By Aaron Shapiro, Chairman and Founder, Product
As we come out of yet another Super Bowl, the main takeaway is that the ad content – and formats – looked largely as they have for the past several years, if not decades. Fortunately, we now stand at an inflection point in the marketing industry. By the time the big game rolls around in 2024, that content will all be different.
This year’s media blitz relied on the traditional, yet, antiquated model that attempts to reach some 200 million consumers with a single (and relatively static) 30-second spot.
This mode has been around for decades. Ads that ran in the 1970s are shockingly similar to the ones we have today. Put aside the clothing and many wouldn’t look so out of place on Hulu. They’re pithy 30-second stories selling hopes and dreams made possible by the product du jour.
But the strategy around showing the same 30-second ads to virtually everyone is as outdated as Joe Namath’s fur coats.
Here are three innovations that could reshape next year’s Super Bowl ads (and the future of ad content as we know it):
1. Artificial intelligence could fine tune big game messaging
AI has already proven incredibly valuable when it comes to targeting audiences. Note how good Facebook, TikTok, Google and even discovery platforms like Taboola have gotten at finding the right audience for any given message. Now that same technology is being used to build the actual marketing message.
Google’s Responsive Display and Search Ads, for example, automatically generate and test derivatives of search or display ads from a universe of provided content, allowing marketers to automate the message that resonates most strongly with different queries and segments.
Not to mention the recent explosion of ChatGPT. Copy automation for email, ads and landing pages is already producing fairly impressive copy that feels surprisingly human. AI can also be used to mix and match audio, video and copy to mass-produce social ads.
Thanks to these developments, it’s finally possible to produce high volume content to test which messages really work for which audiences, rather than betting big on one tentpole moment like the Super Bowl and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
2. We could see more homegrown content on the big screen
Part of what makes AI content creation possible today is the fact that the definition of what constitutes an acceptable ad, from a production-value standpoint, has never been more accessible. Indeed, content that is raw, homegrown and authentic often resonates more with consumers.
That’s because social hasn’t only turned us all into content creators, it’s also trained us to love the authenticity and spontaneity that social content uniquely affords.
The savviest advertisers, seeing the appeal of homegrown fare, have followed suit. And with homegrown content’s low production costs comes an ability to produce substantially more content for the same amount of money. Talent isn’t even necessary; just have the people behind the products start talking or recruit existing customers to sing their praises.
Going forward, marketers can outsource the creative process to the niche the brand is targeting. For every niche, a vibrant world of influencers (or aspiring influencers) exists, who would happily produce content that perfectly markets the product. No need to figure out what messages work. Just build a community and engage. They’ll produce. All you have to do is amplify.
3. Progressive creation + a multi-channel approach could reach niche audiences
The relatively low bar for what constitutes ad content means it’s easy to test large numbers of messages to many audience niches, and then progressively invest in higher production value content for what really works. In short, marketers can use platforms’ targeting algorithms to figure out what messages are effective and then spend the big bucks to produce ads that have the biggest impact.
In this regard, the savviest political campaigns have led the way with a model that brands can emulate to achieve hyper-targeted content. Campaigns start with a niche audience, the political issues they’re focused on and the messages that could work for the segment. Simple ads can then be produced and run on Facebook to see what works. The ones that win can be upgraded to a short video spot, relying on just a simple iPhone clip or some stock video. If that works, the possibility of a professional shoot opens up.
Then, the ad can be fully exposed to the niche, and derivatives can be tested to see if they’ll work with other targeted audiences. In doing so, the ads can start to run on broader platforms like [gasp!] TV.
While other areas of advertising like media buys have been hyper-targeted for decades, content creation has noticeably lagged behind – with the upcoming big game serving as an annual reminder of the need to completely rethink the 30-second formula.
Advertising content finally has an opportunity to catch up with the advent of new AI capabilities and key cultural shifts in how people perceive and interact with ads across social media.
No longer do brands have to sacrifice quality and effectiveness in exchange for targeting. In 2023, content can be automated, tested and iterated with the click of a button, with the opportunity to double down on and scale what works best.
As you remember Super Bowl LVII, take a mental snapshot, because Super LVIII could look completely different.