Feb 4th, 2018: The Big Game
The Big Game Impacts Minneapolis’ Local Advertising Landscape
To many people, the big game is as much about the TV commercials as it is about the game. With all that anticipation and viewer engagement there comes a hefty price tag. For a cool $5 million, advertisers can show a 30-second TV spot to a captive audience of 110 million Americans. In addition to unbeatable exposure comes the priceless Monday morning watercooler chatter that follows.
However, there’s another aspect of the big game that doesn’t get as much national attention: Local advertising. For advertisers without the deep pockets of the Budweisers and Coca-Colas of the world, local opportunities provide a chance to align with the excitement and commotion of the big game.
As February 4th approaches, Minneapolis is bracing for the influx of an expected one million visitors coming to enjoy the big game and 10 days of festivities leading up to it. These visitors will bring bellies to feed, cars to park, and the need for hotel rooms. Game-day tickets start around $3,000 a piece, so one can expect a very affluent crowd with money to spend. In fact, each visitor is expected to spend $625 per day, which economists project will result in $400 million piped directly into the local economy. Not only will these visitors bring their disposable incomes, but also, millions of eyeballs that advertisers desperately want to get in front of.
Local advertising in the big game host city, Minneapolis
Local advertising agencies with an intimate knowledge of the marketplace have an exciting opportunity to deliver abundant impressions to affluent audiences within the context of big game excitement. Some agencies are even rebranding themselves as big game advertising specialists to capitalize on both mass audiences headed to MSP and brands’ desires to align with the big game.
A quick Google search of “big game advertising opportunities” brings up a paid search ad for “big game” advertising services offering local media plans aimed around the big game. However, a deeper look will show that the ad drives to a landing page created by a local agency taking advantage of the need for local publishers, OOH, and broadcast experts. This is a great example of how local companies are tying in their products and services to the big game buzz.
Increases in Website Traffic
With the mass arrival of visitors in the coming weeks, local publishers should see an increase in traffic to their digital sites driven by tourists looking for restaurants, hotels, shops, weather, news, and happenings. Websites like City Pages, Star Tribune, and MSP Mag have an opportunity to position themselves as local experts by providing relevant content to those searching for local information and recommendations.
More Impressions, Same Price
Interestingly, even with the expected increase in site visitors, local publishers do not seem to be increasing prices accordingly for flat rate placements such as homepage takeovers. This means that although publishers are expecting more impressions — up to a 1000% increase in some cases — advertisers can purchase sponsorships at a standard rate and enjoy all those extra impressions as “added value”.
Production Ramps Up
The situation is mirrored with local print publications; although readership is expected to be higher and publishers are ramping up production in anticipation, advertisers can still take advantage of standard rates with increased circulation. Some publishers have even created “big game”-specific cross-channel packages at discounted rates.
Out of home (OOH) media
With its high impact format and finite availability, out of home media is seeing high demand during the big game and its lead-up. OOH media presents a unique opportunity for the big game, specifically since visitors will likely be out and about, exploring the city and participating in the events leading up to it.
10X the Average Rate for OOH
Unlike what we’re seeing with local publishers, OOH vendors are taking advantage of this unique opportunity and, in some cases, charging 10 times the average rate and requiring at least 4-6 week flights. The highest-demand OOH placements for the big game timeframe include Mall of America signage, billboards downtown (especially near the stadium), skyway boards, metro transit media, and airport advertising. In fact, the day following the big game is expected to be the busiest day at MSP airport ever recorded – that’s a lot of impressions!
OOH Inventory is Almost Gone
With the big game quickly approaching, a majority of OOH inventory has already been scooped up. Some local politicians have taken note of the increased demand and are pushing for a change in the zoning code which would allow additional billboards and outdoor advertising structures to be built downtown. If passed, the newly built ad space would undoubtedly be sold for a major premium.
Reserved Spots for Local Advertisers
We all know that national TV is the holy grail when it comes to big game advertising, and nearly all TV spots are sold to national advertisers. However, a handful of spots are reserved for local advertisers. Running your in-game ad in a local market will cut the $5 million price tag down to a fraction of that cost and yet most advertisers are still turned off by the high premium.
If local advertisers are considering investing in spots, 2018 might be the year to do it. Although over 1 million visitors are expected, only 66,655 are ticket holders, which leaves hundreds of thousands of viewers watching the big game on TV in the Minneapolis market. As the host city, Minneapolis might see higher viewership than previous years due to fans wanting to experience The Big Game at ground zero. Plus, if the Minnesota Vikings make it to the big game, viewership among residents will likely increase too.
Added Viewership, High Premiums
Unlike print and local digital publishers, the added viewership expected for in-game spots is coming at a very high premium. Traditionally, spots in the Minneapolis DMA for the big game have cost advertisers well under 100k. Not this year, with prices being 2-3x higher depending on the positioning of the spots. Although the big game does deliver a more engaged audience than typical prime programming – especially in regard to the advertisements – the massive premium may prove to be inefficient. However, considering in-game spots are completely sold out, advertisers are seeing value in the unique exposure that only the big game can provide.
Vikings Would Boost Ratings
Also consider the fact that the Vikings are in contention to play in The Big Game in their home stadium (which would be an NFL first). Translation? The added boost of hosting the big game is compounded by the success of the Vikings, putting local broadcast inventory in high demand. Minnesota-based sports-related programs like KFAN are pulling in high ratings, which in turn is drawing in advertisers. These opportunities may be more attainable for marketers, but they will still be much higher than the standard rate for a :30s spot and are already selling out.
The bold north
Along with any massive gathering of people comes brands wanting to share their message and make an impact. The same is true of its host state – the state of Minnesota recognizes the opportunity it has to advertise itself to new comers in a way that will make a lasting impression. The host committee has branded Minnesota as “The Bold North”, in hopes of fostering “lasting economic growth for the state while providing an enduring legacy of inclusiveness and prosperity for all Minnesotans.”
Ten Days of Celebration
The big game is no longer a 3-hour event. This year the host committee is putting on a 10-day festival full of big game-related events and activities leading up to the game. This presents the local advertising industry with new opportunities to leverage the excitement of big game. Whether brands want to spend $150k on an in-game spot or take advantage of a local homepage takeover, 2018 presents unique opportunities for local advertisers to take advantage of big game related marketing. This gives brands plenty of opportunities to jump into the festivities and share their message with the one million-plus excited football fans making the trek to the Bold North.