Super Bowl Advertising Without Super Bowl Spend: Online Marketing For The Big Game

With the NFL Championship game just four days away, we wanted to discuss some ring-worthy marketing strategies to employ close to kickoff. We're going to break down the play-by-play of a few last minute updates for your store, as well as review a couple of strategies the big players are employing this year. While you may not be able to compete at an adspend level with the Budweisers and Fords of the world, you can take some of their strategies and use them at a local level in the future.

1. Hut, hut, hike up your mobile budgets

If you're running promotions that coincide with the big game - league sign ups, sports gear, food prep - be mindful about the enhanced competition Sunday will bring. Over 110 million people will be tuning in this year to watch the Patriots face off against the Eagles, and most will be browsing with their phones. To capitalize on this, focus your ad campaigns to get directly in front of users while they’re watching the game. Increase your PPC campaigns mobile bid adjustments or budgets to account for this shift. Ensure your mobile landing pages are share-worthy and the copy is tight - someone will be likelier to read a great description aloud to the room than they will forward the page while everyone is right there. Focus on capturing that "now" moment with a strong mobile effort.

I wouldn't be surprised to see more smaller companies/new startups pivot some of their seed funding into new TV spots to an adrenaline boost of viewers.

2. Super Bowl Ads are actually the best value advertising out there

Gary V(aynerchuk) has been making this point for a couple of years now and it hasn't changed: Super Bowl ads are dramatically underpriced. The big game is going to draw in at least 110,000,000 people and a 30-second ad is going to go for about $5,500,000. That means for every dollar you spend you're getting in front of 20 people at a cost per impression of $.05. The initial cost is the real rub — that’s the hard initial investment, of course — but I wouldn't be surprised to see more smaller companies/new startups pivot some of their seed funding into new TV spots to an adrenaline boost of viewers. While most companies still won't have the funding for something on the level of Super Bowl ads, you can still learn a lot from the processes that the big spenders use to get those tricky conversions...

3. Give viewers the path of least resistance to getting your content

A relatively recent trend by the mega brands is to direct their ad traffic not to their website but third parties, like YouTube and Facebook. Rather than sending their traffic to a dedicated branded landing page, they'll send that traffic to a YouTube to rewatch their TV spot. Why is this? If you're capitalizing on sheer amount of people watching there are a ton of benefits. YouTube has the brand trust and authority that will encourages users to engage quickly. For scalability, it's already mobile optimized and can handle the amount of people coming through their online door. And maybe most importantly, users searching for video content will be high.

You can do this on a smaller scale as well. If you've created a video content – product openings, local news content, a full-fledged commercial – try sending your traffic directly to YouTube, and let your advertising do the rest. The same can be said for Facebook. A/B test sending traffic directly to your Facebook page, and its natively hosted video content, to see how your likes/shares increase.

I would flat recommend against adding the phrase "Super Bowl" or anything related to your PPC keyword list to tap into the traffic around the big game.

4. Don't fumble your keyword list

I would flat recommend against adding the phrase "Super Bowl" or anything related to your PPC keyword list to tap into the traffic around the big game. Instead, keep focusing on relevant terms and keywords associated with your brand and product lines. Your daily budget does not want to get caught up in advertising for "super bowl commercials" when thousands of people will be searching for the follow-up best of lists (Google's featured snippet functionality is going to dominate the SERP anyway). While tempting, align your campaign’s keyword lists to your brand rather than reaching beyond your grasp.

5. What's in a headline?

A variation of step 3 - sending users to YouTube or Facebook - this method encourages you to try out unique, #hashtag-worthy headlines to chart your brand presence. Last year, MarketingLand reported that 30% of commercials implemented a visual hashtag to try to eke out some customer engagement. Try employing a similar tactic in your PPC headline. Using a headline hashtag won't have the data tracking capabilities it has on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s inherit clickability may draw higher response rates. Work in a dedicated hashtag for local campaigns and along your social media to provide a coherent, consistent message and test how it goes.

Also, don't forget you cannot use the phrase "Super Bowl" in your promotional text, anywhere, at all. There are many examples of the NFL cracking down on the unapproved use of their trademark. Stick to widely accepted cognates like "big game" and "championship" while creating new content.

So with the big game right around the corner, spend some time analyzing your AdWords account for Sunday-specific optimizations. A handful of micro-adjustments focusing on mobile devices, branded content and relevant keywords could mean the difference between a field goal and a touchdown.

Have any questions about Super Bowl adspend? Let us know in the comments!