Dear CMO:
I’m going to go out on a limb here a few hours before the year’s biggest advertising event. Blogging about Super Bowl advertising is going against my better judgment. Every marketer in America with a keyboard is going to say something about this. But I can’t help myself.
Super Bowl advertising has become a hyper-specialized art form that exists now purely for its own sake. Super Bowl advertising is no longer about selling stuff — it’s theater. A full 15.7% of viewers tune in only to watch the ads.
The the “selling stuff” part is proving to be easier said than done. Erwin Ephron & Gerry Pollak pull back the curtain on advertising ROI in their paper, “Finding the Other Half“, a re-working of their piece I originally read as “Curse of the Leverhulmes”. They show that the ROI of a typical CPG brand advertising effort is a paltry $0.54 per dollar invested. Things get better on the B2B side, but the picture isn’t pretty.
Doug Hall at the Eureka! Ranch (where I’ve always wanted to spend a few days and never been able to figure out how) points us to some interesting insights — its usually the low scoring “buzz” spots that have the highest ROI’s. And, to cap it off, advertising effectiveness is getting lower every year.
This sure stands out in sharp contrast to the punditry espousing the idea that “it’s not about ROI, it’s about the BUZZ…”
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Key Takeaways:
> It isn’t about the buzz. It’s about selling stuff. Increasing sell-through. Buzz is great if it makes more people buy your stuff. There may be many interesting twists and turns from the planting of the idea to the act of purchase happening, but if the loop never gets closed, you wasted your money.
> Reading interesting case studies written by ad agency people probably isn’t the most objective way to figure out how to do this right. Talk to people who aren’t making money based on your actions.
> Everyone seems to agree that telling compelling truths, being true to your brand, and testing your creative are the sure fire ways to get the most out of your Super Bowl spot. Sounds like “Mom & Apple Pie” advice to me. Or, if you’re into the whole Super Bowl thing at this point, “defences win championships” and “establish the running game.” Harumph.
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Maybe I’ll end up spending $2.5 million on thirty seconds of advertising history one of these days. And maybe not. Two and a half million buys a lot of sell-through at the channel level. And it can launch a whole lot of interesting new media campaigns, and if one — just one! — works, I’m ahead of the game. But it takes all kinds, doesn’t it.
Enjoy the game, those of you tuning in to watch it — I’ll be rooting for the commercials.
Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Denny