Traditional marketing can be effective but it must be followed up with relevant and engaging content marketing which strengthens relations.

Why advertising during the Super Bowl is a waste

On Sunday the Super Bowl will be played at the Levi’s Stadium outside of San Francisco. The Carolina Panthers will meet the Denver Broncos while American advertisers compete for TV audiences’ attention. Unfortunately many of them are throwing their advertising budgets into the sea.

Imagine that you have four million American dollars and want to waste it as quickly as possible. It sounds next to impossible, doesn’t it? But there is an easy way – advertise during the Super Bowl. 30 seconds of airtime costs around four million dollars and most companies fail to capitalise on this time.

I will explain why, but let us first establish one thing.

Paid or owned media
Content marketing is about using one’s own channels. It has always and probably will always be this way. Ten years ago, when content marketing advocates were the underdogs in the business, we happily claimed that traditional advertising and paid media were on the way out. Content marketing would take over and out-compete advertising. In hindsight, we had it all wrong.

Today we know that most companies need a good mix of owned, earned and paid media. The paid channels are particularly important for achieving greater reach, and using social media is almost a necessity.

But there is a big difference between investing a range of resources and wasting millions on the Super Bowl.

Advertising can be good and extremely effective. But it must be used properly. It must engage, inspire and elicit a response from the receiver. Trumpeting your brand’s existence in 30 seconds can create high brand recognition. Yet is brand recognition worth so much money? For most companies, it isn’t. For an advertisement to be a good investment, it must create interest, demand and business. This is why you need to make advertising part of your content marketing.

51% lack a call-to-action
While you can find good examples of engaging advertisements during the Super Bowl, unfortunately these are the exceptions rather than the rule. After the 2015 Super Bowl, Jeffrey Rohrs wrote an interesting article where he found that 51 per cent of advertisements shown during the Super Bowl lacked a call-to-action. This is despite the fact that studies have shown that 61 per cent of Super Bowl TV viewers are simultaneously using smartphones. As Jeffrey Rohrs writes:

”Folks, I’m sorry, but this is marketing malpractice. I love branding as much as the next person, but the Super Bowl is such an expensive platform, you must do more than boost brand recall. You need consumers to take action — buy, opt-in, subscribe, amplify — anything to make your ad last beyond its 30 seconds.”

He is of course absolutely right. To spend four million dollars on 30 seconds without a call-to-action is crazy. It is a waste. It is just stupid.

Instead advertisers should, both during the Super Bowl and throughout the rest of the year, focus on using advertisements to spread and strengthen communications from their own media. In this way the advert becomes a natural part of the overall marketing that communicates the same message, values and feelings, and by extension offers recipients added value.

In summary
Traditional marketing can be effective but it must be followed up with relevant and engaging content through owned channels, which strengthens the relationship with the recipient. Advertisements should be used to increase coverage and drive traffic to owned platforms and channels.