March Madness Advertisers Get a Digital Ad Assist from the Super Bowl

As we fill NCAA brackets and office productivity grinds to a screeching halt for two weeks, marketers are starting to look at how to capitalize on the feeding frenzy that is March Madness.

As brands put the finishing touches on their media plans, the YouTube advertising experts at our TriVu Media platform thought it only fitting to take a look at the Super Bowl for inspiration and learning. Over the past several months, our team has poured over mounds of data related to Super Bowl creative treatment and video distribution. Here are five key lessons advertisers can learn when planning their video strategy.

Promote early and often

Six out of the top ten Super Bowl ads were released prior to the game. In fact, viewers watched Super Bowl ads a whopping 86 million times before Sunday’s kickoff. The rationale makes a lot of sense; there are over 50 ads during Super Bowl.  It’s really hard to break out and be the ad winner. According to You Tube, commercials released on its site drove 2.5x more views on average than those released on game day.

Punchline? March Madness may not be as big as the Super Bowl, but it’s still considered a major event for brands and viewership. So don’t wait until the Elite Eight or Final Four to release your great piece of creative. If you have the spot, execute your video distribution strategy now, as consumers start talking about their teams before tip off later this week.

You have a massive opportunity to tell your brand story (so don’t be bound by 30 seconds)

You may have a slam dunk 30-second spot ready for television. But many brands can’t sufficiently tell their stories in 30 or 60 seconds. Some of the best, most popular branded spots running around Super Bowl content on YouTube were long form. Bud Light’s “Up for Whatever” was a minute and a half in length. Coke’s “Kid President” was several minutes long.  And Toyota’s “To Be a Dad” spot was a whopping three minutes, eight seconds. Viewers watched that spot more than two million times. And that was before the big game aired.

Implication: During March when rabid fans will be combing YouTube for NCAA content, don’t miss out. Use this opportunity to tell memorable, compelling stories about your brand. You don’t have to bound by a 30-second spot.

Customize creative or don’t bother showing up

Every year, a few advertisers shoehorn a few pieces of creative into the Super Bowl that are neither special nor contextually relevant. The top ten ads in-game and online were all created specifically for the Super Bowl.

Top Ten AD METER – USA Today Video Buzz – TriVu Social Buzz – Adobe
Budweiser – Lost Dog Budweiser – Lost Dog Always – Like a Girl
Always – Like a Girl Super Cell – Clash of Clans Avocados from Mexico
Fiat- Blue Pill Bud Light – Pac-Man Dove Men Care – Real Men
Microsoft – Tech Helps BMW i3 – Newfangled Idea eSurance – Lohan
Doritos – Middle Seat Mercedes – Fable Super Cell – Clash of Clans
Dodge – 100 Years Snickers – Brady Brunch Square Space – Jeff Bridges Om
Toyota – Dad Nissan – With dad Nissan – With dad
Coke – #Make It Happy Fiat – Blue Pill Toyota – Dad
Nissan – With Dad Coke – #Make It Happy Loctite – Super Glue
McDonalds – Pay with Love Mophie – All Powerful Budweiser – Lost Dog

“Special events require special creative. If your agency can’t pull together unique content for March Madness, they shouldn’t bother showing up,” said Paul Calento, TriVu Media co-founder. “Special events drive engagement.”

Use online to extend your reach

This year, every single Super Bowl advertiser had some level of online presence. Budweiser, Super Cell, Nissan, Bud Light and BMW have all, individually, amassed over 25 million views online.

These smart advertisers know that combining TV with a defined online video distribution strategy has the dual benefit of increasing awareness and engagement. More than 95% of all available March Madness airtime is taken. At $1.5 million per spot for the NCAA championship game. (triple the price of the 2014 NBA championship), the cost of total rating points (TRP) on TV is higher than Jahlil Okafor’s vertical .

The combination of TV and online video can expand reach. Online TRPs are a lot cheaper than March Madness TV commercials. As an added bonus, a brand’s video distribution strategy works harder.

Punchline: Make your NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament TV buy work harder by implementing a video online distribution strategy online.

Target, optimize and learn. Rinse and Repeat.

During the Super Bowl, Lexus created more than 1,000 unique video ads, targeting them to specific, tailored audiences. Last year, TriVu Media managed a large automaker’s Super Bowl YouTube campaign and found that content from specific artists, gaming and sports had better view-through rates than others. Regional Super Bowl advertiser DiGiornio Pizza used brand-safe YouTube ads to target at the URL versus keyword, cookie or channel level. By targeting at the URL level, DiGiornio knew it was putting its brand next to relevant content, instead of—for instance—an ISIS video.

Punchline: According to TriVu’s Paul Calento, “Brands should call a technical on any agency that cannot show you a video distribution plan that ensures videos are targeted – down to the actual URL level.”

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About the Author

Anita Newton

Anita Newton is the VP of corporate marketing at Adknowledge. She led marketing at P&G, Sprint and AMC Theatres, as well startups including Zave Networks (acquired by Google). Anita continues her entrepreneurial work by advising startups like Trellie and Mighty Green Solutions. She is based at Adknowledge's Kansas City headquarters.

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