The Super Bowl XLVI puts television advertising on the radar – is paying out $3.5 million for a 30 second spot really justified when digital marketing services come at a fraction of that cost?
WRITTEN BY VANESSA CLARK, MOBIFLOCK CO-FOUNDER
There’s nothing like a Super Bowl to put television advertising firmly on the radar, as far afield as the southern tip of Africa, even if you’ve started consuming most of your media online. At $3.5 million for 30 seconds, and up to $4 million for the premium slots, brands must still be seeing value in this traditional marketing method.
But what does this mean for companies trying to work out whether to stick with the tried and tested traditional marketing methods vs. embracing the brave new world of digital media, in all its fresh-out-the-box shiny glory? Whether you’re trying to figure out how to grow a construction business or scale up your ecommerce company, this article is for you.
Let’s start at the beginning and take a look at the numbers, using South Africa and its 50 million-odd population as an example: TV penetration per household was sitting at around 72 percent in 2012 and currently Generations, the most popular TV show in the country, gets around 6 million viewers a week according to TAMS (television audience measurement survey) ratings. Radio is the giant, with 88.5 percent of South African adults listening to the radio per week, spending more than 3.5 hours listening per day, according to RAMS (radio audience measurement survey) stats. The largest South African radio station, Ukhozi, has in excess of 6.6 million listeners per week. Total circulation of the 836 members of the Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC) in South Africa is a notch over 34.5 million readers – although these are unlikely to be unique.
Now let’s move into the digital camp and take a look at the reach here: according to the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) member sites saw 12.9 million unique browsers, accessing 424.4 million page views, but this comes from a base of around 6 million internet users. In addition, there were 1.5 million mobile unique browsers accessing 40.3 million mobile page views. Mobile penetration is famously sitting at more than 100 percent – although this doesn’t mean that every South African has a cell phone, with many people owning more than one SIM card. The country has 4.8 million registered Facebook users – just less than 10 percent of the total population and 91 percent of the total online population.
While these stats are in no way meant to be an apples-for-apples comparison, what do they show us? At the very simplest level, the Super Bowl advertisers are right – stick to traditional advertising channels to reach the largest audience.
But wait a minute. Why does Forrester predict that online ad spend will eclipse TV spend in the next four years? Closer to home, a DMMA report says that while advertisers currently allocate 10.7 percent of their current annual media budget to digital platforms, “this far higher than what [they had] assume for years”.
It’s not so simple, is it?
Let’s take a closer look at the Super Bowl advertising this year and see what is really going on. This year was notable in that so many advertisers released previews or even the full ad online in advance of the Super Bowl. In some cases even extended versions of the ad were produced. By the time the 111 million viewers saw the ads on TV during the sporting event, millions had also seen, commented and shared the ads on YouTube. Far from turning the main event into a damp squib, this appears to have heightened anticipation, garnered the ads themselves even more column inches and undoubtedly given the advertisers more bang for their 3.5 million bucks.
Now factor in the unprecedented ability people have to comment on the ads while watching the show via social media, further extending the reach of those 30 seconds. This speaks to Nielsen’s findings last year that tablets are driving the use of multiple devices, with a peak in tablet use after hours, very often in conjunction with TV viewing.
A local example is that according to ABC, in South Africa, 20 percent of radio – that traditional media giant – is listened to via cell phones. With only 15 percent smartphone penetration in the country, it is likely that this is via the FM functionality that comes standard with many basic handsets.
This points to the co-existence of various new and not so new media, and the ability they have to amplify each other. Take the popularity of something like radio (which famously wasn’t killed by TV), add in the reach of mobile phones, throw the social nature of digital media in the mix and the typical marketing Punch and Judy show suddenly starts looking like a happy marriage.
So marketers, brands and agencies, stop fretting about the numbers and looking at new and traditional media as siloed opposites. Rather go back to basics. Who is your audience? What is the best combination of ways to reach them? And what is going to delight them?
Vanessa Clark is the co-founder of Mobiflock, www.mobiflock.com, a mobile safety and security company offering a suite of services for businesses, individuals and parents. She’s a startup junkie, ran her own public relations agency, is ex-Clickatell and Band-X, and was a London-based telecoms journalist in the olden days before blogs, Facebook and Twitter. She doesn’t like marketing weasel words, but does like people making information flow more easily and safely around the world. She especially likes being in the mobile industry in Africa.