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Q&A with eMarketer’s Paul Verna

Paul Verna is Principal Analyst, Video at eMarketer. He shares his thoughts on the high cost of Super Bowl ads, how the hype of game day transfers over to video and what spot ranks among his all time favorites.

Does the hype around Super Bowl advertising transfer over to video advertising?
Yes, increasingly so. It’s more and more common for advertisers to tease, preview, and augment their TV campaigns on digital and social video channels. Also, in cases where ads have an after-life following the event—whether because of viral interest, water-cooler moments or anything else that drives attention back to the campaign—all of that activity happens on video platforms.

What’s your favorite example of a brand maximizing cross-screen viewer engagement during the Super Bowl?
I was blown away by the nimbleness and ingenuity of the brands that capitalized on the power outage during Super Bowl XLVII with instant social media campaigns. There were several, but the one that stands out is Oreo, which sent out a tweet with the clever tag line “you can still dunk in the dark.” That was some quick thinking!

What do you think about the trend of brands “leaking” their Super Bowl ads online ahead of game day?
This has become an essential tactic for many brands, and why not? A strategic leak can stoke interest in a campaign, driving people to tune in in real time, and also to spend time before or after the Super Bowl engaging with the ad.

Do you have a ritual/tradition for watching the Super Bowl?
None, other than rooting against the Patriots, which makes me a very unpopular guy among my friends and family in New England, where we live!

What’s one of your favorite Super Bowl commercials of all time and why?
P&G’s “Like a Girl” spot in Super Bowl XLIX was the most inspiring ad I’ve seen during the telecast. A longer version already been a viral success, but the company’s decision to create a 60-second cut for the Super Bowl gave the campaign a new jolt. Not only was it ground-breaking in being the first time a feminine hygiene brand had advertised in the Super Bowl, but it prefigured the long-overdue reckoning with gender issues that our society has been going through.

Anything we should have asked that you’d like to add?
The price of a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl has increased by 87% in a decade and now stands at over $5 million, according to Kantar Media. It’s worth pondering why that price has risen so dramatically during a time when TV advertising as a whole has been relatively flat. Obviously, brands that participate in the Super Bowl still consider it a good value, but at some point I’d be interested in a deeper discussion of the return-on-investment of these very expensive media buys.