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Super Bowl advertising at $4.5m a go – is it really worth it?

Super Bowl XLIX is upon us and, as is tradition, the ads are hyped and as expensive as ever. But is it worth it?

Every winter, football fans, entertainment buffs and seven layer dip connoisseurs alike juggle plans to watch the Super Bowl, one of the world’s largest sporting events.

And regardless of whether they have followed “deflate-gate” or care which team takes home the Vince Lombardi trophy, everyone watching will render an opinion as to which of the ads exhibit the best of what brands have to offer TV advertising.

Super Bowl ads have become an experience equal to that of watching the game, and this experience is what brands are hoping to enhance. Today’s brands create opportunities for always-on fans to bond with one another and connect emotionally to the brand on a global scale.

And today, brands will extend the experience of the commercial well beyond the TV spot, continuing engagement both before and well after the game is done. For example, Pepsi has launched a multi-month campaign that will culminate at halftime. And GoDaddy’s decision to pull the ad it developed to spoof Budweiser’s campaign has received widespread media coverage and amused consumers across the globe.

Moreover, this year, fans will be able to see the Super Bowl ads anywhere they want, only moments after they are aired. NBC will be posting the ads on a Tumblr page and every brand will be on YouTube. Facebook, too, in order to showcase the ads‬. Each year Super Bowl advertisers place more and more significance on social media –providing more exposure for brands with commercials that air during the Big Game. This year is no different.

Even with astronomical ad prices ($4.5m for a 30-second spot) turning some regular advertisers off, the 2015 Super Bowl commercials will still be some of the most socially shared content from a sporting event, ever. More so than even the game itself.

After the game, search the related hashtags and keywords (i.e., #SuperBowlAds on Twitter and ‘Super Bowl ads’ on Google) to see the pages and pages of search results that will appear either covering or showing the newly aired ads. Never mind who wins the game, or by how much. The game itself will be left quickly in the rearview mirror compared to the experience those ads will provide viewers.

Super Bowl ads have become so much more with audiences, no matter where the consumers are or what device they are using, they will be choosing to watch the commercials. Because they hold the elite title of “Super Bowl Ads,” these ads are different than all the others that run on television on any other given Sunday. To me, this is the most influential marketing element—when the consumer chooses to interact with the brand because of the experience offered. Successful ads give people what they want, across all platforms, as fans create their own story about and around them.

After the Super Bowl, executives aren’t the only ones discussing the commercials, it is the entire world—and not just because the ads are necessarily the best or better than others during any other marquee event, but because a unique experience has been created around them. Advertisers can proudly say, even if they did not have the most popular ad to run that day, that their brand is being talked about and shared by the very people they want to reach, the massive Super Bowl audience. This is the best result an advertiser could ask for.

So even if the Super Bowl isn’t the biggest sporting event in the world, for advertisers it has become the greatest experience for their brand. And for most, likely worth every penny.

Gary Koepke is chief creative officer at SapientNitro North America

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