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A study released Friday by WPP research arm Kantar Video underscores just how impactful the internet can be for Super Bowl ads. It only goes to show that as creative as some marketers are getting, there’s still so much potential to be mined online.
Kantar found that the 10 most popular ads online generated an additional $1 million in impressions–more than half of which accrued to the list’s top entry, Volkswagen’s “The Force,” which has drawn a stunning total of over 26 million streams.
Of course, Super Bowl exposure also cuts both ways: Surely GroupOn could have emerged with fewer scratches from its own current debacle had its spots not been endlessly replayed and dissected online all of this week. No wonder the company had to take the extraordinary step of shelving the ads (though enterprising minds should have no problem digging them up online even if they’ve been yanked from YouTube).
Keep in mind that Volkswagen was among the marketers that not only scored extra points after the Super Bowl, but started generating interest days before kickoff. While extending the impact of a Super Bowl TV ad online is nothing new, the 2011 event underscored the notion that Madison Avenue may still be only scratching the surface in terms of unlocking the total value of these spots across platforms.
No wonder NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA), which has rights to Super Bowl 2012, has already floated the possibility that commercials will cost upwards of $3 million per 30-second ads. To some degree that hike is just an acknowledgement of how valuable the big game’s TV window alone is from a scarcity perspective; as it becomes harder and harder for most TV programs to amass truly mass audiences, those that can do it dependably like the Super Bowl will only become that much more valuable.
But you’ve got to wonder whether NBC is already thinking about how to hold onto the spillover value of Super Bowl ads when they continue to exert marketing muscle online. There’s got to be a way where NBC ad sales can make this more of a cross-platform opportunity, perhaps putting more weight behind Hulu, in which it has a stake, or even NBC.com, as a place to drive all those TV eyeballs to an online location for repeat viewing or extensions of the marketing experience.
As it stands, that additional audience simply scatters all over the internet to watch Super Bowl ads, from YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) to Facebook. But 2012 presents an opportunity for NBC to justify its $3 million-plus price tag with a sales opportunity that really gives these ads their due.