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Can going early deliver a touchdown?

On the 5th of February at 6:30pm American Eastern Standard time, over 110 million Americans turned on their televisions and tuned in to one the biggest sporting events, and media events, in the world – the Super Bowl. But for many viewers, the sporting spectacle is not the main event. Every year advertisers spend millions of dollars, both creating and placing advertisements in the lengthy telecast. The gargantuan audience the Super Bowl commands means advertisers are pushed to create their best work, and many memorable campaigns have come out of Super Bowl Sunday.

The last few years, however, have seen an interesting trend develop among Super Bowl advertisers. Every year, an increasing number of advertisers premiere their flagship campaigns before the big game, releasing them online on YouTube or other video streaming services. So why would advertisers relinquish the impact of debuting on one of the highest rating spots on television? And is there anything to learn from this strategy?

Early Engagement

A cursory look at online media, TV news or a newspaper in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl would reveal the huge amount of discussion and debate which surrounds the game as it approaches. Online discussion boards, comment threads and social media feeds are filled with fans offering opinions, analysing the teams and predicting outcomes. With fans already heavily engaged in the event, it makes sense for advertisers targeting these fans to engage with them as well. By releasing the ad early, advertisers can ride the pre-game hype and, through fans sharing the ad, become a part of the conversation.

In the digital media landscape, engaging with your target market can often mean meeting them, rather than hoping they come to you. With the right timing and the right strategy, you can connect with an engaged, excited market and embed yourself in your audience’s conversation.

Multiple media channels

Despite the popularity of the event, the Super Bowl does not capture the attention of every American viewer. By placing their advertisements online before the event, Super Bowl advertisers can reach parts of the market they would have missed had they just run the ad on TV. By connecting with a whole range of new viewers with creative and unique campaigns, the ads often become as newsworthy as the game itself.

With modern audiences fragmented across a variety of media, placing yourself in a variety of channels means you can ensure that you reach all of your audience with a campaign.

Bang for your buck

The cold hard reality for companies advertising on Super Bowl Sunday is that it costs a lot of money. Shooting high quality, creative campaigns, often with high-profile spokespersons and airing them during such a high rating event is an expensive exercise, so businesses want to get the most out of their campaigns. Posting and promoting the advertisement on a video streaming service means that advertisers can reach a big audience for a relatively low cost. In recent years, many of the Super Bowl ads posted on YouTube prior to the game have gone viral, reaching huge audiences long before kick-off.

This is a lesson for any company looking to promote themselves without blowing their marketing budgets, well targeted online campaigns, built on quality content, can deliver much better value-for-money than advertisements in traditional media.