6 Things Your Ad Business Can Learn From the Super Bowl

Mary Mackey
Mary Mackey
6 Things Your Ad Business Can Learn From the Super Bowl

This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals and the LA Rams face off at Super Bowl LVI. With millions of viewers tuning in, the stakes are high for everyone involved: the players, the coaches, and the advertisers paying up to $6.5M for a 30-second commercial.

football stadium

As you look to grow your ad business, we think there’s much to learn from this weekend’s event, from the halftime show to the commercials to the teams involved. Below we outline six of those takeaways.

Understand and monetize your audience.

Most Super Bowl ads fall under a handful of categories. Car, beverage, entertainment, and food ads are reliable staples because they appeal to the average Super Bowl viewer. NBC can charge a whopping $216,667 per second because advertisers see value reaching this audience in bulk.

While your ad rates will certainly be less, your advertisers will still care about reaching the right people with the right messaging. So, make sure you know who your users are. Profile them. Survey them. Then use this data to pitch advertisers and to justify higher ad costs.

Know your weaknesses.

In 2016, Coldplay performed in the halftime show. It was a good, neutral choice, but Chris Martin alone wasn’t going to bring down the house. Enter Beyonce and Bruno Mars. What started as a forgettable performance transformed into the third highest-watched show in US history, with 115.5 million views.

Tackling your weaknesses can be uncomfortable, but in a high stakes situation (like the halftime show or launching an ad business), it’s important to ask the tough questions. Do these ads actually provide value to advertisers? Am I charging too much, or too little? Without this introspection, you could launch an ad platform that is fine, but never takes off.

Take risks.

The Rams lost in the Super Bowl three years ago and didn’t get past the divisional round the next two years. Not content with this approach, they took a major risk and traded multiple first-round picks for Matthew Stafford and Von Miller. While it’s dangerous to give up draft picks, they are in the Super Bowl in no small part because of those two.

When you’re designing an ad program, you don’t have draft picks, but you do have opportunity cost. Every minute an engineer is writing ad code is a minute she isn’t working on your core product. But if you invest no resources, you’ll never launch the ad product at all.

To create a thriving ad empire, you must have faith and invest accordingly. Indeed, Instacart raised $265 million in 2021 to build out their ad product, which is now on pace to drive $1 billion in 2022.

But, don’t over invest.

At the same time, you should crawl, run, walk. Don’t be that advertiser running to NBC with a $13M check thinking a 1-min Super Bowl commercial will save their brand. Instead, what’s the minimum viable product (MVP) you need to get started? In last year’s Super Bowl, Reddit paid for just a five second ad, which then became one of the most searched-for Super Bowl commercials. An ingenious way to deliver results on a scrappy budget.

What’s your MVP? Maybe it’s not a self-serve ad portal with 50 different targeting options. Perhaps all it entails at first is a single ad unit with fixed pricing and manual reporting. That’s enough to start, though. Over time you can add more features, ad units, and reporting options.

You don’t need Tom Brady to win.

This is the first Super Bowl for both teams' quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow). And it’ll be the first Super Bowl for many of the coaches and players. Getting here didn’t require either team to have a quarterback who’s won a Super Bowl already.

It’s the same for you. Being successful doesn’t require spending millions to hire Facebook's former VP of Ads. You can win with a less-experienced team, as long as they are collaborative and have the same vision in mind.

Be patient.

Games aren’t won in a quarter, and dynasties aren’t built in a day. The last time the Bengals were in the Super Bowl was 1989, and between 2019-2020 they went 6-25-1. These abysmal seasons, however, allowed them to select Joe Burrow (1st overall pick) and Ja’Marr Chase (5th overall pick, who then broke multiple rookie records). This young duo propelled them to the championship.

Nobody likes losing to win, but your ad business is likely going to stutter before it grows. Maybe it’s an advertiser who’s angry about reporting options, or you realize your pricing is off, or so on. These hurdles will happen, and it’s important to play the long game and grow from these challenges.

football wall

We hope you enjoy the game. And no matter who you’re rooting for, make your ad business the true winner of this weekend!

Mary Mackey
Mary Mackey

Mary is an experienced tech marketer with a passion for storytelling. As Kevel's Marketing Manager, she oversees marketing projects and communications.