Super Bowl Ads & The ROI Gap: How Social Activation Measurably Grows Business Outcomes

While hashtags are historically used as a barometer of the success of an ad and how much water cooler talk it receives, they can be so much more.

This year’s Super Bowl is a landmark. And not just because it is the 50th anniversary of American football’s most anticipated match-up. Significantly, 30-second spots for this year’s Super Bowl are selling for a record $5 million, a jump from the $4.5 million charged last year.

Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. TV with over 114.4 million viewers. So while the fee reflects the audience size, activating a Super Bowl advertisement with a social component can help brands extend their reach, drive action and importantly increase the return on investment of this important investment.

In years past, advertisers have done a fair job of including a social component in their Super Bowl ads. Last year, half (28 of 56) included a hashtag in their ad. And while hashtags are historically used as a barometer of the success of an ad and how much water cooler talk it receives, they can be so much more. Let’s dive into how and why brands should harness the power of hashtags to activate their ad and drive real brand-impacting action:

Consumers Demand Utility – Consumers want a better experience. Yes, they love watching entertaining Super Bowl spots but more than that, consumers measure brands by how much utility they provide. Let’s face it, social consumers have a mobile remote control in their pocket that they can use to not only engage, but more importantly, transact with a brand by simply setting off triggers like hashtags. This omni-channel remote control can convert marketing instantly, without forms, redirects, or other frictions.

Engagement is Table Stakes – The industry benchmark for measuring the impact of social media marketing is engagement. However, engagement metrics such as likes, favs, shares, pins, check-ins, or retweets, cannot be effectively mapped to ROI. Conversely, activated ads allow brands to bridge beyond the sheer measure of eyeballs and engagement to ROI through conversion activities.

Conversion – Super Bowl ad costs rose 11 percent in just one year. For this reason, and so many more, social media must evolve to better support business objectives. While moments like Oreo’s infamous ‘Dunk in the Dark’ were possible because they listened, listening is really the minimum brands should be doing. Instead, successful companies will be the ones that connect listening to conversion and sales. To do so, brands must activate hashtags for instant conversion; acquire consumer data in exchange for a commensurate reward/premium; and track consumer participation. The result is earned media, new customers, and instantly measurable conversion tied to social identity, all delivered neatly to the brand’s CRM.

ROI – While much will be said about this year’s cadre of Super Bowl ads, most important to a brand should be conversion. Of all the people who saw a given ad, how many of them expressed intent to participate and of those, who actually converted? These statistics enable brands to measure the ROI of their advertising spend. Activated ads are powerful because they enable marketing conversion from any advertisement across any marketing channel. In the case of a $5 million Super Bowl ad, the case for activating the ad and measuring its ROI becomes that much more significant.

CRM – There’s one missing ingredient in most all customer relationship management (CRM) databases – social media identity and data tied to marketing conversions. Brands that are able to connect social identities to their CRM system profiles and populate them with valuable ‘know your customer’ data across touchpoints are able to vastly improve their marketing, targeting, and effectiveness, creating a closed-loop continuous improvement process.

With strategies such as these, companies are able to do much more than create continuity in marketing message between channels. They can use social media to provide the utility that customers demand today, going far beyond a top-of-funnel focus on audience, buzz and engagement. Moreover, by activating their Super Bowl advertisements, brands can expand their reach, learn more about their most engaged consumers, and most importantly, drive outcomes with conversion-based activities that can measurably impact the business.

Chris Teso is the CEO and founder of Chirpify, a mobile and social customer loyalty platform.