Is That Super Bowl Ad a Smart Marketing Strategy?

Super Bowl 2014The Super Bowl is the most-watched event on live television. Marketers spend millions to buy 30-second ads.

But many of those ads will fail. How can you tell if a Super Bowl ad is a smart marketing strategy?

Here’s an encore post about to evaluate the marketing effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising from my viewpoint as a marketing consultant. I’ll be tweeting comments throughout the game; follow me on Twitter: @jeangianfagna

More than 100 million people will be watching this year’s Super Bowl. That’s why marketers are willing to spend millions for a 30-second spot.

When you have an audience that big and that eager to hear your message, your ad had better be great.

But how do you know if an ad campaign or creative concept will be a winner — or be worthy of such a huge marketing investment? What makes an ad effective?

As a marketing consultant, I believe the principles of great advertising are the same whether an ad appears in a mega-event like the Super Bowl or in a small industry trade publication.

Here are seven criteria I use to assess the effectiveness of advertising in a smart marketing strategy. Keep these factors in mind when you’re evaluating Sunday’s Super Bowl ads:

  1. Does the ad connect with the target audience emotionally? Dramatic video techniques can make you marvel at what’s happening on the screen, but flash doesn’t always equal effectiveness. The most memorable and engaging ads do more than get your attention — they provoke an emotional response in the audience.
  2. Is the creative approach a simple one you can grasp immediately? Or do you have to work at it to get it? If it’s the latter, the audience probably won’t bother.
  3. Does the ad support and exemplify the brand? Lots of ads are clever and creative, but too often, the ad’s premise has little relationship to the marketer’s brand promise or branding strategy.
  4. Is the product essential to the story? Or could you insert any similar product and have the same ad? The best creative concepts integrate the product so deeply into the story that the ad couldn’t work without it.
  5. Does the ad make you feel differently about a product or marketer? Does it change your opinion or get you to think about a marketer or product in a new and different way that increases your likelihood of buying the product?
  6. Is the ad part of an integrated marketing campaign? Does the ad have “legs” – the ability to carry a full marketing campaign in multiple media? Or is it a one-time message that will be quickly forgotten?
  7. Most important: Do you remember the ad for the creative or the product? Two days after you’ve seen an ad, will you remember its creative approach or the product being advertised? Ideally, you’ll remember both (see #4 above), but if you only remember the creative concept, the ad has failed.

What About Other Ways to Measure Advertising?

Of course, there are many ways to measure advertising – how well an ad is recalled in surveys, the number of views an ad receives on YouTube before and after the game, the level of social media engagement, or the number of visits to the advertiser’s website or Facebook page.

While all these metrics are important, the bottom line is how well advertising drives product and service sales as part of a smart marketing strategy. My advice is to look beyond the numbers that gauge immediate marketplace buzz and use the criteria above to evaluate advertising’s long-term strategic value.

Do you agree with my evaluation criteria? How else would you assess the effectiveness of an ad?

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