Sunday February 7 will see the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in what will not only be a display of sporting prowess, but also a showcase of the crème de la crème of advertising during Super Bowl 50. To prepare ourselves suitably for the big night, let’s look at last year’s performance; what worked well, and what trends are likely for this year’s main event.

According to Nielsen, a record amount of people – over 114 million – tuned in to watch the Super Bowl in 2015. Bloomberg analysis found that over a third of the broadcast time was taken by ad minutage and that if a viewer watched the entire show from start to finish, they would have seen 115 different ads in total. Communicus, a research consultancy, evaluated the effectiveness of over 150 Super Bowl ads from the past five years. Its key finding was that only one in five ads produced any meaningful movement for the brand in terms of either future purchase intention or other brand health metrics.

In addition to the cost, the cluttered nature of the programme means that a brand needs to have a remarkable, stark or entertaining ad in order to deliver cut-through. According to Bloomberg, last year had 52 ads featuring a famous person, 22 ads with women in revealing clothing, and eight spots with talking animals. Despite relying on some of the oldest tricks in the book, advertisers are running the risk of producing samey content which fades into the background.

Another key finding form Communicus’ analysis was that brands that pre-released their spots achieved a 15% higher brand awareness on average. Google found that ads published online before the Super Bowl accumulate 2.2 times more views than ads posted on game day. As per the early online release and teaser campaigns of the big retailer brands in the run up to Christmas here – arguably the closest the UK has to a ‘Super Bowl’ TV moment – seeding the ad out before the main event only serves to help ensure the ad is noticed amongst the clutter.

One final development that will affect Super Bowl 50, again comes from Google, who this week announced that it is stepping up the beta testing of a new real-time advertising tool. The new offering will allow brands to serve ads in real-time in response to relevant TV moments across YouTube and GDN sites and apps. This represents a distinct shift in encouraging multiplatform engagement (by way of a hashtag or competition) and ensuring that a brand can reach out to its audience across multiple touchpoints simultaneously in a reactive manner.

With both costs and audiences predicted to be at an all-time high for Super Bowl 50, we predict that the brands who will reap the benefits of taking part in the advertising extravaganza, will be those who have novel content, which is seeded out well before kick-off, and forms part of an engaging multi-platform campaign.

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