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Good Question: Why Are Super Bowl Ads Already Online?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you like to be surprised by new, fresh and exciting Super Bowl ads, you’re going to have a tough time this year. More than half of the advertisers have released videos either teasing their commercials, or the companies released the actual commercial that will run during the game.

So, doesn’t releasing the ads early spoil the surprise?

“I don’t think it ruins it at all. I actually think it builds the anticipation,” said Christine Fruechte, President and CEO of Colle + McVoy, a Minneapolis ad agency.

Two weeks ago, Volkswagen got tails wagging with barking dogs teasing their Super Bowl commercial. More than 10 million YouTube clicks later, Volkswagen released the ad.

“I’m coining the Super Bowl the ‘social bowl.’ Last year they were releasing ads three days or three hours before the game. This year, you had the first teaser three weeks before,” she said.

The perceived benefit to advertisers is increasingly obvious, in an age of Facebook and Twitter. The $3.5 million or $4 million ad buy, gets spread from one day to multiple weeks.

“Let’s say I have that spot air once. If I can extend that investment before or after, that’s impactful,” she said.

However, it’s not a slam dunk, and half of the advertisers are choosing to keep their ads a secret until the actual Super Bowl.

There are doubts that the early buzz translated into action for the brand.

“I’m not convinced that [it] actually works to enhance their brand image or to enhance sales of products,” said Michael Griffin, a media and cultural studies lecturer at Macalester College .

He speculates that part of why advertisers aren’t worried about ruining the big surprise is that the storylines are so familiar. We’ll be seeing talking babies, polar bears, and monkey again.

“Maybe because they don’t feel like they’re really gonna be able to create that wow moment of something really new, that they need it try to make it an extended experience or something,” said Griffin.

Griffin said, he thinks you might get more engagement with the brand after the Super Bowl, more engagement that involves potential action, “If you really had it be a surprise and the whole discovery was a more intense experience during the game.”

Fruechte disagreed.

“You’re gonna get clicks afterward, so why wouldn’t you want clicks and conversation beforehand,” she said.

The companies are certainly experimenting. For three weeks, Adriana Lima’s been starting our engines for Kia – the first time ever a teaser has been released in movie theaters.

The reality is the millions that click online in advance don’t come close to the 100 million who watch ads on TV, and the tens of millions who click after the game.

“Advertising is more of an art than a science. There’s no good data on whether releasing the ads early works or doesn’t,” said Griffin.

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