Super Bowl Ad Dilemma, Smartphones Finger Rioters, Do Stores Still Matter?

Super Bowl Ad Dilemma, Smartphones Finger Rioters, Do Stores Still Matter?

Every Super Bowl We Ask: 'Is It Still Worth It?'

The Super Bowl is Sunday. You know that. And while some high-profile advertisers such as Coke, Ford and Budweiser are sitting this one out, ad slots are sold out at roughly $5.5 million apiece. The question of who should be running Super Bowl ads is complex and depends on a range of variables. So is the spend justified? For that price you could buy about 6 million paid-search clicks on Google.

Our take:

  • More than 1 in 4 people (26%) will stream the game rather than watch on traditional TV, according to survey data -- up from 21% in 2019.
  • Traditional media face continuing audience and ad-revenue erosion, in the face of COVID-driven behavior changes and budget reallocations.
  • Digital media have been the big beneficiaries of the brand budget shift; that will only continue going forward.

Smartphone Data Locates Capitol Lawbreakers

Federal law enforcement officials have methodically been identifying the ringleaders and most violent participants in the January 6 Capital riots in Washington, DC. Some in the media and elsewhere have celebrated that smartphone selfies and social media posts self-incriminated the lawbreakers. Smartphone location data has also been instrumental in tracking the rioters. We should probably be concerned about that.

Our take:

  • Smartphone location data is a version of PII and incredibly revealing.
  • China's use of advanced technologies (i.e., facial recognition, smartphone tracking) is dystopian, but that abuse potential exists here.
  • The genie's out of the bottle; now we have to be very thoughtful as a society about data privacy.

Do Retail Stores Matter Anymore?

High profile UK retailers  Topshop and Debenhams were acquired and will now become online-only brands. Asos Plc is buying the owner of Topshop and two associated store brands; Boohoo Group is buying Debenhams, which was founded in 1778 (that's right). The acquisitions and store closures, causing thousands of layoffs, are seen as reflective traditional retail's decline.

Our take:

  • The media narrative is that traditional retail is over; that's superficial.
  • While an impressive 30% of total 2020 retail spending in the UK was online, 70%, by definition, was not. E-commerce is about 16% in the US.
  • The future of retail is not online-only; it's about the intelligent mixing of online and offline assets – stores are far from dead, though specific retailers may be.

Short Takes

  • Democrats introduced a bill to narrow platform liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
  • Google was unsuccessful in dismissing a class-action "Lockbox" Android user "spying" lawsuit.
  • Google launches its News Showcase in Australia despite its ongoing dispute with news publishers and the government.
  • Twitter is defying doomsday predictions after banning Trump; usage is holding steady.
  • Facebook's claim that small businesses will lose revenue from Apple's opt-in tracking rules turns out to be fake news.
  • Paid-search growth returned to pre-pandemic levels in Q4.
  • In 2020 product-subscription enrollments jumped 48% YoY.

Please let us know what you think. Email with suggestions and recommendations.