Over the last two years we have seen a booming trend emerging for Super Bowl marketing; many are actually being posted to YouTube by their respective brands days – and even weeks – before the Big Game.
Volkswagen started the trend two years ago when it revealed the popular ad featuring a young boy dressed as Darth Vader via YouTube before its actual television premiere during Super Bowl XLV. The very next year, over 60 percent of brands released some kind of ad or teaser on YouTube prior to Super Bowl XLVI.
As a football enthusiast, I have often scoffed at the thought of people watching the biggest American sporting event of the year simply for the commercials. Too often I have encountered partygoers who were lucky if they could name the two starting quarterbacks in the game. You would think that commercials being available for viewing ahead of time would lead to only true fans watching the game. Yet, over 111 million people tuned into last year’s Super Bowl, making it one of the highest rated broadcasts in television history.
There is no sign of brands stopping the trend this year. The Cokes, Anheuser-Busches and Mercedes-Benzes of the world have already either posted a commercial online or have released a teaser; and there is no reason not to from a brand perspective when viewing the numbers. According to YouTube Industry Director Suzie Reider, campaigns that released their commercial prior to the game last year earned an average of 9.1 million views online. Those that did not earned an average of 1.3 million. A stark difference when you consider that Super Bowl commercials are usually discussed at even greater length than the actual game on Monday. As a matter of fact, the 111 million person audience for the game was dwarfed by the combined amount of commercial views when YouTube was considered (about 300 million).
While it appears Super Bowl commercials will forever hold their place in pop culture by being a prominent part of an American tradition, there is something to be said for the positive reaction viewers have displayed regarding airing commercials ahead of time. As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, even the way these commercials are presented – normally front and center for the world to see – will have to adopt new practices.