The National Football League’s playoffs started this past weekend. And while the games may have been duds — all were double-digit victories by the favored teams — advertisers still bet big on audiences tuning in.
Official NFL insurance sponsor Nationwide was one of the biggest winners, capturing the best average view rate (AVR), 98.38 percent, of all NFL advertisers, according to data from iSpot.tv. (Average view rate is the percentage of an ad that is, on average, watched across all airings of that ad.) Nationwide achieved that enviable level of viewer attention with spots including “Songs For All Your Sides,” featuring Leslie Odom Jr.
Competitive insurance provider GEICO utilized multiple spots to earn audience attention, and also scored high average view rates. “Barbershop,” featuring former New York Giant Tiki Barber, topped the list for individual spots at 99.13 percent.
Over the course of two days of playoff action, brands spent an estimated $224.8 million on their TV ads, according to iSpot.tv.
Official NFL sponsor Verizon led the way in terms of estimated total spend, just outpacing GEICO, which is not a league-wide sponsor. The NFL, clearly invested in pushing its own content, was third, followed by AT&T and another non-league sponsor, Toyota, to round out the top five.
The biggest spend didn’t necessarily equate to the most attention from viewers. TurboTax’s two spots on the weekend dominated the digital share of voice, owning 17.68 percent (tops among advertisers), according to iSpot.tv. They were followed by Nationwide, which took home 14.21 percent of digital SOV.
GEICO’s spots generated the most TV ad impressions overall — nearly 241 million — which corresponds well with their total spend for the four games. Official sponsor McDonald’s was close behind, followed by the NFL, CBS (which aired one of the games) and Ford.
Other widely seen during the NFL playoffs included Southwest’s “I Am Fenwick” ad (146 million TV ad impressions), Fox Sports 1’s push for the Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe-hosted “Undisputed” (100 million) and Chevrolet’s “Four Years in a Row” spot (also just over 100 million).
So the takeaway here? As always, it’s not about the dollars you spend advertising during large events, but the deployment of those dollars. Nationwide and GEICO spent big and reaped the rewards despite very different strategies. The same goes for TurboTax, which banked on the impending tax season, and star power from DJ Khaled and David Ortiz, to make a big splash with a smaller budget.
The same brands and spots are likely to appear again next weekend during the NFL’s Divisional Playoff round. We’ll see if advertisers, like the teams on the field, make any adjustments at all.