The Super Bowl has aired, along with the much anticipated commercials those in our industry – and even those not in advertising – look forward to each and every year. In years past, a few would leak out on the Internet here and there, and buzz would generate prior to their actual air time. This year, we’ve seen an increase in ads leaked and viewed online before the Super Bowl which has created a lot of buzz on social and traditional media channels. The buzz spurred debate around the office about whether or not this takes away from the excitement of watching the ads during the big game. Our resident advertising junkies Christina Torri and Renee Achterhof debate the pros and cons of ad previews:

Q: Did you watch any ad previews or did you wait until the big game?

Christina: Yep. I couldn’t resist…

Renee: NO! I wanted to be surprised!

Q: Many of the commercials had been “leaked” online prior to airing during the Super Bowl. Do you like the idea?

Christina: Yes, I think it’s a excellent idea for brands to leak some of their ads ahead of the big game. It helps to generate buzz before the game and provide additional exposure for the ad, especially when extended versions or online only exclusives are offered. I think this strategy gives advertisers the opportunity to gain more “bang-for-their-buck,” especially with the pricey Super Bowl ads.

Renee: I’m really not a fan. Although it may help with buzz and exposure, it takes away from the exclusivity and excitement of airing for the first time during the Super Bowl itself. I avoided watching them online prior to airing for that very reason – I wanted to have a reaction when they actually aired, not have prior knowledge of what to expect.

Q: Do you think there are tactics or strategies for these sneak peeks?

Christina: Of course. Many companies launched Twitter campaigns ahead of time, sponsoring hashtags and promoting accounts. Plus, they utilized other social networks like YouTube and Pinterest to promote the preview, which clearly shows a strategic effort across paid, earned and owned media properties. Beyond online activity, mainstream media shows like the Today Show covered the ad previews in the week leading up to the game, which likely resulted from a strong PR push to generate awareness.

Renee: They definitely helped brands gain buzz, but beyond that, I’m not sure there was much benefit to the strategy. I think Kia had a great tactic by “teasing” audiences with a small blurb of its ad (who didn’t see that commercial ahead of time?). Although the ad itself was somewhat of a disappointment once aired, had it been a hit, they would have nailed the strategy of leaking before airing.

Q: Will previews to the commercials affect the brands financially?

Christina: The brand has already committed to producing and purchasing the spot, so releasing it prior to the game doesn’t directly impact them financially. However, many brands ran promotional campaigns on social media and across the digital space to generate additional buzz, which was likely supported by a strategic media buy. With 3.5 million for 30 seconds and likely millions to produce the spot, these brands will likely see an increase in the overall ROI for the ad spot as a result of the buzz from previewing the ads before the game.

Renee: It’s no doubt that brands are getting the most bang-for-the-buck by showing ads prior to the Super Bowl. But it brings me back to the exclusivity factor: why are they paying millions for an ad that audiences can see before the Super Bowl? They could just have easily purchased an air spot for an affordable price tag during the week before the big game.Q: Do you think this trend will continue next year?

Christina: YES! Next year, I anticipate seeing even more social integration, especially with emerging social platforms like Get Glue. There will always be ads that are held until the big game, but building hype by previewing the ads ahead of time is a great strategy for big brands looking to maximize social buzz and ROI on these spots.

Renee: I’m sure it will continue, but I think brands that don’t follow the trend will be smart. In my opinion, a “teaser” would be more appropriate.

Our MINDSCAPErs have debated – now it’s time for you to weigh in. What do you think of brands offering previews of their Super Bowl ads?

Take a look at the 10 best Super Bowl ads.