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Industry Contributor 3 Feb 2020 - 2 min read

Tech giants pour into Super Bowl ads - brands still need big event TV

By Josh McDonnell, Senior Writer

Another Super Bowl has come and gone, regardless of who won (it was the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Fransisco 49ers with the final score 31-20, by the way), brands, agencies and consumers alike were all once again drawn to who was willing to shell out the hefty $5.6 million for a 30-second spot.


Key points:

  • Big brands are still flocking to the event, as Fox claims to have sold out of inventory in November 2019.
  • First-time advertisers Facebook, Walmart and Quibi say more about the value of reach than clicks
  • $5.6m can still buy a lot more in digital media, but is the trade-off worth it?

Despite a decline in Super Bowl's traditional TV audiences, ad prices remain high and inventory continues to sell out in advance - increasingly to social media platforms.

Every year, an argument is made that the cost far outweighs the overall value of the reach Super Bowl delivers. But that's not an argument the digital platforms are buying: Facebook and Walmart this year made their debut appearance in the big game's ad breaks.

Joining them is Quibi, the upcoming American short-form mobile video platform that believes itself to be a challenger to Netflix and TikTok alike. All three of these brands have their own unique reason to join the long list hoping to score a touchdown in 2020.

Facebook's intentions are obvious as their ad appeals to "the people", urging users that it can do "More Together" and is "Ready to Rock", leaning on familiar faces, Sylvester 'Rocky' Stallone and comedian Chris Rock. It's a big cry for community engagement, plain and simple.

The irony should not be lost here. The same goes for Quibi: Two online players both with intentions of taking eyeballs away from the medium they are utilising.

Walmart also has some clear intentions, as it bids to maintain its lead in physical retail against the  digital threat presented by Amazon. For that reason, it should come as no shock that the massive 'Famous Visitors' work leans heavily on its famous greeters and customer service.

Conversely, a Digiday article this week, offered a breakdown of what $5.6m could buy you in digital media. It stands as follows:

  • 2.8 million clicks on Walmart search ads
  • One-third of a Peacock sponsorship (NBC's new streaming platform)
  • 862 million digital out-of-home impressions
  • 16 million clicks on Instacart ads
  • 37 days of TikTok hashtag challenges
  • 70 million impressions from Hulu pause ads
  • 1.4 billion impressions on Twitter
  • 560 Instagram posts by ‘Bachelor’ stars

While this all looks to be worth much more than 30-seconds of possibly forgettable creative, I would argue that when it comes down to needing to make a bold and broad message, TV, namely big event television, is for now still the top dog in media. Facebook appears to agree.

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Josh McDonnell, Senior Writer


Josh McDonnell is Mi3's Senior Writer, responsible for covering weekly news analysis of industry innovation, people moves, talent development and broader marketing trends and issues. He has been a media journalist for over three years, reporting on issues across the agency, owner and client landscape.
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