Key Takeaways

  • Advertisers are leveraging live and tentpole events (typically broadcast through linear TV) to reach some of their more elusive audiences.
  • Live sports and awards shows are increasingly popular avenues for this genre of ad spend because they almost guarantee a return.

Q1 2024 Encourages Inclusive Outreach

As advertising and media channels continue to diversify, reaching your target demographic becomes pretty tricky. Media consumption habits and preferences are changing all the time, which only makes anticipating these trends that much more challenging. Sometimes, it’s easier to cast a wide net, which is what many of today’s advertisers are attempting to achieve by investing in large-scale televised events.

John Link, VP of data at research firm AdImpact, offered his insight to Deadline. “The common theme [is] that these live, tentpole-type events are used as part of marketing strategies to message to vast audiences in a condensed space. The reach potential for these events remains unmatched. ... Audiences will follow these types of events in masses.”

Awards season and the first quarter of the year have officially come to a close. This period is a critical point in time for advertisers because it brings with it the triple crown of linear TV: the Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl, and the Academy Awards.

Although the 2024 awards season showed a lot of promise for ad spend, awards shows aren’t the only live events bringing in the big ad spenders. Football broadcasts, a pillar of American culture, offer highly valuable advertising opportunities, and this is true for more than just the Super Bowl. Guideline data from last year shows the sports genre was the only one to expand in October 2023, with NFL programming taking the title for both most invested programming and largest percent market share for the year.

Live Events Help Bridge the Digital Divide

As the advertising industry completes its recovery from the effects of the pandemic, live, in-person events have regained their investment potential. Needless to say, in 2020 and 2021, out-of-home events weren’t exactly a premium ad spend category.

Tentpole Telecasts Reclaim Growth

Now that live television broadcasts are in a better position to inspire attendance and viewership, advertisers are certainly taking advantage. Because these types of live tentpole events are regaining their popularity post-pandemic, advertisers can leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO) audiences feel when they aren’t in the loop with what’s going on in the world of pop culture.

And that feeling of FOMO isn’t just monetized during the time of the telecast itself. In other words, audiences don’t necessarily have to tune in to the live event to be on the pulse of what happened. After all, not everyone watched the 2022 Academy Awards, but who doesn’t remember the Chris Rock/Will Smith slapping incident? (Incidentally, Oscars viewership has steadily increased since that year.)

Make it Shareable (or Don’t Make it at All)

Suffice it to say, shareability beats all. Audiences may not have caught a message during the live broadcast itself, but an impactful ad spot lives a long life in our constantly connected world. The widespread impact of shareable content and the valuable data gained from monitoring audience interactivity make ROI for these types of ad investments practically a guarantee.

To take it a step further, many marketers are leveraging strategic partnerships with media giants such as YouTube AdBlitz to maximize shareability. According to Jay Langan, this approach intends to “amplify brand creative and achieve even more mass reach.”

Super Bowl Sports Multimillion-Dollar ROI

“I only watch it for the commercials” is something any advertiser likes to hear— especially when they’re spending millions of dollars on a 30-second ad spot. (For reference, the price tag for a 30-second spot in 2024’s Super Bowl LVIII was a whopping $7 million). The Super Bowl presents some huge opportunities for the advertising industry, especially in 2024. Guideline data shows Super Bowl LVIII’s equivalized 30-second spot price grew 11 percent compared to last year.

Attempts to Reach Elusive Audiences

The 2024 Super Bowl was an excellent example of audience overlap, in large part due to the cultural prominence of celebrity couple Taylor Swift (hit female pop sensation) and Travis Kelce (prominent male football star). In recent years, many advertisers, specifically political campaigns, have leveraged the Super Bowl telecast to attract the “elusive” male voting audience.

But Super Bowl LVIII drew nearly 60 million female viewers, the most ever recorded, showing a 9 percent increase over the previous year. The title game is the most-watched event in television history, with 123.4 million viewers. Basically, there’s little chance that your targets aren’t a part of that audience.

The Relevance Timeline According to Web Traffic

Once again, thanks to the prevalent use of social media, today’s live events don’t lose their relevance once the broadcast ends, and the Super Bowl is no exception. Super Bowl commercials, although increasingly expensive, have consistently proven they’re worth the price because these campaigns result in increased engagement and higher response rates on the web for advertisers throughout the weeks following the event. Next TV Broadcasting + Cable indicates the greatest impact was seen within the first three days after this year’s event aired but remained measurable for approximately 25 days post-spot.

And the Award Goes to ...

With the rapid rise of digital advertising platforms, linear TV has naturally had some trouble competing as of late. But as diverse digital channels further fragment audiences, tentpole events such as awards shows have become a saving grace for linear TV. For the 2024 awards season, Guideline forward bookings showcase double-digit growth across both the Grammys and Oscars equivalized 30-second unit rates. According to Jay Langan, the reasons are simple: ratings and cultural relevance via social media.

The Power of Social Media Commentary

Despite digital channels mostly outpacing linear TV, social media commentary is one reason why televised awards shows are such a big hit. Interactivity and virality across social platforms create a ripple effect that can help messages remain relevant for weeks or even months following a broadcast. In short, even broadcasts with fluctuating ratings year over year are amplified by continued social media commentary.

Disney Dishes Out the Big Bucks for 2024 Award Season

Guideline’s exclusive major advertiser bookings preview shows that interest in ad spots during the Oscars continues to grow. In 2023, the Oscars broadcast was one of only seven non-NFL sports programs in the top 100 most-watched TV broadcasts that year, based on info from Next TV Broadcasting + Cable.

Disney Advertising reported it sold all of the advertising inventory for this year’s Oscars telecast. This investment undoubtedly cost a pretty penny; Guideline’s forward bookings put the average price point of an ad spot at $1.4 million, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.

Lessons from the 2024 Award Season

Live televised events bridge the gap between digital and linear TV by leveraging the resulting media buzz to build awareness and keep themselves culturally relevant. Current ad spend data demonstrates that nowhere is this phenomenon more obvious than in sports broadcasts such as the Super Bowl and awards shows such as the Oscars.

Today’s advertising marketplace relies heavily on social media commentary and media buzz to see a return on ad spend for these big-budget tentpole events. By planning around viral moments and getting creative with their commercial spots, advertisers can reach even the most elusive audiences and maximize their ROI through live event ads.

Live television certainly isn’t dead, but it will continue to require support from digital channels such as social media to create a buzz and successfully spread a message. To reach and better resonate with your target audience, contact our team for more guidance on building your brand’s media mix

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