Back in the Dark Ages, you actually had to watch the Super Bowl to see Super Bowl commercials. Not anymore.
Increasingly, advertisers are releasing their ads to the public well before the big game.
They're hoping to go viral, boosting the number of eyeballs that see their message and the frequency with which the sales pitch is absorbed.
And there are side benefits to having a popular video clip, according to Jeff Malone, a Houston-area advertising agency owner.
"Those things send signals to Google saying, ‘Hey, this is valuable content,'" explained Malone, who runs the Malone Media Group. "So if it's posted on that client's website, then all of a sudden that starts boosting their organic rankings." Meaning the advertiser's webpage shows up closer to the top, in a Google search.
Research from YouTube indicates that ads posted a week before the Super Bowl get 600 percent more views than those that debuted during the big game.
"And so what you find is that advertisers are trying to get their ads out there earlier and earlier," said Malone, "so they can increase the residual value of that commercial."
Boosting value is critical, he explains, because the initial investment is so high. This year, Super Bowl ad time is selling for up to $4 million for a 30-second spot.