Every year, millions of people tune into the Super Bowl not just for the amazing football, but also for the spectacular commercials for which the game has become renowned. Because the game is so widely seen, advertisers have traditionally spent a pretty penny to air the best advertisements they can come up with. Interestingly enough, however, the advertising strategies surrounding the Super Bowl are changing due to the increased prevalence of social media in people’s lives. Advertisers now have to work to create spots that are memorable on both the television and on the Internet, where they get widely distributed prior to and after the game. Additionally, with the advancements of Facebook “Likes” and Twitter trends, consumers can react to the ads in a public forum, which can severely affect an ad's success and thereby a product’s sales.
As far as purchasing an ad in the 2012 Super Bowl goes, 30 second ads cost somewhere between $3.5 and $4.0 million depending on the time slot. Considering that many of the commercials cost somewhere around $1 million to produce in the first place, that’s a pretty serious investment. Then again, considering that there are 800 million registered users on Facebook, tweets that number in the hundreds of millions each day, and not to mention countless blogs and personal websites, the potential for circulation—and thereby revenue generation—is basically unlimited. Consider these numbers: when the game was in its closing three minutes, there were over 1.8 million tweets (10,000 per second), and during the half time show, there were 2.5 million tweets in a 5 minute span. Given that the Super Bowl has so many people across the country plugged in and using social media, if advertisers can get a favorable reaction from the Twitter/Facebook world, their product can really take off. Companies will also distribute display ads through ad networks like Adblade, which can help visually promote the product beyond just the commercial. However, if people deem a certain company’s ad to be offensive, they can get blasted off the market.
As a result, companies were extremely careful this year with the selection of ads that they aired, having extensively pre-tested the ads in focus groups prior to Super Bowl Sunday. This practice was implemented largely in response to Groupon, who aired a commercial last year that was deemed offensive and was so harshly attacked on Twitter and Facebook that the company’s sales were severely affected. In a case like that, huge sums of money have to be spent on reputation management either using more display ads or producing another commercial to try and shift the focus. Super Bowl Sunday has always been one of the biggest advertising events of the year, and while that hasn’t changed, advertisers find themselves taking a more measured approach with the advent of social media.