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Super Bowl ads: Hitting pay dirt with controversy?

by | Feb 4, 2015 | Uncategorized

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the winners of the Super Bowl advertising game, but does the ad really need to be a “winner” to receive a big payoff?

We’ve seen a blitz of research around the ways in which social media shapes the TV advertising industry. Insights show that consumers love using social media— especially while watching TV.

The Super Bowl is the epitome of this, with millions of viewers using Facebook and Twitter to comment on the game and, maybe even more importantly, the ads. Sixty-five million people took to social media during the Super Bowl and ads had more than 1.5 million game day mentions on Twitter alone.

Reflecting on GoDaddy’s decision to pull its Super Bowl spot in response to public outcry, it may seem as though social has a one-way effect on the advertising industry: It allows the general public to determine what ads we’ll see and which ones get canned.

But as we’re seeing in the wake of Super Bowl XLIX, social media also substantially increases the impact of any advertisement: The virtual conversations that ensue are carried on long after airtime, thereby providing a long-term benefit and low cost-per-impression that television advertising alone simply can’t match.

In this way, social media is an amplifier that improves the reach of broadcast campaigns (along with media stories, as well—but that’s for another post). Unlike broadcast, social media allows brands to monitor and impact the conversation around an ad.

Take, for example, Nationwide’s gloomy dead children spot—which seemed to depress more people than a goal-line interception.

According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, the ad received over 230,000 social mentions during the game (and the vast majority of these interactions were negative). Maybe it’s not exactly the type of impact Nationwide intended, but at least they can measure consumer reaction and make adjustments if necessary.

And what about GoDaddy and its pulled lost puppy ad? This ad got benched before the game even started, but thanks to the company’s pre-release strategy has still been viewed more than 600,000 times on YouTube.

In an age where consumers play the role of receivers, critics, editors, and proliferators of advertising messages, controversial ads are a calculated move intended to cut through clutter and generate increased attention for a campaign—whether the added exposure is worth the negative backlash is still yet to be determined.

Julia Vadurro

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