Super Bowl Advice for Business: Invest in Big Data Rather Than Big Ads

Don Tennant
Slide Show

Seven Reasons Marketers Must Pay Attention to Big Data

It’s amazing what some companies will do to get your attention so they can sell you stuff. Take, for example, those companies that are spending $4 million for a 30-second ad to get your attention during Sunday’s Super Bowl. Did you ever wonder how much those ads boost the companies’ sales? Well, in the cases of four out of five of the ads, the increase is exactly zero. Absolutely nothing. What might that $4 million have bought if it had been invested in Big Data rather than a big ad?

According to a recent article on, a study by advertising research firm Communicus found that 80 percent of Super Bowl ads fail to actually sell anything. The problem with Super Bowl ads is that they tend to focus more on creativity, and less on the brand. That means we all may be talking Monday morning about the hilarious commercial we saw during the Super Bowl, but chances are we have no idea what it was trying to sell. In other words, despite the obscene amount of money the company shelled out, it failed to make a connection between its brand and the consumer. Enter Lisbeth McNabb.

McNabb is CEO of DigiWorks Corp., a Dallas-based digital marketing services provider that’s all about leveraging Big Data to establish that one-to-one connection between brands and consumers. I spoke with McNabb last week, and she explained how online retailers can capture the Super Bowl opportunity:

As we look at events as a way to bring consumers to retail establishments, we’re used to thinking about a brand or a retailer trying to bring people together, and with the Super Bowl it’s all about the big ads. All of that’s really important, but the reality is Big Data is enabling the building of one-to-one relationships with consumers. So while big ads get you talked about, one-to-one marketing can close the deal, and create the revenue. That’s what we’re seeing out there.

McNabb said it’s a matter of getting the right offer to the right customer at the right time:

It’s about the Super Bowl as an occasion. For a woman having 40 people coming to her house for the Super Bowl, it’s about having the right bowl for the chips, and the right [seating] inside the home. For a 25-year-old male, it may be about adding an electronic component. So having that conversation around the occasion of the Super Bowl brings up the topic of having an event inside your home. At the same time, some of our customers are in the business of bringing people in to watch sporting events at their establishments. What Big Data does differently, and what we’re doing differently, is shifting away from blind messaging, which is sending the same message to the 40-year-old mom and the 25-year-old single person, because it doesn’t resonate.

McNabb used one of DigiWorks’ customers as an example:

One of our clients is World Kitchen—they have brands like Corelle, CorningWare, and Pyrex. They’re about food, and about the occasion—preparing and serving food at an event. We know that the occasion of the Super Bowl is also about the party. And what World Kitchen is able to do is take the relationships they have with the people who have been buying from them on their e-commerce site, and talk to them. If they’ve been buying more Corelle products, let’s target them with a serving bowl. If they’ve been buying more cookware, let’s talk about making football-shaped potato skins. What we’re seeing is these micro and medium-size retailers are often more agile, and getting to these one-to-one relationships faster.

So how can online retailers take what they’ve captured from the Super Bowl opportunity and apply it to other opportunities throughout the year? McNabb said it’s all about capturing opportunities to build that one-to-one relationship:

With every opportunity, you add another layer. What Big Data does, and what this one-to-one relationship with your customer does, is it allows you to take what you learned about your customer around the Super Bowl, and use that. When the person came to your site, what was he looking at? You’re able to tuck that away, and roll forward to Valentine’s Day, or do a spiritual holiday. You get a little bit more from the 20 percent of customers who tend to buy repeatedly. The Super Bowl opportunity becomes all about supplying data you can use to engage the customer the rest of the year. The bottom line is that the Super Bowls is no longer just about big ads. It’s about leveraging Big Data.

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