Online Video Changes The Way Super Bowl Advertisers Gauge Their Big Game Buy

nfl-measurementThe Super Bowl used to be the one day when, thanks to the commercials, non-football fans would willingly watch the sport.

Today, you can watch those spots well before the big game even airs, as the number of pre-Super Bowl ads on YouTube grew 200% since 2008, said Google.

And the growing importance of online video to a Super Bowl buy puts even more pressure on the ad industry to figure out a way to measure everything holistically.

“People are pushing for business metrics, not media metrics,” said Google’s VP of agency sales Tara Levy during a Tuesday event at YouTube’s offices, heralding the tenth anniversary of its AdBlitz program. By necessity, the entire industry needs to create that common measurement currency.

But that’s easier said than done. Despite numerous digital KPIs, there really aren’t any for linear TV – just a Nielsen number around where the ad ran. And even the digital metrics that brands use to evaluate success have changed.

Brands don’t just count views, said Victoria Vaynberg, senior director of digital, US, at Anheuser-Busch InBev, a frequent Super Bowl advertiser. The brewing company’s Bud Light is the official beer of the NFL and AB InBev will showcase for the first time its Busch brand during the upcoming Super Bowl.

“We’re all buying our views,” she explained. “So now we’re more homed in on the earned rate we want.”

AB InBev starts studying that earned rate whenever the campaign starts – whether that’s a teaser of the Super Bowl spot, or a pre-release of the entire ad on YouTube. The earned rate lets her assess what consumers think of the creative, and lets her optimize the ad. She can for instance put more spend behind the 30-second spot if it performs better than the 60.

Other metrics include number of mentions, and the sentiment behind those mentions, which let her figure out what people think of the brand and whether or not the message resonates.

“This can tell us whether [the spot] might drive key message metrics for us, drive consideration, drive purchase intent,” Vaynberg said. “That’s the immediate evaluation we look at that week.”

But the goal is really to tie all of that information into the full year’s performance. Only in evaluating the Super Bowl buy within an extended time period can AB InBev decide what its Super Bowl week activity is actually worth.

“We get into our offline sales metrics where we look back and evaluate what that spot did for the brand, and what it did for sales – essentially, how much did it drive the following year?” Vaynberg said.

Jason DeLand, founding partner of the agency Anomaly added: “With an investment that size, you better be driving some sort of sales metric.”

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