Sunday’s Super Bowl proves once and for all that the ads themselves tend to be much, much bigger than the game. With record-low overnight ratings and an overall disappointed fan base, it’s easy to write off Super Bowl LIII as another forgettable sporting event.
But most of the bright spots on Sunday’s telecast came from the nearly 50 or so minutes of commercials aired during the broadcast. Both marketers and non-marketers know all too well that national ads make up a huge part of the Super Bowl’s appeal, with many even suggesting that commercials bring more entertainment value than the gameplay itself.
51% of the Super Bowl’s audience tune in for the commercials rather than for the action
In fact, a Nielsen survey of 25,000 households reports that 51% of the Super Bowl’s audience tune in for the commercials rather than for the action on the field. With viewership numbers ranging more than 100 million, that’s a lot of unblinking eyeballs to reach.
That’s why advertisers continue to shell out over $5.1 million for a 30-second ad spot, with 2019’s total Super Bowl ad spending projected to reach a cool $450 million.
This year’s parade of ads featured many different themes which I find really interesting, like the empowerment of women, subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to AI’s rise, and nostalgia-inducing 90s throwbacks.
Commercials aired on Super Bowl LIII also shed some much-needed light on a key activity we do as marketers: lead generation.
But the most important takeaways from commercials aired on Super Bowl LIII also shed some much-needed light on a key activity we do as marketers: lead generation. The best ads from Sunday’s broadcast teach a few key lessons to help us consistently score a lead generation touchdown:
1. Interact with (don’t just reach out to) prospects
Expensify’s ad spot shows the best use of inbound and outbound channels to engage prospects I’ve seen so far. The ad features Adam Scott and 2 Chainz in a real-life business situation where having a tool like Expensify really comes in handy.
Aside from hitting the right notes in terms of promoting the product while keeping it engaging for its target audience, the spot also scored some serious marketing points by being the only interactive commercial among all the Super Bowl ads aired last Sunday.
Viewers get a chance to win giveaways by using the camera scanning feature in the Expensify mobile app to scan receipts for items shown throughout the video. The ad also increases viewers’ chances of winning by letting them invite others to sign up for Expensify via a special link.
For B2B marketers, the lesson is clear. It’s not enough that you simply reach out to leads where they are through multi-channel marketing. You also need to make sure they respond and engage back. That requires a bit of interaction.
2. Don’t stop after just one attempt
In 2018, Tide was the clear winner of the Super Bowl LII free-for-all ad brawl. Tile’s clever meta-ads fetched some pretty impressive results after their national debut: double-digit growth for Tide Ultra Oxi sales, 45,000 #TideAd tweets, and 640 related articles published.
A key reason why the Tide commercials became such a hit with audiences last year was that the ads were shown on multiple spots, one in each quarter, making Tide’s presence felt throughout the whole event.
This year, a number of advertisers followed Tide’s example, most notably T-Mobile and Bud Light, with ads running in all four quarters. Brands like Google, Michelob Ultra, Verizon, Toyota, and WeatherTech each had two spots.
When taken together, Google’s two Super Bowl ads, “Job Search for Veterans” and “100 Billion Words”, both gave a deeper meaning to what the tech company can offer, especially with the way they tout the impact their technology has on people.
In lead generation, marketers know it takes at least six touches to generate a valid lead. That’s why stopping at only a single point of contact doesn’t help your campaign.
3. Humanize, don’t just personalize
I’ve written about humanizing and not just personalizing lead generation touches before. Personalization is such a key lead generation tactic, and marketers automate much of the personalization process to make it scale, that we run the risk of handling leads and prospects as mere database records.
Amazon took a fresh approach at an old Super Bowl staple: Alexa-themed jokes. In the tech giant’s star-studded “Not Everything Makes the Cut” ad, Amazon held up a mirror in front of itself and poked fun at the Amazon Echo’s current state of affairs—with all the cringe-inducing hilarity you’d expect from a robotic butler in its early stages of development.
As marketers, we always make sure to position our product or brand in the best possible light. But by focusing too much on ensuring that everything moves like clockwork and that things be as precise as possible, we’re losing sight of the fact that prospects listen to humans and, more importantly, they buy from humans.
4. Make things part of a bigger whole
Right now, the average marketer relies on 8 different channels to generate leads and uses at least 20 tools in their marketing tech stack. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as today’s marketers juggle different roles and responsibilities in the lead generation process. That’s why most of us marketers simply can’t see the forest for the trees.
But a tactic, campaign, or program won’t amount to anything if they don’t fit into a bigger whole. A tactic needs to fit in a campaign, a campaign in a program, a program in a strategy, and so on.
The impact of the most effective Super Bowl ads start way before and go well beyond their 30-second spot. That’s because great Super Bowl commercials are always part of an even bigger campaign or ad strategy.
Take, for example, the widely-lauded NFL 100 Super Bowl ad where we see this idea in action. Also called “The 100-Year Game”, the add celebrates the NFL’s upcoming 100th season with noteworthy cameos and scenes, enabling the NFL commercial to win USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter.
5. Understand that no pain means no gain
We all know that pain points drive purchase decisions in the B2B world. Lead generation success depends on how well you can identify your prospects’ wants and needs. Only then will you be able to present a solution and kick start the process of turning the prospect into a customer.
Hyundai’s Super Bowl spot “The Elevator” shows some clever uses of pain points to position their product as a potential solution. The commercial showcases Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance Program, an app designed to make buying a car as hassle-free as possible.
While the B2B buying process isn’t as linear or simple as car shopping, the basic idea is really similar. Capturing and converting leads at different points in the funnel require clear understanding and communication on pain points.
Conclusion: I think it’s only fair to say that ads really made last Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast enjoyable. With these five lead generation lessons, it’s been very educational, too.
What was your favorite Super Bowl LIII ad?