By: Michael Ahearn - VP Customer Development & Strategy, Sinch for Marketing
While the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams prepare for this year’s Super Bowl, brands are also gearing up for the largest advertising event of the year. Super Bowl ads continue to evolve in creativity and, of course, cost. This year’s matchup is achieving record price tags for TV spots, with NBCUniversal stating that it sold 30-second ads for the Super Bowl for $6.5 million each, up $1 million from last year.
Even with viewership declining, Super Bowl ads are one of the farthest-reaching mechanics within the advertising ecosystem due to their potential of captivating an audience of millions with just one spot. However, does this massive reach translate to results — especially for companies fighting for this ad space that was once considered the ultimate marker of an elite brand?
Reach without measurable achievement is questionable. I’m not here to say that Super Bowl ads don’t work. There are voices, however, in the marketer’s mind asking whether they’re earning the maximum points in their quest for engagement and conversion.
Blending above the line and below the line advertising
Traditionally, above the line (ATL) advertising and below the line (BTL) advertising have been separate. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. ATL advertising is traditional advertising: you get somebody’s attention, you say something to them, and hopefully, they remember your brand and/or act on something. BTL advertising is direct marketing, where you communicate to consumers, ask them to do something, and then you can measure their action and the impact on your business.
Brands tend to operate in either an ATL or BTL mindset, but now is the time for these two categories to work in tandem. Think about it: Why wouldn’t you prioritize using high-reach ATL advertising, like a Super Bowl ad, to integrate a direct marketing type of experience where consumers can react in real-time? It’s the best of both worlds — brands can get their reach, directly communicate with consumers, and still be creative. Most importantly, they can inspire consumers to act and further engage with the brand.
To bring home the big win, brands should rethink their ATL advertising strategies – capitalize on the creative that sparks emotional connections with consumers by also giving them fun ways to participate and engage.
Get creative, but also make ads interactive and conversational
There’s some debate over whether QR codes or keywords are best for effective interactive ads. The first criteria in this question is whether the viewer can act on the call to action. Many, if not most, deployments of QR codes only display codes at the very end of a broadcast ad, making it nearly impossible to grab your phone and capture it with your camera in time. It’s like a Western quick draw contest. On the other hand, if the QR code is persistently displayed throughout the 15 or 30-second ad, the viewer fumbling for their phone, focusing their shot, and then clicking it certainly distracts them from viewing/listening to the ad itself. Consider instead the trusty keyword and short code call to action. Displaying an easy-to-remember keyword and short code persistently in an ad is less disruptive to viewers and gives them an easy way to engage on their mobile phones after the ad is over. It’s a superior experience with benefits for brands and viewers.
If you want to take it a step further, try creating interactive ads that involve group participation! Say you're sitting with a bunch of friends watching the Super Bowl, and an ad comes on with an actionable component – typically you’re asked to interact individually. What if the call to action addressed you and the people around you? You’re more apt to do something if you’re doing it with others (when was the last time you feasted on wings, jalapeño poppers, and nachos by yourself?). Adding a social component to interactive ads can dramatically increase your reach and engagement. This may also lead to a conversational, shared brand experience that is a force multiplier.
Now, if you want to inspire engagement with your brand that creates a powerful bond and leaves a lasting impact – and taking chances isn’t exactly your style – then I’d like to introduce you to conversational marketing. Marketers can now strike up two-way conversations with consumers at scale through integrated messaging experiences in conversational ads. Whether it’s via SMS/MMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, or any other messaging channel, you can take advantage of traditional advertising mediums, like Super Bowl ads, to start one-to-one dialogues with individual consumers that, in turn, kick off rewarding relationships with your brand. At the very least, a clever Super Bowl ad can help score new opt-ins for future mobile messaging campaigns that drive new customer acquisitions and increased revenue!
Businesses already see the value of mobile messaging, but innovations that create personalized, contextual customer experiences across multiple channels are still ongoing. Recent Sinch-sponsored research published in a new IDC white paper shows 62% of enterprises are using at least two messaging channels for conversational customer engagement, while only 22% use more than three. Just like we reach for the remote to control the television, we rely on our mobile phones to manage and conduct our everyday lives. Given the data, it’s clear that opportunity awaits the visionary marketers who extend brand experiences beyond a prime time 30-second ad spot and build deeper customer relationships using a broader mix of mobile-optimized channels.
Rethinking brand experiences
This is not just the Super Bowl that we’re talking about — this is true for the majority of mass marketing strategies. We need to start rethinking what an authentic, engaging brand experience entails. Continue to rouse audiences with creative ads but also open the door to meaningful conversations, satisfying engagements, and resilient relationships.
Anytime you have the attention of a large audience, seize the opportunity to inspire action and be sure to invite consumers to participate in a brand experience that’s uniquely theirs.
No matter where you are in your digital journey, Sinch for Marketing can help develop a future-proof messaging strategy for your brand. Our solutions and services dramatically impact KPIs across the customer lifecycle: acquisition, conversion, average basket, NPS, and retention.
Get in touch to discover how we customize our solutions and strategies to your business needs.