‘Big Game’ Viewers Treat Ads as Entertainment


RBRlogoTypical television behavior of ad-blocking or skipping is turned on its head for football’s “big game.”

For game, viewers consider the ads as entertainment first, and marketing second, according to an eMarketer study conducted for the National Retail Federation.

And while TV viewership is declining as digital video viewership grows, eMarketer projects that digital video viewers won’t outnumber TV viewers in the foreseeable future. This year, 205.7 million American adults will watch cable or satellite TV, compared with 172.1 million adults who will watch digital video — including those who watch only short-form content. While the gap narrows by 2019, traditional TV will still have more viewers than digital video — 199.6 million vs. 185.3 million.

Though in general, viewers aren’t annoyed by the ads during the Super Bowl, they’re not totally focused on hem either. Indeed, eMarketer estimates during the upcoming game U.S. adults will spend 2 hours and 28 minutes a day (on average) on their smartphones, excluding phone calls.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2015 survey, 11.2% of respondents said they always use a mobile device while watching TV in general. And 23.7% said they sometimes do so.

Some of that phone time includes social media engagement — often to share comments about the ads.

“The Super Bowl drives an incredible amount of social media commentary and interaction,” says eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Advertisers want to be where their audience is, and that’s in social media. Last year, 65 million people worldwide used Facebook to talk about the game while it was happening, according to the company.”

“Some conversations start well before kickoff; even if someone isn’t necessarily a football fan, chances are they are still curious about the ads,” says Williamson. “That’s why marketers pre-release their ads on platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. They know that if people start buzzing about an ad early, chances are the ad will get more exposure.”