Brands in the Super Bowl spent as much as $7 million per 30-second spot this year, but a lot of the packaged-goods brands in the game saw their messages get intercepted in the end zone of e-commerce.
Analytics firm Profitero found more than 6,000 instances of brands attempting to intercept competitor brands on Amazon, Instacart and Walmart.com during the course of the game, with particularly high activity among beer and snack marketers.
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In particular, there were more than 300 instances where Constellation Brands-owned beer brands Modelo and Corona “intercepted” Anheuser-Busch InBev brands in the game by placing an ad on a key search term or product page – including Budweiser, Bud Light Next, Michelob Ultra and its Ultra Organic Seltzer, Bud Light Hard Seltzer Soda and Cutwater Spirits.
“One of the smart steals of the game was by Coors, who intercepted Michelob’s organic beer ad on Instacart, creating awareness for its own organic offering without the $7 million spent on TV advertising,” said Sarah Hofstetter, president of Profitero.
Most AB InBev beer brands in the game fared poorly at preventing rivals from intercepting their e-commerce visibility, although its canned cocktail brand Cutwater Spirits was among the best at playing defense. AB InBev controls exclusive alcohol ad rights to the game, so its brewer rivals are well-practiced at trying to crash its Super Bowl party. Molson Coors took its Big Game counter-programming tactics to new levels this year, apparently seizing on the unclaimed web domain BudLightNext.com and filling it with nonsense, as Ad Age reported last week. Representatives from Molson Coors have not commented on the incident.
Search counter-advertising against competitive ads, also known as “conquesting,” is common, but it gets more attention given the high stakes of the Super Bowl, when e-commerce sales often spike during a game that reaches a huge audience. Conquesting can mean advertisers end up paying a whole lot of money on TV in part to drive people to their competitors' e-commerce ads and listings, and then drive sales for them. Since most Super Bowl ads are announced well before the game, it’s also relatively easy for competitors to plan such strategies.
But conquesting isn’t easy to do everywhere. While Amazon and Instacart allow brands to buy rivals’ brand names, Walmart.com doesn’t, Hofstetter said.