The Super Bowl Was Boring, So Were Most of the Ads

Defying predictions of close game, the Super Bowl was essentially over early in the first half. Unless you're a rabid Tom Brady fan, it was mostly a disappointing and boring game. The majority of commercials were unremarkable, though a few stood out as clever or humorous. At a cost of roughly $5.5 million each, only a tiny fraction will move the needle for brands.

Our Take:

  • Budweiser has historically been the largest Super Bowl advertiser by ad spend, with little to show for it over the years.
  • Except in limited circumstances, the millions spent on Super Bowl ads are largely wasted.
  • Redirecting those dollars to digital branding or performance-based marketing would be much more efficient.

Yelp Analysis Shows Greater SMB Resilience than Expected

New Yelp data shows greater SMB resilience than what many SMB surveys have suggested. The Yelp findings come from activity on the site rather than surveys. The company says re-openings/new business openings in 2020 and specifically Q4, overall, were strong and evidence of a recovery in process. Restaurants and Food, Home and Professional Services and Automotive were most resilient. Retail and Shopping were down 25% YoY. Trends were uneven regionally.

Our Take:

  • The Yelp data is likely more accurate than surveys in revealing the state of SMBs, but may not be entirely representative either.
  • Rather than the feared "mass extinction event," the Yelp data suggest most SMBs have weathered the pandemic better than expected.
  • We will get a much better picture of SMB "casualties" from US government data in the coming months.

Amazon Ad Revenue in Q4: Nearly $8 Billion  

Ad sales at Amazon are growing faster than other segments. Boosted by pandemic-buying trends, Amazon ad revenues jumped 64% year-over-year in the fourth quarter – reaching $7.95 billion. A year ago they were $4.8 billion. Although a more mature business, subscription services (including Amazon Prime), grew at roughly half that rate. Full year ad revenues at the company came in at roughly $21.5 billion.

Our Take:

  • The impressive story of ad revenue growth was largely overshadowed by the story of Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO.
  • Still well behind Google and Facebook, ad sales and revenue at Amazon will become an even bigger focus.
  • Expect further revenue acceleration in 2021 – a development Google will welcome as part of its defense against antitrust claims.  
Amazon Q4 earnings release

Short Takes

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