Super Bowl XLVII Ad-Buy: To Spend or Not to Spend

February 1, 2013
Super Bowl XLVII

Growing up in Queens, NY, I had no choice but to be a Jets fan. Then attending Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh — a truly football crazed town, I had no choice but to adopt the Steelers. Fast forward a few decades, and while a Jets Super Bowl has not materialized since the glory days of Joe Namath, and while the Steelers regroup, I’m psyched to cheer on the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, as the city is the headquarters for Splice Machine and has been my home for over 20 years.

This Sunday, February 3rd, millions of eyeballs will be glued to their TV screens. And let’s face it – we are not a nation that is a majority of 49ers and Ravens fans. The Super Bowl is an event, attracting males and females alike, for the parties, the love of the game, and most of all, the ads.

Last year’s game set a new record for the most-viewed TV program in history, drawing 111.3 million viewers across the U.S. and tens of millions more around the world. And as usual, big-name advertisers are gearing up for their biggest marketing spend of the year, chomping at the bit for the once-a-year opportunity to reach such a huge segment of the U.S. population simultaneously.

This year, advertisers will pay an astounding $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime to reach over 111 million U.S. viewers (not including the cost to produce the commercials). This comes with no personalization, and no guarantee that anyone will pay attention or remember the ad. Even if they do remember, there is no easy way of knowing if the ad was the catalyst that made consumers purchase the advertised product or service. This makes us ponder, with all that has been made possible by Big Data, is paying for a Super Bowl ad really worth it?

What if consumers said they were thirsty on Twitter and the next ad they see would be for Coca Cola, Pepsi or Bud Light (only if they’re 21 of course)? Or if a consumer recently checked in at a car dealership on Facebook or FourSquare, a commercial gets shot to their TV or web browser with an ad for a car? The opportunities to target, based on Big Data analytics, are endless.

This new way of thinking about advertising is something I get a lot of exposure to as a board member at Rocket Fuel, the leading provider of artificial intelligence advertising solutions. Their cornerstone is programmatic buying, which, as they describe it, is ‘the ability to bid on an advertising inventory source, in real time, for the opportunity to show one specific ad to one consumer in one specific context.’ That one-to-one marketing at scale is something that is changing the model of advertising and it’s underpinned by cutting-edge Big Data and advanced analytics.

For a company like Rocket Fuel or a company like yours, there’s a cost to implementing a platform that can integrate and analyze all of these disparate data streams, but it’s a long-term investment in smarter advertising and marketing through Big Data.