While there were a lot of interesting commercials for the 2018 Superbowl, two caught my eye: Squarespace and Wix. If you haven't seen them, they're worth a quick watch:
These two ads stood out to me because they're not massive brands with huge public name recognition. Also, they're direct competitors for what could appear to be a non-differentiated online service.
Investing in a $5M Superbowl ad seems ludicrous for most growth-stage companies. Nowadays with highly attributable online conversion machines, it's hard to imagine spending that kind of money on a 'branding' exercise that isn't directly attributable.
In the SaaS world, companies are generally willing to spend around $1 to acquire each new dollar of Annual Contract Value (ACV) from a new customer - that is to say if you have an annual contract value of $10,000, companies are willing to spend $10,000 in order to acquire that customer (that is a fully-baked number - including sales commissions, G&A, salaries...the works) - the model being that these customers stay with you long enough, and your margins are high enough that the customer pays for this acquisition cost many times over.
Side note: A general rule of thumb is that you want this customer to have a Lifetime Value (LTV) of 3x's the cost to acquire (CAC); or an LTV to CAC ratio of 3:1 or more.
Squarespace, as an example has a $12 monthly fee (billed annually), or an ACV of $144 which means they'll spend (based on the benchmarks above) $144 to acquire a new customer (CAC). At $5M in spend, could they acquire ~35,000 new customers from a Superbowl Ad ($5M/$144)?
Here's how I'd think about maximizing this investment:
1) Who is your customer?
Every ad, piece of copy, sales deck starts with this question: Who is your core customer and what do they care about most? What drives them? I think Wix nailed this. They partnered with Youtube celebrities Rhett & Link who did a simple walkthrough of their basic product features highlighting how easy it is to use the service: setting up a website.
2) What is the goal?
The goal has to be less brand and more conversion to paying customers. Customers can't click to purchase from their TV, so they'll likely visit the website on their phone or computer. So, the goal is to get as many people as possible to the website, and then convert them to customers once they arrive. Logically then there should be some continuity from the ad that was just shown on TV to the web experience.
Both companies do this well, however Squarespace does a better job highlighting how Keanu actually uses their product to promote his company Arch Motorcycle. Once on the site, Squarespace does a great job outlining why Keanu uses their product.
3) How do we get them to take the first step?
Squarespace used intrigue, fancy cinematography and mass celebrity with Keanu Reeves, Wix used niche celebrity, and simple to-the-point messaging.
If I'm spending $5M on an ad, I want to highlight the reasons my core customer would want to use my product, not leave them thinking: "What did I just see?"
Early indications on Youtube views (less than 12 hours since the commercial aired) show: 235,000 for Wix and almost 400,000 for Squarespace.
However, I would guess intrigue is driving more for Squarespace than for Wix. For those that visited Wix immediately after the ad, they're more likely visiting the website to learn more about the service than to view the next chapter of a story.
Though I'm a Squarespace user myself, and think that their online dialogue with Keanu is great, Wix nails the concise messaging, and simple execution targeted to their core customers in 30 seconds more effectively than Squarespace. It probably helped that they turned this around in less than 24 hours! Sometimes simple is best.
When you're under the gun, think: who is my core customer and what is our simple message to her?