct manner. His view, albeit a self-serving one, was that this was a much better way to make a splash with a couple of million dollars; and I agreed.
After all, the game could be a blowout or a yawn; and creating a buzz-worthy commercial is always an expensive gamble. And then there is the jaw-dropping mathematical calculation: $2+ million = 30 seconds = $68,000 per second.
But the emergence of the social media engine has changed everything. Weeks prior to this year's Super Bowl, the "stream" was flowing with news and gossip about who was going to be in the game and who wasn't (Pepsi actually received millions of dollars in attention for choosing to sit out), and whose ads were going to be naughty (Go Daddy) and nice (Google).
During the game, millions of Tweets provided real time viewer commentary on the popularity (and effectiveness?) of the ads. For days after the game, even the ads that ranked towards the bottom of the popularity polls were getting written about and linked to in the blogosphere and garnering millions of additional views on You Tube, NFL.com, their own sites and other video destinations.
Stuart Elliot wrote in the New York Times the other day about renewed interest in a trend he calls "big event television" which he went on to describe as programs "that can attract large, involved audiences at a time when consumers have been atomized into tiny niche markets."
Seems every advertiser with the means should consider the Super Bowl, and start planning the creative and social media executions a year in advance.