5 Key Advertising Trends Playing Out On – and Off – the Field Around 2023’s Big Game

By Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean

While Rihanna might be stealing the show for many at this year’s Super Bowl, a lot of attention will be paid to – and a lot of money will be paid for – the ads before, during and after the big game.

While the overarching format of the commercials themselves will not change too drastically from previous years – 15, 30, 45, and 60 seconds of storytelling via sight, sound and motion – the way they will be created, distributed and measured will be a sign of things to come for marketing in 2023.

Here are 5 key advertising trends to keep an eye on amidst the glamor and spectacle of the Super Bowl, along with some tips for brands looking to optimize their presence during one of the world’s most high-profile events.

Paying for what you get

As Gartner’s Andrew Frank notes, Super Bowl ad spend has traditionally been resistant to economic conditions. And that won’t change this year, with broadcasters raising prices for 30-second spots. The recent trend of ‘softer advertising’ will likely not come into play during this year’s Super Bowl, with brands lining up to pay up to $7million for those 30-second spots. Advertisers know that they will reach massive, engaged audiences at these marquee events, with the level of exposure expected to justify the steep investment. There’s simply no other place to reach 100+ million concurrent viewers who are turned in not just for the content but for the ads.

Measuring success holistically

People will be watching the game – and the ads – across a number of screens before, during and after the event. They’ll also be active on social media for discussion and reaction around what happens on and off the field. For brands to account for the full value of investment, they need to capture viewer metrics across traditional live, replay and syndicated video outlets, as well as various social platforms. Advanced measurement for converged TV and video is a topic we went deep on as part of the CIMM Summit at the Mediaocean Retreat during CES 2023. The consensus is that a combination of panel and glass-level data are needed to complete the full picture.

Creating surround sound experiences

Leading on from the point about social, advertisers need to take advantage of the fact that most TV viewers have a phone in their hands. Brands can sync ads across screens to produce the “surround sound experience” and use clever calls-to-action to drive engagement from the big screen to the smaller one. This will be particularly pertinent for brands targeting younger audiences who are more likely to see the social media discourse as the primary way to experience live events. A great example of this execution is what P&G did with Von Miller for Old Spice a few years’ back ­– running bespoke ads on Twitter every time a big play was made in the game. 

Carefully crafting CTAs

Last year, Coinbase saw their app crash under the influx of viewers using the QR code embedded in their spot. Advertisers can learn an important lesson from this: it’s no good having a killer ad if you don’t have the infrastructure to support the increase in traffic. Brands this year will need to be prepped, leveraging advanced technologies to enable rapid scalability. Think also about the user journey – it’s vital to remove any friction wherever possible, so that the target audience can move from interested to converted as seamlessly as possible.

Leaving AI on the bench for now

ChatGPT is definitely having its moment in the sun right now and there are clear implications for assisting marketers in developing creative. However, as everyone debates the role of Generative AI tools, the Super Bowl is too big a stage to risk a brand fumble. For one thing, AI-based text generators are trained on historical datasets and known to occasionally produce factual inaccuracies that simply sound right to humans, rather than actually making sense. AI image tools also struggle to create certain images, such as human faces and hands – especially when accounting for diversity. When it comes to striking the right tone in the big game – taking into account current social contexts and nuances – the human touch remains essential to safeguarding the brand messaging on a platform of this size. Meanwhile, feel free to let the bots take over the blog for a bit.

And the winner is…

Of course, the Super Bowl may well throw up some surprises, as it has done on several occasions in the past, whether that’s a surprise victory on the field or an entertainment spectacle. In the last couple of years, brands have come to almost expect the unexpected at the big game and this year will likely be no different.

Regardless of what happens on the field, brands that are able to deliver memorable marketing will win out. Meeting consumers in the moment with personalised advertising will allow brands to take advantage of this big-ticket event and score big.