Super Bowl 50: Are The Marketing Dollars Worth It? Gary Parkinson February 4th, 2016 The Sport Or The Commercials?Super Bowl weekend is only days away and sports fans are preparing to celebrate the 50th edition of the biggest game in American football. This year’s championship match is even more exciting as the game will pit “old school” against “new school” players in a clash for Super Bowl glory. Veteran quarterback Peyton Manning leads his Denver Broncos against MVP nominee Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California - home of the San Francisco 49ers.With members of the media speculating that Super Bowl 50 will be the last outing for the 39-year-old Manning, and the veteran remaining coy about his future after Super Bowl Sunday (“I haven’t made up my mind”), fans can certainly expect the Broncos to lay it all on the field with one final hurrah for their Hall of Fame bound leader. Meanwhile, the Panthers are hoping that their remarkable season ends on a glorious high by capturing the club’s first ever Super Bowl championship. Additionally, a Super Bowl win will almost certainly vault QB Newton into the frontrunner position for 2015-16 NFL MVP.Companies that purchased Super Bowl ads are also counting on valiant efforts from both championship contenders, but for different reasons. The Super Bowl commercials have become as important to the weekend’s events as the sport itself. With time slots running for up to $5 million, it’s a hefty sum to pay for a 30 second spot. If interest in the game dwindles early, the number of eyes on the ads will be significantly diminished.This begs the question... Are Super Bowl Ads Worth The Price?This question has been debated time and again. Sports marketers must decide whether to continue the tradition and spend money on advertising, or adapt to modern tactics like content marketing and building communities of like-minded sports fans.Some organizations invest large portions of their marketing budget on Super Bowl ads, according to Noble People’s Chief Marketing Strategist Todd Alchin. However, the actual cost of those ads is far more expensive than $5 million. If you factor in the production, operations, and promotion of any Super Bowl campaign, the actual cost of investing in a Super Bowl ad is approximately $30 million.Spending that amount of money on a 30 second spot - essentially $1 million per 1 second - is a risky manoeuver. If fans lose interest in the game due to one team running away with the score (as was the case in Denver’s last Super Bowl appearance at Super Bowl XLVIII in a crushing 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks), don’t expect your ad to be seen by the audience you initially projected.Alchin believes this is the challenge that sports marketers must overcome as traditional advertising becomes less effective in today’s marketing landscape.“If you said to a marketing director or CEO, 'We're going to talk to your customers this year for exactly half a minute. Then we're going to do nothing until maybe next year,' you're betting a lot that everything fires perfectly in that 30 seconds.”Know Your Audience!Who is most likely to tune into Super Bowl Sunday? Check them off on your list - diehard football fans, generic sports fans interested in the championship game, fans of the halftime show interested in the annual live performer (Coldplay is this year’s headliner), and Super Bowl party-goers intending to binge on snacks while spending time with friends or family. Given the audience profiles, ask yourself if these personas are really your target market or if you are marketing to prospects who have little to no potential of becoming loyal customers.Steve Olenski, a contributor with Forbes Magazine, wrote an editorial about the cost/benefit analysis of Super Bowl advertising by refuting a separate piece of content written by Rob Siltanen, Founder of Siltanten & Partners advertising agency that developed two Super Bowl spots. Olenski used one of Siltanten’s pro-advertising statements to counter that effective marketing requires an analytical understanding of your brand and your target audience.“The Super Bowl is not for everybody or every brand. If you have a serious message you need to convey, you might think twice about delivering it in front of an audience that is wired to party.”Rather than spend millions of dollars on a 30 second spot that may or may not deliver the anticipated ROI, why not invest time and resources in a content marketing strategy to build a community of people who are interested in your products or services? If you’re a sports marketer, there are plenty of topics you can use to engage with Super Bowl fans ahead of the weekend’s festivities.Use Player Accomplishments as Topical ContentThe uncertainty of Peyton Manning’s future offers opportunities to reflect on his past and his numerous accomplishments in the NFL. Statistical comparisons between Manning and former Broncos QB (now executive) John Elway, who retired from the game as a back-to-back Super Bowl champion, can be used to create compelling pieces of content highlighting the generational differences in style and technique between the two superstars.Rant Versus: Peyton Manning's 2013 Broncos vs John Elway's 1998 Broncosby RantSportsTV via YouTube On the flip side of the field, the Carolina saga has been one of the most unexpected yet jubilant stories of the 2015-16 NFL season. Fans across North America jumped onto the Cam Newton bandwagon as the 26 year old played the best season of his career to date, leading his teammates to a franchise best 15-1 record in the regular season and two impressive playoff victories over the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals on the road to Super Bowl 50. Think about how revered Cam Newton has become in the sports community. Any content you create that dissects or analyzes Newton’s rising star in the game will almost certainly attract like-minded fans prior to and following Super Bowl Sunday. If you get their interest with content that is up their alley, you’ve completed step one of attracting and converting new customers.Where would the Panthers be without Cam Newton? | Dave Dameshek Football Program | NFLby NFL via YouTube Creative Content Lasts Far Longer Than Native AdvertisingThe bottom line is this - you can spend millions of dollars on a 30 second TV spot or you can use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to create great content that will keep your audience interested and aware of your brand for a greater period of time. Remember that the consumer lifecycle begins with awareness but moving that prospect down the funnel towards a purchase requires as many as 12 interactions with the brand. Spending your entire budget on a 30 second spot is less likely to translate into lower funnel conversions than a strategy focused on developing great content that brings people back to your online presence again and again.Are Super Bowl advertisements really worth the effort? You be the judge.