60-Second Science

Close Super Bowl Boosts Ad at End

An ad right after a suspenseful game made a bigger impression on viewers than ads during the game. Christopher Intagliata reports

Advertisers will drop $3.5 million for a 30-second spot during Sunday’s Super Bowl. But to get the most bang for their buck, they might want to play their ad right after the game ends—not during it. Because if it's a close one, the time slot right after the final gun should have the most sway with viewers. So says a study in the Journal of Advertising. [Colleen C. Bee and Robert Madrigal, It’s Not Whether You Win Or Lose, It’s How The Game Is Played: The Influence of Suspenseful Sports Programming on Advertising (forthcoming, no link yet)]

Researchers had 112 undergrads watch old college basketball games. Half saw a suspenseful match; the others, a landslide win. And each game had four randomly-inserted ads: two halfway through, two at game’s end.

Turns out the brand advertised right after a suspenseful game made the biggest impression on students. The authors say that's because a viewer's arousal builds during the game. And after a win, all that excitement gets transferred to the ad. But only if the ad itself is thrilling—like a dramatic Nike ad they played. A dull Sudafed infomercial fumbled in the same slot.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Giants, either. As long as there’s a nail-biter, that final ad may be poised to score a touchdown.

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast,] 

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