"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Fritz Brumder, CEO at Brandlive.
In 1981, Schlitz Beer conducted the first live taste tests during Super Bowl XV. Thirty-eight years later, this old-fashioned approach to television marketing is making a comeback with Snickers’ live Super Bowl ad, which will be preceded by a 36-hour live stream that began Thursday.
At a time when it’s becoming harder and harder to attract and keep audience eyeballs, brands have limited avenues to maintain viewer attention, even during the biggest television event of the year.
While splashy, Snickers isn’t just using live content to boost its buzz around the Super Bowl. This campaign will also yield tons of insightful data and give the brand the chance to experiment with creative before debuting its live ad during the game.
As networks have already been doing, I believe Snickers is using this campaign as a testing ground for future decision-making.
Quantifying What Resonates Through Real-Time Testing
Going live creates a real-time feedback loop. While the audience likely sees the Snickers live broadcast as a preview, the brand can get a real sense of what resonates.
The brand can use the 36 hours of streaming content to gauge reactions to certain aspects – celebrities, animals, storylines, creative direction – and then tailor the actual live ad script to reflect those reactions. What gags, lines, camera angles and props elicited emotional reactions? That can be measured by the rate of response, type of response and so forth.
When you’re making that big of a bet live, in front of 100 million-plus people, it’s smart to hedge. The live broadcasts provide real-time data and the learnings can lead to intelligence that informs programming for the big game and beyond.
Here, Snickers is playing a modern media network, despite being a brand. That sort of shift in thinking could resonate further around the industry as other brands use live content to further test creative before taking it to market.
For this ad in particular, success will be measured not just by the audience reaction, but by how easy or difficult it is to implement audience feedback successfully on such a short timeline. In the immediate aftermath, only Snickers will really know how well it accomplished this.
Betting On Suspense
It’s the mystery of live – the off-chance that something could go off-script – that makes it titillating to audiences. Even if the premise does leak, live can always go askew so the element of surprise remains. And like any live content, the ability to be surprised or taken aback by the unexpected provides value that no other ad during this Super Bowl – or any other event – can match.
You can’t scoop the unexpected surprises that may emerge from live content, which is of utmost importance to brands in 2017. There is no leak potential. No chance for the brand’s message to end up in anyone else’s hands before its own. The first time media, consumers and the competition see a brand’s spot is the same time it does.
Still, despite all of those safeguards, live is still a bold move during the Super Bowl. At $5 million a pop, these ads aren’t cheap. But by going live, Snickers is able to do something no other brand can during the game: hold audience attention. That audience also includes every other advertiser in the world.
Will It Work?
It’s critical that Snickers uses the pre-game stream to the best of its abilities. This ad will become the model by which all others are judged as live becomes a larger part of brands’ future Super Bowl strategies. But perhaps the bigger legacy will revolve around the data a live experiment provides for brands.
Making people want to watch and talk about Super Bowl ads has always been the NFL’s goal. The same is true for advertisers. GoDaddy, Budweiser, Reebok, Volkswagen and other brands have impressed themselves upon audiences with a unique take on the Super Bowl ad concept. None of them truly reinvented the wheel. They just thought differently about how to reach audiences.
That’s what Snickers is doing here. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. But Snickers is still creating the road map for how advertisers will try harder during the Super Bowl moving forward. Whether it’s by way of live ads, more creative teasers or using pre-Super Bowl data more effectively, Snickers is certainly revealing a new way forward for advertisers’ biggest stage.