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2014 Super Bowl Ads - In It for the Long Game

  |  January 22, 2014   |  Comments

Brands are turning their focus toward long-term engagement in their upcoming Super Bowl ads.

Next month when the NFC and AFC champions face off in the Super Bowl, the game won't be the only thing keeping football fans riveted -- ads have long been an integral part of the experience. We've seen iconic commercials debut during the Super Bowl, like the Budweiser frogs, Gatorade's fantastic one-on-one basketball game between Michael Jordan and himself, and the E-Trade babies.

Marketers spend millions of dollars on attention-grabbing ads for a moment of limelight during the big show, and consumers love it! Though the immediate buzz around successful commercials is huge, what do brands get from them beyond that?

The answer is not much. Marketers have realized this -- so this year, be prepared for commercials that are a little different. Don't get me wrong, the ads are bound to be just as entertaining, but their purpose will extend far beyond making you laugh, cry, or think for 30 seconds. This year's ads will aim to lay the foundation for longer-lasting interactions and durable customer relationships. Here's why:

Renting Attention is a Thing of the Past

Historically, most marketing investments have been about "renting attention." "Renting attention" means paying to borrow attention that another entity has earned, and the Super Bowl is the ultimate example of this. Sure, countless memorable and entertaining commercials have aired during the Super Bowl, but producing a hit is no longer a means to an end. In today's information-saturated, crowded market, rented attention has become less effective as attention becomes increasingly scarce.

Instead of renting attention, companies are aiming for longer-lasting engagement with their customers through various owned and earned media. To do this, marketers must position their companies as trusted advisors by publishing and creating valuable content and thought leadership. They need to use that position to meet potential customers early in the buying process, and then engage with buyers to develop those relationships over time.

Long-Term Engagement is Marketing/Advertising's Future

Of course, this is not an either-or proposition; ideal marketing plans will use a mix of rented and owned attention for marketing efforts to be effective.

When was the last time you saw an ad that didn't have some sort of soft call to action like "follow us!" or "share this!"? Ads are now sprinkled with hashtags, Twitter and Facebook handles, and Web addresses beckoning consumers to pick up the conversation thread on a company-run site or account. Marketers are beefing up their long game to register with consumers and engage with them through content over time.

That being the case, ads that are part of a larger storyline with multiple touch points are becoming the norm. Take Intuit for example. Six months ago, the company launched their "Small Business, Big Game" campaign in advance of the Super Bowl. The interactive campaign has resulted in massively increased engagement, urging consumers to watch the videos, confer with friends, and vote for their favorites to whittle the 20 pre-selected entrants down to the final four -- not to mention countless visits to the Intuit site to check the results! Intuit has shifted attention away from itself to focus entirely on their small businesses. From their non-brand URL to their Intuit-less hashtag (#TeamSmallBiz), the company has committed to investing in a longer-term campaign with a much larger return on investment.

These kinds of ads open the door to levels of communication that traditional marketing could never achieve. They allow marketers to capture contact information, like an email, and use that permission to continuously build their relationships overtime with engaging content. If you're thinking, "that sounds like lead nurturing," you're absolutely correct! All the calls to action and long-term campaigns are tactics to keep you engaged much longer than the allotted airtime. Today's new marketing strategy is about turning hit-or-miss rented attention into long-term, personal engagement with prospects -- and Super Bowl XLVIII will offer numerous examples.

Image via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Miller

Jon leads strategy and execution for Marketo. Before co-founding Marketo, Jon was Vice President, Product Marketing at Epiphany and held positions at Exchange Partners and Gemini Consulting. He is executive editor of the popular Marketo blog, Modern B2B Marketing, and author of the comprehensive handbook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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