Less than one third of 2017’s Super Bowl advertisers returned in 2018

The Super Bowl's advertisers might win in the PR stakes, but Content Brewery founder Malcolm Auld has unpacked some post-match stats that reveal a less impressive angle.

The Super Bowl is one of the marketing industry’s favourite events, apart from award shows. The accompanying statistics are always interesting too. The tonnes of chicken wings and hot dogs consumed, along with lakes of beer guzzled, always makes fascinating reading.

But there is one statistic I find most interesting. It’s the percentage of repeat purchase by marketers that advertised the previous year. In simple terms, here are the numbers:

2017 – 54 advertisers

2018 – 42 advertisers

The full list (Click to enlarge)

Two things to note. The first is the drop in number of brands advertising. The number fell from 54 in 2017 to 42 in 2018. This is a decline of roughly 22%.

Secondly, is the number of repeat advertisers from 2017 to 2018. Only 17 brands backed up again in 2018. This equates to roughly 31% of 2017’s advertisers.

Or in other words, almost 70% of last year’s advertisers did not return this year.

I’m not sure about you dear reader, but if I was selling a media opportunity that only occurred once a year, and only 30% of my customers returned for a repeat purchase, I’d be a tad concerned. But that’s just me.

I suppose if they sell all the space at an increasing rate, who cares if customers don’t come back? There’s always another sucker ready to believe the sales pitch.

Though I also get a kick (excuse the football pun) out of the fact that marketers use good old-fashioned public relations to promote their Super Bowl ads. For those who’ve only worked in marketing for five minutes, that’s what you may know as earned media. Go figure, a marketer uses publicity to promote its ads. What’s old is new again, again.

I’ve also just learned of another alarming statistic: 64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.

Research consultancy Communicus has been tracking and trying to measure the success of Super Bowl advertising for a number of years. Their latest research revealed 64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.

It also revealed less than 20% of Super Bowl ads produce significant impact on the brand.

If this is correct, the obvious conclusion for advertising in the Super Bowl, is that entertainment alone is not enough. When measuring the success of their Super Bowl advertising, marketers should focus on mental availability. Byron Sharp popularised the concept of mental availability. It is “the probability that a buyer will notice, recognise and/or think of a brand in buying situations.”

I won’t go into it any further here, but check out Byron Sharp’s book How Brands Grow for more insights.

I’m also confident that again this year there will be the usual over-hyping of how many people watched the game on mobile devices. It will be more people than 2017. And am sure the numbers will be almost statistically insignificant in the scheme of things. Television has no reason to be concerned.

Besides, there are dangers to watching a small screen when going to the loo at half-time, after sucking back all those Budweisers…

Malcolm Auld is founder of The Content Brewery. The original version of this article first appeared on his blog.


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