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Scoring Big with Super Bowl Ads

By Laura Herring

Michael Clayton, program director for Kogod's MS in Marketing.

Michael Clayton, faculty program director of Kogod's new MS in Marketing program, examines the changes social media has made to national advertising campaigns.

Michael Clayton, faculty program director of Kogod's new MS in Marketing program, has nearly a decade of experience in national advertising, including top global brands like Chevrolet. With the Super Bowl in mind, Clayton shares his thoughts on current trends in game day advertising and how 21st century culture and media habits are changing how consumers and advertisers interact.

Q. It seems as though more and more Super Bowl ads or partial teasers are being leaked online in advance of the game each year. Consumers can now watch an ad thousands of times and discuss it with their friends through social networks before it actually debuts during the game. Is this trend that you expect to continue and how does this "pre-screening" affect the impact of a new ad?

A. Obviously social networking and leaking ads in advance of the game is a growing trend among advertisers, the shear magnitude of views an ad can get on YouTube before it even debuts is staggering. These "free" impressions are a great way to increase the ROI associated with the Super Bowl media buy. At the same time though, I think the jury is still out on how these trends can affect an overall campaign; it's such a new practice. I think we'll be seeing a lot of academic research on the topic in the coming years, studying things like the difference between seeing an ad on a 3" smartphone screen on the train and on a 47" screen in your living room with a bunch of your friends.

Q. Speaking of smartphones and social networks, how is that second-screen interaction changing how advertisers approach new campaigns?

A. Advertisers are very aware that consumers are active on Facebook and Twitter and constantly on their phones, and many have taken to using that as a natural way to create even more engagement with their audience. I know Coca-Cola is using an audience vote in their Super Bowl ad this year and Audi has been using the Twitter hashtag #BraveryWins. I think it's just a logical step in how consumers and brands can interact. When a company is spending $3.8 million or more on a single ad unit, they want to lengthen that audience interaction as long as possible and social media is a way to do that.

Q. Is consumer involvement in the ad development process, like Coca-Cola’s voting campaign or Chevrolet's script competition from 2012, a trend you see extending beyond the Super Bowl or becoming even more common in the coming years?

A. Consumer involvement isn't a new trend; Doritos has been doing it for years. It's a strategy that tends to work well enough for the Super Bowl and for generating humorous ads, but I don't think most marketers want to experiment with crowd sourcing of ads. It's a nice gimmick but the truth of the matter is that consumers aren't ad professionals.

Q. Another growing trend, at least in Super Bowl ads, seems to be longer spots. Do you think we're going to start seeing more and more 1-2 minute spots as opposed to the traditional 30-second ones?

A. I do think we'll continue to see longer ads in the future, at least for events like the Super Bowl. Great advertising is all about telling a story, and it's a lot easier to tell a story in 60-120 seconds than in 30; it's a creative team's dream. The impact of the longer ads also tends to benefit marketers when it comes to ad recall. But that's not to say that all the extra long Super Bowl ads will stay that way year-round; many of those ads are produced with plans to be cut shorter for later play. It's all a balance.