February 12, 2016
Super Bowl advertising spend: gambling, cosmetic surgery and appliances
Els De Witte, Marketing Director EMEA, OpenX
Each year, the Super Bowl gives the US economy a powerful boost, generating hundreds of billions of pounds for the host state alone. The rate of food consumption is breath-taking — second only to Thanksgiving — with 49.2 million cases of beer sold and 1.23 billion chicken wings eaten on game day.
Brands are understandably keen to capitalise on the hype around the Super Bowl – which attracted a highly desirable audience of 111.9 million viewers this year. This means ad spend is high – in fact, 2015 saw a total of $345 millionspent on advertising during the Super Bowl’s commercial breaks alone.
But the question is: which categories of advertising see online spend increase during the Super Bowl period? To find out, we compared activity on the OpenX US Exchange from the weekend before the Super Bowl, and the weekend of the big game itself, which generated some fascinating results.
Who ramped up spend?
It’s no surprise that ad spend on appliances was boosted to tempt consumers into purchasing new televisions to watch the game – this category saw an uplift of 36%. A second industry that increased ad spend, this time by 38%, was internet services – perhaps to capitalise on consumers looking for faster bandwidths to watch the game online or keep up with social conversations and expert analysis. Unpredictably, and inexplicably, ad spend on cosmetic medical services saw a significant uplift of 35%, as did beauty & hygiene – by 25%.
Who reduced spend?
Ad spend on dental decreased by 19% as consumers were preoccupied with fizzy drinks and sugary treats during the game. However, alcohol ad spend also saw an unexpected decrease of 55% – particularly surprising when we consider that beer and the Super Bowl are perceived to go hand-in-hand.
Despite the U.S presidential race being in full swing, politics-based ad spend actually decreased by 54% – presumably as politicians eased off the digital advertising campaign trail to make way for the popularity (and expense) of Super Bowl ads.
Who made the biggest changes in spend?
The category that saw the most significant uplift was gambling. Companies poured budgets into gambling hoping to entice consumers to bet on the outcome of the game, resulting in an uplift of 352% for the category. Perhaps aware that little else would be on the minds of American citizens, ad spend on education decreased by 16%, and careers by 18%.
The Super Bowl is a key event for brands looking to engage consumers on a large scale, but this does not mean that campaigns should be targeted to static interests. While uplift in areas such as appliances, gambling and internet services was hardly surprising, the increase in spend for cosmetic services and beauty shows that audiences are changing, and brands need to change with them. While advertisers may have missed a trick by decreasing political spend during elections, this year’s spend shows a forward-thinking attitude that is set to increase the impact of Super Bowl ads by enhancing their diversity.