For its 4th consecutive year, YouTube is doing a huge promotional contest for the Super Bowl to try and prove that major brands need to embrace online video as an extension of their television campaign efforts, now more so than ever. Learn more about this contest, which advertisers are in and which ones are out, and what YouTube hopes to accomplish.

YouTube’s Ad Blitz Contest – Votes for Super Bowl TV Ads

YouTube’s Ad Blitz Contest is their own annual Super Bowl® ad contest, built to allow users to vote on all of the television commercials that will be aired during the Super Bowl.
Here’s how it will work:

  • YouTube will air all of the 2011 Super Bowl Commercial spots on their Ad Blitz channel, on game day, the minute they air on television.
  • When the game ends, YouTube users can vote for their favorite 2011 commercial up until February 14th (midnight PST)
  • YouTube will reward the Super Bowl with the most positive (“thumbs up”) votes a home page masthead banner display on February 19th for the entire day.

YouTube’s Business Objective: Why Are They Doing This?

YouTube wants to get brands to extend the life of their Super Bowl ad campaigns with a YouTube media buy. YouTube stated in their press release:

“Since advertisers spend a lot of money on Super Bowl ads, game day shouldn’t be the only time to watch them. We know that people are going online during, right after, and even weeks after the Super Bowl to find these ads.”

Contests around the Super Bowl have typically been a marketing strategy produced by a couple brands already, albeit reserved for film producers to produce ads that people can vote for online, such as this year’s Doritos®’ and PepsiMax®’s Crash The Super Bowl campaign. What YouTube wants to show with their own contest is that a combined buy of online video + television is important and much more effective than TV alone, especially around the most popular annual sports event in the USA.

“It’s pretty much common sense that if you’re pouring $3 million into a 30-second spot (+production costs), you’re going to want to squeeze every nickel out of that investment” said a spokesperson for YouTube.

Still, some of the perennial Super Bowl TV advertisers have been passing on YouTube. That list of hold-outs includes Anheuser-Busch, Best Buy, Paramount Pictures, and Mars, Inc. (Snickers) – all huge buyers of TV ad space. Google, YouTube’s parent company, is likely hoping that their contest and winning prize could bring enough buzz to encourage those holdouts to reconsider a media buy with YouTube.

Does Online Video Improve TV Campaign Performance?

We covered here at ReelSEO about the video advertising technology company YuMe‘s recent white paper and industry report: Online Video and Television Viewing Attitudes and Behaviors. The report, based on a survey of online video viewers intercepted across YuMe’s own ad network, concurs with YouTube’s own assessment that TV advertisers who haven’t been incorporating online video advertising should start doing so.

To quote the report:

“While marketers can reach the majority of their audience through TV, there is a small-but-(rapidly)-growing, complementary audience that is more accessible through online video. Moreover, marketers will learn that reaching their audience through multiple channels improves campaign performance across the board… Marketers who aren’t currently utilizing online video as an extension of their TV advertising are missing out on a tremendous opportunity.”

Here are some key findings of YuMe’s report:

  • Online Video Content is on Par with TV: Viewers’ perception of the quality of video content online has improved, and more than 50% of respondents felt they could find more exclusive content online than TV
  • Online Viewers are More Engaged with Ads: Multi-tasking is more pervasive when watching television ads than when watching online video ads; 58% of respondents said they do things around the house when ads come on TV versus 26% for ads online.
  • Heavy Online Video Viewers Can’t Be Reached with TV: Heavy online video viewers are reducing their television viewing yet they are increasing their online video viewing which indicates it will be even more difficult to reach these viewers via television in the future.

What’s YouTube’s Contest Prize Worth to a TV Advertiser?

A YouTube spokesperson informed me that while they don’t generally care to talk about their rate card (since those figures are always adjusting to the market demand), a homepage takeover averages out to be around $375,000 for the entire day. That is certainly some sweet, free, prominent ad placement front-and-center of the largest viewing audience anywhere online.

Let’s also compare the costs: It’s a $3 million investment for a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl, versus an annual spend of around $250K for a YouTube brand channel. Here’s some math:

Super Bowl TV Ad: $3 million for a single 30 second spot (1 half-minute).

YouTube: Around $250K for 1 year = 365 days = 8760 hours = 1,051,200 half minutes

Super Bowl TV Ad-to-YouTube Spend-to-Time Ratio: 1:12,614,400

Obviously there’s a much larger audience with the Super Bowl than who are expected to actually watch your ad. But data like what the YuMe report provides could be evidence that an online video viewer to your ad is considerably more valuable than a television viewer. So if you weight the costs of reach versus the value of the viewer in their appropriate channel, along with a data that shows a combined media buy is more effectively that a separate channel buy, it appears to make good sense for the hold-outs to reconsider a YouTube channel.

The Complete List: 2011 Super Bowl TV Advertisers + YouTube

Below is a complete list of the 2011 Super Bowl TV advertisers, with links to their respective YouTube brand channels. (You may also be able to see many of these commercials in one place – on the superbowladsman YouTube channel.)

Confirmed Super Bowl TV ads (as of 2/3/2011)Official YouTube (Super Bowl) Brand Channel2011 Super Bowl YouTube Videos
Anheuser-Busch InBev(None found)
(Stella Artois does have a brand channel, but nothing with their Super Bowl ad)
AudiAudiofAmericaAudi Big Game 2011 Teaser – Startled Smart
Audi Big Game 2011 Teaser – Kenny G Riot Suppressor (Part 2) (Audi has this same commercial play in multiple languages on their YouTube websites, such as AudiClubEspana and AudiCzechRepublic)
Best Buy(none)n/a
BridgestoneBridgestone Super BowlBridgestone Teaser – Reply All
Captain America (Movie Trailer) (Paramount Pictures)(none)n/a
CareerBuilder.comcareerbuilderCareerBuilder – Parking Lot
Cars.comCarscom(Actual commercial) Super Bowl 2011 Commercial: Go First
(Actual commercial) Super Bowl 2011 Commercial: The Reviews are In
Coca Colacocacola
Cowboys & Aliens (Movie from Universal Studios / IGNEntertainment)IGN EntertainmentCowboys & Aliens Trailer
DoritosCrashtheSuperBowlCrash the Super Bowl contest finalists:
Best Part
Birthday Wish
Adam & Eve
Pug Attack
House Sitting
E-TradeetradeNEW Uncensored E*TRADE Baby (Teaser – “Didn’t make it into this year’s Big Game”)
GMgmblogs (ad not available on channel, but is available on superbowladsman)2011 GM Chevy Super Bowl Commercial “Bumblebee”
Go DaddygodaddyGo Daddy 2011 Super Bowl Ad – The Contract (Official)
HomeAwayhomeawayvacationHomeAway Commercial for Super Bowl XLV – Test Baby – Ministry of Detourism
‪Extended Version of the HomeAway Commercial for Super Bowl XLV
HyundaiHMAUSA2011 Elantra: Sheep or 2011 Elantra: Childhood
2011 Hyundai Sonata Family
KiaKiaMotorsAmerica2011 Kia Optima: “One Epic Ride” Big Game Commercial
Kung Fu Panda 2 (Paramount Pictures)n/aKung Fu Panda 2 Movie Trailer Official (HD)
Limitless (movie by Relativity Media LLC & I Am – Official Trailer (HD) Trailer ‘Speed Date’ Making of ‘Speed Date’
MotorolamotorolaGoodbye 1984: Super Bowl Ad Teaser (n/a on own brand channel, though)
Pepsi Max®CrashtheSuperBowlElevator Girl
Love Hurts
First Date
Torpedo Cooler
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesdisneypiratesPirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides: 10 Sec Preview Spot
Rango (Movie trailer by Paramout Pictures)n/aRango | OFFICIAL trailer US (2011)
Rio Movie trailer featuring Angry Birds (FOX Movies)FoxMoviesAngry Birds Rio Trailer Trailer – The Making of Do Impossible Things As A Team
Snickers (Mars, Inc.)n/an/a
Super 8 Movie Trailer (Paramount Pictures)n/aSuper 8 – Official Movie Trailer (HD)
SuzukiSuzukiAutomotive‪Suzuki – Kizashi vs. Wicked Weather :93
TelefloraTelefloraFlowersTeleflora – Faith Hill Behind the Scenes
Thor (movie trailer, MARVEL)MARVELThor – Trailer (OFFICIAL)
Transformers 3 (Paramount Pictures)n/aTransformers 3 Dark of the Moon Trailer – Official (HD)
VolkswagenvolkswagenVolkswagen Commercial: The Force

The Missed Search Opportunity for Brand Hold-Outs

YouTube wants to show that online video advertising helps extend the reach of those companies that are doing advertising on the Super Bowl, and hopes this will be a push for remaining major brands who’ve been holding out to eventually come on board with them.

What’s evident right now is the large amount of searches on YouTube for all of the Super Bowl ads. That’s a big missed opportunity for the major brands without their own “official” channel on YouTube, which are basically giving choice advertising opportunities with their own keywords to their competitors.

Not only that, but “super bowl commercials 2011” has been one of the top 10 “Hot Searches” according to Google Trends for this past week. So to not showcase anything in the top search engine and video sharing site about your upcoming TV ad, not even a teaser video, just shows that these hold-outs really have been stuck in a traditional and rather outdated mindset around advertising – one that’s more “Mad Men” than a real embrace of new media.

What I Would Have Liked to See With YouTube’s Ad Blitz Contest

I hope YouTube is successful with this contest, and I have a few suggestions for what they could incorporate in their contest next year so as to be even more persuasive with TV advertisers:

  • Have separate categories to vote on. A few that come to mind from this 2011 list could include: best movie trailer, best teaser, best “making of,” and best extended commercial. Naturally you could still have the major home page award for the best overall TV ad, but this would also allow people to see the more of the actual ad previews on the brand channels.
  • Include the contest in multiple languages. The Super Bowl is billed as a sporting event with an international audience. So why not make the ad blitz in multiple languages, on YouTube’s multiple language channels? (Audi is one such company that is already having their Kenny G Riot Suppressor Super Bowl Ad appear in their own multiple YouTube language sites.)
  • Combine the vote and like-dislike totals across the Ad Blitz site with the total YouTube viewers (of the ad). I understand there may be some issues with the quality control of viewers on this one, but if YouTube wants to emphasis the value of online reach, they should consider that reach going beyond votes on their own contest, maybe?

The Super Bowl Ad I Would Have Liked To See On TV

My editor Mark wanted me to pick a TV ad from the bunch that would serve as a good representation of the YouTube Ad Blitz Contest. Well, I decided instead just to give you the full link list and make that choice for yourself. (It’s not like any of those TV advertisers are paying me to give them a promo here, are they?)

So since I don’t believe in offering any favoritism for a single YouTube advertiser, I’ve given my award for “The Super Bowl Ad I Would Have Liked To See on TV,” to this one below. It’s actually a review of the beer Stella Artois, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch (one of the Super Bow TV ad hold-outs to YouTube). Granted, it’s not an ad per-se, and I don’t think Anheuser-Busch would ever air something like this to promote their beer. But hell with that, I say! After all, isn’t this how most of us are going to actually be when we’re watching the Super Bowl? (I know I will be, no matter if the Steelers win or lose. ;)