Oscars Advertising Trends: How Did 2017 Stack Up?

By Beth Hurrle  | 

When it comes to big TV moments, the Super Bowl tends to get most of the attention from advertisers. But there’s a case to be made that the Academy Awards may be just as important, both in terms of the budgets and the creativity of the commercials. How did this year’s Oscars ad buys compare with years past? And what ad buying strategies received the most attention from advertisers? Here are three takeaways from the year’s biggest night of movie magic.

Ratings were down, but advertisers still made big bets
Advertisers made big commitments for this year’s broadcast. Not surprisingly, the cost for a single ad placement in Hollywood’s biggest night was larger than ever, reaching as high as $2 million per 30-second spot. While that might not reach that average of $5 million advertisers shelled out for the Super Bowl, it still high enough to ensure the Academy Awards earns more total ad revenue than other similar award shows like the Grammy Awards or Golden Globes. The price tag is perhaps all the more impressive given that ratings were down this year, at their lowest level since 2008.

Live TV events continue to be in high demand
One reason for the continued demand in advertising inventory during the Oscars is the importance of live TV events. With fewer and fewer events attracting big audiences, networks like ABC are doing more to make sure they can cash in on the significant viewership and attention that live events continue to draw. According to some ad industry observers, the politically-charged nature of today’s environment may even be helping bring more young viewers back to live TV broadcasts. Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe speech is one example. “There is a replacement of the audience going on, and this new base of viewers is paying attention to these issues,” Ashwin Navin, chief executive of Samba TV, a data and analytics firm, told the LA Times. “People really care about what Meryl Streep says.”

More advertisers are “taking a stand” in their creative
Wherever you might lie on the political spectrum, more brands seem to be using high-profile ad buys, like this year’s Oscars for example, to make political statements. Cadillac earned plenty of industry attention for its embrace of Americans’ “common values,” and other Oscars advertisers like Hyatt and the New York Times both took a more political tone as well. It seems like more brands are willing to plunge head-first into the national conversation than they may have been in the past.

No matter who wins Best Picture at next year’s Oscars, the power of this attention-grabbing live event is simply too much for most advertisers to ignore. It may not reach the same ad spending levels we typically associate with the Super Bowl, but all signs suggest the Oscars broadcast will continue to rate highly for both advertisers and consumers.

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