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The Super Bowl Has Reach, But Does It Really Connect?

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Facebook “Likes” for Major Super Bowl XLV Advertisers Increase by just 0.19%.

According to Neilson, a new all-time TV audience record was set on Sunday night, as the average home audience for Super Bowl XLV hit 111 million viewers. The previous record holder was the Saints-Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLIV which had 106.5 million average viewers and eclipsed the prior audience record, 106 million, held by “M*A*S*H” since its 1983 finale. According to Nielsen figures released by Fox, which carried the game, 162.9 million viewers watched all or part of the game, also a new record. The previous high, 153.4 million, was also set by last year’s Super Bowl.

With numbers like these it’s no surprise that advertisers were willing to pay close to $3,000,000 for a thirty second spot, or $100,000 per second. In short, when it comes to the Super Bowl, no other media event provides anywhere close to the kind of “reach” that it does.

However, in today’s fast paced media environment where users are hit 100’s if not 1000’s of messages per day, is “reach” still the right metric to be looking at? Just because I’ve reached you, does that mean I have truly connected with you and made a lasting impression? Yes, advertising during the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of consumer branding, but when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of it as an advertising medium, I think its important that we start to look at other metrics in order to judge its impact.

Introducing a new metric – “Connectivity”
In today’s ever increasingly “social world” more and more brands are looking to leverage social media as a means to connect and form relationships with consumers. Therefore, I’d like to argue that if this is true, the effectiveness of advertising mediums and the ads that appear within them should be measured by not just by how effectively they reach the consumer, but more importantly how effectively they connect consumers with the brand.

And, what better way is there to measure this by than the 800lb Gorilla, known as Facebook. In short, one would think that if you were to advertise on a stage as big as the Super Bowl, not only would you reach users; you would connect with them as well. Yes, some Super Bowl XLV advertisers were more “social” than others, but when you are advertising on a medium a large as the Super Bowl, I’d like to think that it should have the residual effect of motivating those you “reach” to want to further “connect” and establish an ongoing relationship via social media, specifically Facebook.

Facebook “Like” Growth of Key Super Bowl Advertisers
In order to test my theory I decided to look at the Facebook fan base of 24 Super Bowl advertisers at 3pm on Sunday, February 6th, prior to the Big Game. I then revisited these same pages at 8pm (29 hours later) on Monday, February 7th, as I wanted to give people enough time to absorb the ads and have ample time to get off the couch and onto Facebook. The following are the results:

The Social Bowl - Super Bowl XLV Adertisers
                    Click on above image to see enlarged version

As you will see when it comes to connecting with consumers via Social Media, the Super Bowl had very little impact. In all, only 85,611 Likes were garnered across all of these major brands, which accounted for an increase of just 0.19%! While Coca Cola scored the largest volume increase of Likes at 19,942, this equated to overall growth of just 0.09%. Likewise Teleflora (Nice Rack) had the largest percentage increase of Likes at 4.76%, but this equated to total numerical growth of just 183 Likes.

In the end, while the Super Bowl does have reach, when it comes to connecting with users via Social Media, specifically via Facebook, and creating lasting relationships, it has a long way to go. Because of its audience and cultural impact, the Super Bowl will always get top dollar, but as time evolves and the landscape only becomes more cluttered, how we measure effectiveness is going to change. Social Media is only become more important and valuable to us as marketers and it’s my belief that being able to apply hard metrics about the ability of media and advertising to “connect” with consumers, not just reach them, is the success metric of the future.

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