Super Bowl LII: Return On Investment Or Return On Engagement?

February 7, 2018

It’s the week following the Super Bowl and my local news feed is full of stories covering the economic impact of hosting the big game. And much like hosting the Olympics, Super Bowl ROI is a contentious issue.

A pre-event estimate commissioned by the Super Bowl Host Committee projected a $338.4 million net impact for this year’s game, including contribution to jobs, GDP, wages and taxes. Several economists claim that estimate is overstated, with a more realistic impact coming in as low as 10 percent of that.

Source: Rockport Analytics

While measuring ROI is certainly justified, especially considering the investment in the U.S. Bank Stadium — built at a cost of about $1.1 billion, funded in no small part by state taxpayers ($348 million) and Minneapolis residents ($150 million) — I have to admit that I’m disappointed that the Super Bowl impact isn’t quantified and qualified in more ways.

Unlike other investments, events and experiences require a nuanced and sophisticated approach to understand impact. Certainly, immediate financial payoff jumps to the top of most KPIs, but the best experiences are designed to deliver so much more than revenue, and if you aren’t measuring them, you’re missing out on key insights and opportunities.

I think we can all agree that by any measure, Super Bowl LII was a big deal. For one very frozen week, our fair city was the center of the sports universe, leaving an impression on more than a million people, including 125,000 out-of-towners. What I’m left wondering is: What did that do for us?

  • How has Minnesota’s net promoter score changed?
  • How have we shifted points of view? Educated new audiences?
  • How have we built pride and loyalty for our brand?

Perhaps in the coming weeks we’ll understand more, but in the meantime, it serves as a reminder to go into every experiential endeavor with not only a comprehensive list of KPIs, but a rock-solid plan on how to measure and glean insights from the results, and to ultimately know what success looks like, because it’s rarely just about the money.*

If you’re thinking about investing in activations for your brand, here are some thought-starters on performance indicators:

  • Total registrations/RSVPs/attendees, including the actual number of people who show up
  • Gross revenue (if applicable), including a cost to revenue ratio
  • Event website/online activity measurement, including conversions
  • Sound bites/anecdotes
  • Product interactions (trial, sampling, purchase, feedback)
  • Media coverage
  • Retail traffic, redemptions, purchase (if applicable)
  • Attendee satisfaction surveys, including net promoter score
  • Speaker and onsite engagement and participation
  • Live polling response or app usage at event
  • Social media mentions & engagement
  • Sponsor engagement
  • Partner and vendor satisfaction
  • New and returning attendee/customer engagement
  • Number of qualified sales leads or customers acquired, including a cost per customer acquisition

Every experience is different, requiring unique KPIs and ways to measure impact, but you’d be surprised at how many brands don’t think about results until after their event concludes.

Ultimately, whatever you measure should be used to inform an overall understanding of your attendee’s experience, because there’s a point at which a positive or negative experience is so strong that it transcends the rational aspects of a brand (e.g. availability, quality, price). That’s why investing in a positive and memorable attendee experience is so important. Experience creates an emotional response and fuels engagement, and together that is what will impact your brand and business outcomes.

And if we didn’t mention it, we’d love to help you create an insight-driven experience for your brand.

* Money is still important. Very important.