Big brands are in the middle of an advertising spending spree that will run through a big chunk of the $70 billion spent each year on TV advertising in the US.
Starting with the Grammy Awards and continuing with the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and the Oscars, the start of 2014 has been very busy—and very expensive—for brands looking for prime-time television exposure.
But in the marketing departments of companies across the nation, brands are now spending months strategizing the social component of television ads. Companies are seeking ways to harness the social buzz around must-see television by tying together television ads and social strategy.
The brands that do it right are regaining some of the audience they have lost during the rise of DVRs, streaming video, and the proliferation of choices through cable television. In 1979, you could reach 91% of the live, primetime viewing audience through ads on the three big networks—NBC, ABC, and CBS.
Today, that audience is scattered across multiple media and many channels. Brands have to be more strategic to win back that audience.
The Power of the Second Screen
Recent statistics show that social media and second-screen experiences are a powerful way to supercharge a television advertisement.
A 2013 Ericsson study (PDF) demonstrates the need for brands to spread advertising campaigns across the mobile and online platforms of a multitasking audience. Most TV viewers today juggle multiple screens while watching television.
According to research commissioned by Twitter, television viewers who are engaged on Twitter change the channel at less than half the rate of TV-only viewers, and they can recall an advertisement 13% better than their counterparts. Twitter users also had a more favorable perception of an advertised brand and ranked nearly twice as high on their "purchase intent."
The message from that research is clear: Social media enhances television advertising. And brands that effectively tie the two together see the highest benefit. The same research showed that advertisements with a hashtag had 42% more tweets about them than ads without a hashtag.
Budgeting for the All-Encompassing Advertising Strategy
Brands are now spending their money in clusters, buying television ads, developing a social marketing strategy in concert with television, and using social interaction to bolster email marketing and social advertising.
The all-encompassing advertising strategy is especially embraced by sports sponsorships, as they're often focused on TV ads but tie back into social and mobile media. A recent article by McKinsey & Company showed that the best sports sponsorships programs outperform the worst by 10 times. Much of this difference is pinned on how well brands follow up a sponsorship with "activation." Research from IEG and McKinsey show that, for every dollar spent on a sponsorship, between $.50 and $1.60 should be spent on activation.
Brands are still doling out tens of billions of dollars on television advertisements and sponsorships. Research clearly shows that a significant investment in a social marketing component to accompany and enhance this advertisement can have a huge effect on whether those billions of dollars is money well spent.
And even more brands are looking at that amount of money and asking what they can get for that same price tag in a more social-media-focused campaign. Esurance made waves at the Super Bowl for delaying its ad until after the game, saving $1.5 million, and then giving it away through a social media contest. That campaign unleashed a torrent of social media activity—5.4 million uses of the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag, more than 200,000 entries in the first hour, 2.6 billion social impressions, and 261,000 new Twitter followers to the Esurance page.
That shows the exponential increase in marketing power that occurs when television advertising, social media, and creativity are combined in a well-executed campaign. Unifying these, with the goal of converting TV viewers to social ambassadors, allows big brands to maximize their return on this $70 billion spend.