The Big Game has come and gone and while many of us may not have enjoyed the result, at least we will always have the video of Tom Brady stumbling off a boat, steadied by his longtime tight end, Rob Gronkowski. As the game begins to fade from memory, we have now had a few weeks to digest one of the weekend’s other interesting elements: the ads. We have looked more closely at traditional big budget television spots as an advertising channel and beg the question… Are large advertising events like Super Bowl ads starting to have diminishing returns?

You may have noticed this year that several stalwarts bowed out. Gone were the Budweiser Clydesdales, the adorable Coca Cola bears. There was no controversial GoDaddy ad directing us to their website for the *uncensored* version. Even a fan favorite obscure brand ‘Avocados From Mexico’ took the year off.

There are myriad reasons this could be the case. Super Bowl ads are after all quite expensive and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of companies took a hit. Other brands felt it inappropriate to spend millions on a 30-second ad when so many individuals are hurting, opting for charitable causes instead. But there is another, more subtle reason a lot of companies are starting to shy away from the buzzy, gimmicky ads of our childhood…they just aren’t as effective anymore.

Targeted advertising vs a wide net

The creative message behind any Super Bowl ad has to be as wide as possible. It needs to appeal to a 19-year-old college student and a 48-year-old mother of two. It’s hard to put forth a message that will resonate with both. So, we end up with a Jeep Bruce Springsteen ad that is magically supposed to make the left and right-leaning Americans join hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ And as is so often the case, when you try to please everybody, you please nobody. Jeep’s ‘Middle’ (the name of the ad) was one of the lowest-rated during Super Bowl Sunday. In a super-sensitive political climate, a down-the-middle general message does not resonate.

Roughly 100 million folks watched the game, so brands were essentially delivering a scattershot message to appease 100 million sets of eyeballs. And if we look at the same tenet above, when you ‘target’ 100 million people, you are targeting no one. In fact, in their recap of the Ads, Ad Week called this type of mass advertising the ‘most indirect form of marketing possible.’

What brands want is hyper-targeted messaging going directly to their customers. They want to be intentional with their communication. Maybe this is why over 75% of top marketers for American brands recently stated that SMS was the most effective digital channel that they use or had used. In comparison with these big budget tv spots, SMS can be highly targeted, direct and personal. Furthermore, they enable two way communications which create meaningful engagements, whereas a tv ad is just talking to you. Boasting a 98% open and read rate, your SMS probably has a higher view rate than a Super Bowl ad because half of the viewers are burying their face in a bowl of chili.

What Samuel L Jackson’s dinosaur deaths teach us about marketing

Obviously, we are comparing apples and oranges here, but if we are talking straight engagement, you can make the case that SMS is more effective than a traditional television ad. If we look at most of the Big Game’s commercials, they all had a pretty similar call to action; “Visit our website to learn more.” Sure you can see an extended version of the ad for more Will Ferrell antics, but the goal of the campaign is to drive clicks to their site. But riddle me this…what would be an easier way to drive traffic to your site than sending a link directly to someone’s smart device? Save your 10 million dollar budget and high priced Madison Avenue firm and go directly to your consumer.

The last statement is an oversimplification. Multiple channels should be used for effective ad campaigns. But when we see statistics like “77% of marketers who use SMS to send promotions or offers reported revenue growth in the last fiscal year” it’s worth asking if SMS is a better advertising avenue than showing an ad that has Samuel L Jackson eaten by a dinosaur. (Ed. Note: This is the 3rd death by dinosaur for Sam if we’re including super sharks.) While we always appreciate a Deep Blue Sea reference, changes are no one can remember the company behind the commercial.

For more insights download our 2021 benchmark report on the state of customer engagement in B2C marketing. We dive into the digital channels that are and are not working in the current age of digital transformation. In the meantime, think about how important it is to go directly to your users with a targeted message, and when you’re ready the experts at Mitto will help you unlock the full power of SMS marketing.