By Lauren Donalson, Senior Director of National Accounts, PureCars
The Super Bowl, the largest sporting event of the year, is just around the corner (airing Feb. 7 on CBS). While there will always be a discrepancy as to which team truly deserves to make it to the Big Game, we are guaranteed to observe and relish in one of the greatest quarterback vs. quarterback matches in current history. Beyond the on-field enthusiasm, the game (and TV programming) will look and feel much different for obvious reasons brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A huge spectacle of the game each year, Super Bowl ads are known to be the most eye-appealing of any television spot automotive brands and dealers can buy. One might even say that advertisements excite fans more than the game itself. Currently, these advertisements alone attract millions of people that don’t even watch the sport. A 2020 study reported, on average, just 15% of people would choose not to see commercials during the Super Bowl, and 79% believe Super Bowl commercials are entertaining and feel they are part of the super bowl experience.
The Automotive Industry Traditionally Plays an Immense Part in Super Bowl Advertising
For decades, automotive brands have played a pivotal role in Super Bowl ads. According to a report in AdAge, last year’s Super Bowl yielded $450 million in ad revenue for FOX, $100 million more than 2019, according to data from Kantar. The price of a 30-second spot last year was also up 9% from five years ago and is expected to exceed $5.6 million this year.
As we have witnessed throughout the year of 2020, automakers and dealers have pulled back on traditional TV spend (including the Super Bowl). As of early January 2021, surprisingly fewer brands signed up for major television spots during the game. Even brands like Hyundai announced they are not purchasing an ad spot this year.
This Year’s Game and Atmosphere Will Surely Feel Different
Along with the changes in ad spend, ad creativity will look different as well. The at-home ambiance is likely look way different this year – spectators will be less likely to host their distinctive festive Super Bowl watch parties, rather opting for smaller gatherings instead.
Past Super Bowls used to bring out the excitement and anticipation in its spectators, now the general feeling of today’s fan is filled with precarious uncertainty. Social problems such as COVID-19, social injustice, and political turbulence have affected everyone immensely over the last 12 months, and brands are taking note. Therefore, without a doubt, brands that are planning television spots during the game are planning to relay a different message, feel, and overall tone in comparison with past years.
Consumer brands will most likely not play up humor in their message this year, instead, auto brands will focus on the health aspects of operations instead of new features and new product launches.
Regardless of all of that, automotive dealers have a great opportunity to reach and enlighten intended audiences leading up to and during the Super Bowl this year. This opportunity goes beyond the largest of the OEMs and encompasses everyone involved with the automotive industry, including local dealers.
How Digital Advertising Opportunities Look This Year
How can dealer groups and dealers capitalize on one of the most-watched events of the year? There will be plenty of material leading up to and during the game itself that entices both the football fans and non-fans while watching the game. A large percentage of this content and programming can be found on streaming television services, which harness a larger share of viewers today.
OTT (Over-the-Top) Video, also known as CTV (Connected TV), refers to any video received to the end-user without the help of broadcast airwaves, or a set top cable or satellite TV box. OTT spectators are inclusive of Smart TVs from a variety of manufacturers, and Connected TV Devices encompassing Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, etc., and is also inclusive of other online delivered video on platforms like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, Facebook, and Instagram.
Today’s online environment offers a supreme medium for the conveyance and utilization of video advertising appearances and formats. Unlike conventional television, the internet is diverse in how it relays content and is a far more granular and targeted environment for the delivery of advertising messages. In other terms, OTT matches the reach of traditional-TV households and eliminates ad waste by focusing on consumers shown to be in-market for your vehicles or service. When dealers are looking to relay messages to a multitude of people, OTT has suitably emerged as a cost-efficient, results-effective medium.
OTT has become crucial for dealers and agency partners looking for a complete-funnel solution to grasp audience reach and distribute messages to local car shoppers. OTT already extends to more households (74%) than traditional-TV households (62%) today, and that trend is not slowing up. Industry guestimates show that OTT households are anticipated to grow 82% by 2023 (1), and cord-cutter and cord-never households will expand to 44% of the population(2) during the same period.
Another benefit of OTT for local dealers is cost. It is estimated that OTT content advertising is six-to-eight times as effective compared with regular everyday broadcast, and as much as 20 times more effective than cable. To make the deal even more appealing, dealers can be ultra-targeted in reaching audiences in specific regions, such as advertising in front of only particular age groups or other demographics of people consuming certain shows or channels on Hulu Live, for example.
Having a well-devised OTT media strategy, combined with other digital advertising plans that comprise search and social marketing, can assist local dealers in amplifying their messages in front of a diverse set of Super Bowl fanatics this year. With the right steps taken, the experience can hopefully bring everyone across the goal line.
1: eMarketer, Connected TV Households, July 2019, US Population
2: eMarketer, July 2019, US Population
About the Author
Lauren Donalson is senior director of national accounts for PureCars, a leading automotive dealer advertising and attribution technology provider (download PureCars’ latest COVID-19 Report for auto dealers).