Building a first-class digital advertising network requires:

  • Tight management and distribution of exclusive, sought-after content.

  • A premium syndication platform.

  • A direct sales network with strong advertising partnerships.

  • And highly transparent reporting to all stakeholders.

Super Bowl XLVIII, which became the most-watched U.S. TV event of all time, with 111.5 million viewers, showcases the synergistic benefits that occur when premium brands are linked to a premium sporting event through such a well-honed digital network.

Toyota’s re-launching of the Highlander model, in which Toyota Canada was tasked with generating excitement by associating with the Super Bowl, makes for an interesting case study.

Toyota rolled out a Highlander campaign across both broadcast and digital media, the latter deploying a combination of 15-second pre-roll and in-video brand overlays at US$50 cost per 1,000 views (CPM).

The go-to destination URL for all digital components was Toyota’s Twitter landing page. Toyota secured the hashtag #knowmore and actively tweeted out interesting factoids throughout the game, while leveraging digital media partnerships with Twitter, Facebook, Shazam, Postmedia, and SendtoNews.

Content was featured on the digital assets of more than 125 Canadian publishers, including Postmedia, Torstar, Glacier Media, Black Press, TC Media, and the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

The results speak volumes.

Super Bowl XLVIII set a new digital record in Canada, logging more than 7.6 million verifiable viewing impressions, including 4 million impressions during the Super Bowl weekend alone.

Overlay video received 861 clicks per million impressions, clocking a 0.09% click-through rate (CTR). Pre-roll netted 898 clicks per million impressions, resulting in a 0.09% CTR. Combined overlay and pre-roll garnered a solid 0.18% CTR.

The potential is obvious.

Above-the-fold, premium placement of the content, and precisely managed distribution and communication among stakeholders, was the key to success. Paula Simion, media planner for Saatchi & Saatchi, the firm representing Toyota, said they needed a turn-key programme with relatively short notice backed by a responsive and dynamic team that clearly understood message goals.

“Multiple working groups stepped up to the plate for this campaign,” Simion said. “This project showcases the flexibility and ease of partnership between Postmedia, SendtoNews, and agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi.”

The Super Bowl is the most-watched event (not just sporting event) on the planet every year. That’s not news. More importantly, I believe this year’s championship and its digital video highlight success make a compelling case for a bright digital future for publishers and newspaper.coms.

Digital broadcasting of short-form video for the Internet is influencing how publishers leverage high-quality digital sports video. In Canada, the distribution of Super Bowl highlights across an extensive network of publishers provided great value to advertising and sponsorship partners, and a network of digital publishers.

At the same time, it tapped a huge audience that never existed before and delivered premium ad dollars that were previously unattainable.

In essence, it is no different than creating a new, national, sports-centric newspaper to sell against with no major added infrastructural costs.

Take our Super Bowl inventory, for example. At an ad inventory sellout, it would amount to US$350,000 in revenue in five days, all from one sport. I’ll take those digital dimes any day.

Clearly the sports industry has been watching the success of digital short form video.

Case in point: on February 14, Time Inc., MLB Advanced Media, and Silver Chalice announced plans to launch the 24-hour, live-streaming online network “120 Sports” with content from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and other partners.

Chances are we’re only going to see more diversification and new entrants into this rapidly evolving digital video ecosystem.