Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Digital Marketing, Expectations and Commons Sense

Even if you do not live in the United States, if you work in Marketing you will have been bombarded with Super Bowl related marketing news over the last few weeks.

I subscribe to a fair number of online marketing newsletters, blogs, magazines and the like, as well as general news outlets from all over the world and in the past few weeks you were forgiven for thinking that all marketing revolved around how advertisers maximized their ROI on a $4 million 30 second investment.

That is not what I want to talk about in this post. What I want to address in the context of Superbowl is Digital Marketers and Common Sense, or very often the lack thereof.

Let's start with some data: according to Nielsen the Superbowl reached just over 46% of US households. That is about 1% lower versus last year's edition.

It was the most expensive Superbowl to date, and CBS sold out on all of its spots. In fact, thanks to the power-outage, they apparently even gave away some extra spots to their most loyal Superbowl advertisers.

In case you missed any of the commercials, you can see them all on the USA Today website. Every year they hold a "popularity contest" to determine who, in the eyes of the viewers, delivered the most liked advertising entertainment. This is really nothing more than a popularity contest - it has no bearing on drivers that advertisers should care about, such as consumer persuasion or engagement.

Here is the Top 10 according to USA Today:

2013 was also the "social bowl" with many advertisers showcasing their social media prowess by including links, especially Twitter hash tags, as well as other assorted social media elements.

First of all, who were the 25% of advertisers that did not include any kind of digital media links? And secondly, as you can see, Facebook fell a little bit out of favor, and I consider this good news as we did not see last years repeat of "Like our page on Facebook" as a summons at the end of ads. 

If we look at social media in terms of in-commercial inclusions of any kind, Twitter was an even clearer winner:

The Twitter phenomenon in fact was probably the most noticeable "media event", also for consumers. In fact, for every seven Twitter game mentions there were two ad mentions:

So what might advertisers have been after in terms of social media and engagement?

It is safe to assume one thing they might want is Consumer Engagement. This goes along the lines of "if they talk about me and like me, they might have a more favorable impression of me and buy me (eventually)".

Salesforce Marketing Cloud tracked brand buzz in the run-up to the main event (see here for their report).

Some obvious conclusions:

1. Sex sells: Kate Upton for Mercedes.
2. Controversy sells: Mercedes (see point 1), Blackberry (the return of/the death of)

How did these brands in the end fare on Game day?

Oops... especially if you are Coca-Cola, Blackberry and I guess, to a degree, Mercedes.

Some conclusions:

1. Animals sell: especially if they are cute little baby Clydesdales.
2. Sex sells: especially if it includes a super model and nerd, or just a super sculpted male model.

Now let's look a little closer at engagement results. First of all on Facebook.

As stated a little earlier, it is true that Facebook was not the main "destination" sold through the Super Bowl ads. But obviously all of the brands have a Facebook page, and if people liked their ad, did they also like the brand more? Here is what the "Likes" tell us:

Hello Hyundai: for each of the (rate card) $4 million invested (times 3 commercials, and excluding production cost), this is your Facebook engagement return. Are you happy with your +3% and the almost 600,000 people in total that now "Like" you on Facebook (US data)? Perhaps General Motors was right to drop the social network?

But we just said it wasn't about Facebook Likes, so let's look at Twitter. You can't "Like" a tweet but you can "mention", "Favorite" it or "Re-tweet" brands and ads and perhaps that is a proxy for a "Like"? Here is what happened:

Some conclusions:

- As with Facebook, sex and baby Clydesdales also sell on Twitter
- Unless you take "sentiment" into consideration, in which case Go Daddy did not win anything at all

Are we any clearer? Are we winning? Do we even know what we are doing?

Obviously, I do not have access to the data that has been gathered during and after the event for brands specifically, nor do I know exactly what the advertiser's objectives were.

But to me, I believe the only credible goal advertisers could have had was "reach/awareness". Engagement during the Superbowl? No, thanks. Viewers obviously have their companion screens and devices at the ready - hence all the tweets. But consumers don't hold them close by for you, mister brand, but to share moments of anticipation, exhilaration, disillusion or disgust with their family and friends.

The chatter is about "my" consumer experience, and not about "your" brand experience. If I find something funny, engaging or gross, I will share it with my best online friends. At best, for a brand, it is conversation about you, not with you.

Coca-Cola found this out the hard way. They delivered plenty of buzz pre-event with their open ended commercial, but did people vote on who should win the epic race through the desert to the cold bottle of Coke? No, because we were too busy tweeting about the lights that went out, the win of the Ravens and that gross Go Daddy kiss.

This is why I believe common sense has been ignored during the decision making process in many of the meeting rooms, war rooms and board rooms as advertisers prepared to justify their massive Superbowl investments. Common sense would tell you that the event is first and foremost an event that is shared for the sake of the event. The moment. The interaction between friends and family.

Perhaps, as a brand, you have a small bit part to play in entertaining during the breaks. But seriously, next time consider just tweeting a smart and topical bit of content that is fully aligned with what people are actually talking about, instead of investing multiple millions in a TV spot and trying to "be" the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Update: Nielsen has released its "winners and losers" in terms of which ads were most liked and most memorable in the eyes of the viewers. You can read up on it here: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/192897/nielsen-super-bowl-ads-most-liked-remembered.html?edition=56352#axzz2K3y3yh2C