Super Bowl XLVI and the Cloud

Super Bowl XLVITomorrow afternoon, the parties will be going strong as millions of people watch Super Bowl XLVI. Approximately 200 miles away from here, Indianapolis will be wild and crazy as 10’s of thousands of fans flock to the city for the big game. But most of us watching this year’s Super Bowl will be doing so from our living rooms and man caves. Not only will we be watching the big game, but we will also be tuning it to watch the commercials. And hopefully they are witty, funny and live up to our high expectations of Super Bowl ads. It’s no secret that Super Bowl commercials generate lots of ad revenue for the TV network and this year is no exception. This year, NBC increased the price of the 30-second Super Bowl spot by 17% to $3.5 million. That’s a little more than $116,000 for each second. Even though that seems like a lot of money, NBC sold all 70 spots by Thanksgiving.

At first glance, the huge cost of Super Bowl ads seem ridiculous. But when you take a moment and consider the value for advertisers, it’s pretty easy to understand why advertisers love the Super Bowl. Advertisers normally pay a $35 CPM (cost per every thousand viewers) for a 30-second ad during a hit TV show. Last year’s Super Bowl had 111 million viewers, which means advertisers only paid a $27 CPM. If you have a massive TV advertising budget, the Super Bowl is a better bang for your buck than other popular ad slots.

Most of the ads have sizable production budgets, are witty, funny and make us want more. Usually included in the ad is a call to action that leads us to the web to get more. This is a great opportunity to start a dialog with current and future customers and a great way to convert marketing spend into targeted leads and sales. Unfortunately, if you don’t plan for the massive amount of traffic that you are likely to see in a short burst on Super Bowl Sunday, your marketing strategy and $3.5 million commercial could be a HUGE failure.

During Super Bowl XLIV, Dockers had a brilliant marketing concept to capture information of viewers interested in Dockers pants. They produced a great ad and followed it up with a great call to action. Register at Dockers.com/FreePants to get a free pair of Dockers.

The marketing worked and the Dockers web site got flooded with users registering for free pants. Unfortunately, the planning and execution of resources for the web site wasn’t successful and users trying to register got extremely slow response times and eventually failures and errors.

Today, it is easier than ever to handle this scenario and eliminate these costly fails. Public cloud platforms like Windows Azure make it extremely easy and affordable to handle burst and seasonal workloads like Super Bowl Sunday. Prior to the cloud, organizations had to acquire hardware, install and configure¬† that hardware in their data centers, and invest lots of capital to accommodate peak demand that may only occur once and for a brief period of time. This can be a very costly solution. With the cloud, you scale-up, on-demand to handle your demand. When the demand declines, you turn off the extra resources. You only pay for the resources for the time you used them, and not when you don’t need them.

Innovation in the consumption of computing resources with the cloud, make it affordable and simple to implement massive web and social campaigns, like those required for Super Bowl Sunday. As a result of this innovation, there is no reason for failures like the Dockers failure from Super Bowl XLIV. I’m anxious to see this year’s witty and funny Super Bowl ads. And I’m also anxious to see if there are any failures caused by a lack of computing resources. And if you are really anxious like me, you can get an early viewing of some of tomorrow’s ads at the following sites.

Business Insider
Ad Age
Adweek