Super Bowl Ad Observations Continue

Dave LawsonAs I mentioned Wednesday, I meticulously reviewed this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads. Some were gross, some made great use of social channels, and some tackled the multichannel experience very well.
Here are other interesting things I took note of:

Products are increasingly mobile:
One of the most notable trends I witnessed at CES this year was that nearly EVERYTHING had some sort of mobile component to the actual product experience. Another element of this was visible again this year as mobile extensions of brands now have at minimum a cameo appearance, but are growing to starring roles in the TV commercials themselves. Take Cars.com, for example. Showing the mobile extensions of a brand impacts the buyer’s perceptions and lets them see that their potential loyalty and investment in that brand will be a mutually beneficial relationship. This continued interconnectedness opens the doors to the big data opportunities most are exploring today.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most significant categories supporting the Super Bowl ad buying: The connected car. As I witnessed at CES and as was depicted in commercials from Kia, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz, tremendous advancements in mobile product strategy are making entirely new OS and app marketplaces available to developers, marketers and consumers. There is perhaps no better context to frame thinking around right message, right place, right time to a potential consumer as they pilot a freshly minted auto off the lot and into traffic. Exciting times lay ahead.

Streaming Video and TV Will Never Be Separate Again:
Digital devices and streaming video are a match made in Google circa 2006 M&A heaven. The ability to amplify investments made in huge productions like the Super Bowl is long overdue. Many brands have a digital video strategy (i.e. YouTube) and those that recognize that video consumption is part of the consumer experience have already capitalized. Due to device fragmentation, carrier differences, connectivity variances, delivering video on phones has historically been a bit dodgy. YouTube knows this and has spent untold dollars to optimize delivery across channels and devices.

While we recommend our platform’s integrated, dedicated streaming video hosting strategy, not all marketers or agencies have access to a service like this. For many marketers YouTube becomes their default hosting option when driving to video views on mobile, and that is ok. For one, it aggregates reporting to see total views across campaigns. For another, it drops people in a place where other brand content is likely available and becomes a discovery zone. I would suggest, however, there are better ways to leverage the advantages as you avoid derailing campaign or experience-specific efforts. To keep people engaged, embed the YouTube hosted videos within your site instead of making them open another window. The average mobile user just doesn’t know/think to close a window on mobile as easily as they might on desktop to easily return to the original mobile site.

Additionally, I’ll have to ding Snickers for something new this year. They did a nice job of keeping people within the experience and brought YouTube into their site, however, once the Robin Williams/Bobcat Goldthwait spot played, instead of their brand channel, I was presented with just the regular YouTube channel and other videos that had been posted- completely unrelated to Snickers. In fact, there were a number of options to watch features on Australian body builders who espouse eating only egg whites, boiled broccoli, and working out 10 hours a day – a bit of a departure from where Snickers consumption may take my washboard abs. I know it’s a bit nit-picky on my part but it’s a bothersome detail. As always, thanks to marketers for taking risks and putting work out for others to emulate or improve upon, I know there is much that happens beyond full-control.

As a media option for brands, video viewing also becomes fair game for things like conquest buys. VW killed it on many aspects of the campaign they planned this year, and YouTube was exceptional. Executing a conquest strategy, they had a pop-under pre-roll prior to any video I watched after searching for Super Bowl ads. Before any Audi, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Ram, or other car-related video, I was reacquainted with the infectious Jimmy Cliff and an excellent creative execution and each time legitimately #GOTHAPPY. Bravo Mon!

Final Take:
As a whole, I felt fairly let down by the majority of the creative and storytelling that occurred on my flat-screen during this year’s festivities. Those elements aside, I was impressed by the maturity, restraint, and sophistication of most of the efforts. The ability to understand what the correct mix and sequences are for those in their customers journey today will only improve as time passes, silos are consolidated, data is meaningfully mined and put actionably into play for content, messaging, as well as media planning and buying. Now, like the good, receptive consumers we all are – go out for a test drive, buy some food and drink, insure everything you own, smell great, and watch more TV and movies (these categories are offered 100% of the ads during the game).

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