L2 released a study on digital lessons from awards season this week, and found that viewership for flagpole events is declining while the cost for a 30-second spot continues to increase. The 88th Academy Awards fell to an eight-year low in overall audience size (34.4 million) and 20-year low in the 18-to-49 target demographic (13.3 million). The Super Bowl, the Grammy’s and the Golden Globe Awards all saw similar declines while price for a 30-second commercial spot shot up by 14%, 10% and 52% respectively.

As a result, based on L2’s study of the efforts of 23 brands that placed Oscar ads this year, advertisers are failing to amplify their television campaigns. Once a simple social media strategy sufficed for expanding the life of a campaign, but now the attention of viewers post game is harder to grab. A few tips for brands looking to capitalize on tentpole campaigns:

Adapt SEO and SEM strategy: Most companies have a static and steady state SEO and SEM strategies, but could benefit from changing things to take advantage of searches related to the events. In facts, 30 and 60-second spots influence search more than social media. Cadillac experienced the highest spikes in Google search volume during the Oscars.


Go Native: Not everybody remembers all ads that aired during the Oscars, but even those who didn’t watch the show likely heard of the Girl Scouts cameo. This year, a local Girl Scout troop that sold cookies to celebrity attendees raised over $65,000 and generated more than $5.5  million worth of free advertising for the organization. Target took this approach as well, airing a live music video commercial during this year’s Grammy’s. The commercial garnered 3 billion impressions and an additional 3.8 million organic views on YouTube.

Analyze the value: Just because spots are for sale, doesn’t mean brands should comply. Especially as prices rise, brands should analyze whether the viewership is worth the cost. Box office information provides insight on how popular the awards shows will be, as it measures how invested they are in the nominated movies. The declining viewership of the show correlates with people’s shrinking interest in the theater. This past year was the lowest domestic box office gross in this turn of the century, after adjusting for inflation.


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