Are Super Bowl Ads Worth the Money or is YouTube an Alternative?

I remember when watching the Super Bowl ads became my primary reason to tune into the “Big Game.”

It was January 22, 1984. I was watching Super Bowl XVIII with my father, a marketing executive at Oldsmobile.

During a break in the third quarter, Apple aired a 60-second spot entitled, “1984” which not only launched the Macintosh but became a watershed event in the history of advertising.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Apple’s television commercial featured English athlete Anya Major as an unnamed heroine destined to save us from conformity.

Well, a generation later, it appears that a critical mass of marketing executives at big brands have read the article I wrote last year: Is a Super Bowl Ad the Equivalent of Lighting Money on Fire?

Either that or they’ve had an epiphany while streaming YouTube on their TV screens while they were working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Regardless, a dozen brands are skipping Super Bowl LV, according to Jeanine Poggi of Ad Age.

  • Audi, which has aired 11 Super Bowl commercials, won’t be in the game this year.
  • Avocados From Mexico is breaking its six-year streak.
  • Coke is sitting out this year’s Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years.
  • Facebook plans to focus its efforts on the Grammy Awards.
  • Hyundai is also sitting out of the Super Bowl after running commercials in 12 of the last 13 games.
  • Kia, another regular automotive Super Bowl advertiser, has not yet announced its Super Bowl plans.
  • Little Caesars won’t return to the Big Game this year.
  • Olay also won’t bring its female-focused messaging back to the Super Bowl, after airing commercials in the last two games.
  • Pepsi-Cola will not run an in-game spot for its flagship cola brand this year, although Pepsi is still sponsoring the half-time show.
  • Pop-Tarts also won’t be part of the Big Game, after showcasing its pretzel flavored product in 2020.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups won’t be part of the Big Game.
  • Sabra Hummus won’t return after making its debut last year.

Now, sources familiar with the network’s NFL pricing say ViacomCBS is charging $5.5 million for 30-second spots during Super Bowl 2021.

Where is all this money likely to go?

Well, whether they want to build brand awareness, boost traffic, generate qualified leads, or improve conversions, many of the marketing executives at the brands listed above learned during Brandcast Delivered, YouTube’s 9th annual ‘NewFront’ event on June 25, 2020, that:

  • YouTube is #1 in ad-supported reach among cord-cutter and cord-never households on connected TV devices in April 2020 in the U.S., according to Comscore.
  • YouTube has the highest reach and viewing hours among ad-supported streaming services in March 2020 in the U.S., according to Comscore.
  • YouTube reaches 77% of AVOD households and makes up 41% of ad-supported video streaming watch time in March 2020 in the U.S., according to Comscore.
  • YouTube reached more 18-49-year-olds than all linear TV networks combined in the month of March 2020, according to a Nielsen study.
  • 70% of viewers say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube.
  • TrueView for action ads generated over 950 million conversions in the past 12 months.
  • Across 55 Nielsen Total Ad Rating studies commissioned by Google, 66% of the target audience reached by YouTube was incremental to TV.
  • On average, 61% of incremental sales came from new customers across 59 NCSolutions Sales Effect studies commissioned by Google.
  • In the U.S. alone, over 100 million people watch YouTube and YouTube on their TV screens each month.
  • Watch time for YouTube and YouTube TV viewed on TV screens grew 80% year over year in the U.S.
  • Watch time of live content on TV screens increased by 250% in March 2020.
  • Over 60% of signed-in viewers of YouTube on TV screens watched a video published in the last 7 days (March 11-April 10, 2020).

It’s no wonder savvy brand marketing executives may be asking, “Is YouTube the alternative to running TV spots during the Super Bowl again this year?”

Is YouTube the Alternative to Super Bowl TV Ads?

Now, many decision-makers in the search industry and digital marketing world have been asking me a similar question for the past 12 years: “What is the best platform to use for developing a strong presence for my videos in Google?”

When I take a look at which platform they are currently using, far too often it’s Vimeo, which has 240 million active monthly users. By comparison, over 2 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month.

Well, that’s likely to change as more SEO professionals read last month’s post by Eric Enge in the Perficient blog, “Why YouTube Is the Best Platform for Publishing Videos – Here’s Why #255.”

In it, Enge shares the findings of the second update of their study on video rankings in Google and YouTube.

This includes some data on the presence of videos in Google’s SERPs for the home improvement and DIY-related market.

It illustrates just how dominant YouTube is in the Google search results: One or more YouTube videos appear in 85.9% – or 6,595 out of 7,678 keywords – of the SERPs.

He adds, “Nearly 98% of the videos that show up in the number one position are from YouTube. This percentage gradually declines as you move down through the top 10, but it’s still more than 87% by position 10.”

Enge goes on to reveal, “83% of all the YouTube videos that we found in our data were actually contained within carousels.”

He adds, “In contrast, 64% for non-YouTube videos were found in organic search results and only 21% in carousels.”

Enge concludes:

“What we see is that the best platform for you to use by far in developing a presence for your videos in Google is YouTube. While non-YouTube videos appear to be strongly present in traditional organic search results, the reality is the queries that have search features (carousels, featured snippets and rich snippets) are the ones where video is more important in the results overall.”

He also notes,

“The other consideration that I don’t want to leave out here is, YouTube remains a very important search engine in its own right, so there is search volume to be earned from YouTube as well.”

In addition, you can watch a video featuring Enge on Perficient’s YouTube channel, YouTube Is the Best Platform for Publishing Videos: Here’s Why.

SEO professionals and digital marketers should use this data to convince the decision-makers at their organization or clients to shift from using Vimeo to using YouTube.

And, if they happen to work at (or with) one of the brands skipping Super Bowl LV, they have an opportunity that only comes along once in a generation to make the case that YouTube is the best alternative to running TV spots during the Super Bowl again in the future.

In other words, this is another watershed moment in the history of advertising.

And we can save marketing executives at the brands that we work for or with from “conformity.”

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Image Credits

All images granted permission to the author, January 2021