Shouldn’t Mark Zuckerberg Just Set His Super Bowl Ad Money on Fire?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

It’s well known that Meta (a.k.a. Facebook/a.k.a. Instagram) is getting its ads kicked by TikTok and even Snapchat nowadays. So what is Mark (Data) Suckerberg doing about it?

Running a Super Bowl ad.

As Todd Wasserman reports at MediaPost, Meta’s big game ad will follow a fourth-quarter earnings report that included the company’s first-ever quarterly decline in daily active users.

Meta’s Super Bowl teaser, via Anomaly, features a shot of a virtual hangout called Questy’s. Questy’s looks a little worn, as the ad shows the restaurant at night, when it’s empty and dark (except for a flickering neon sign).

The ad is a direct reference to the Oculus Quest 2 headset, which Meta released last fall. Questy’s is actually a virtual hangout in Oculus that is a portal to games and other activities.

The music in the ad is a callback to TV themes of the 1980s that advance a good-timey virtual reality experience and a sign that Meta wants to leave behind the Internet and social media and instead usher users into a virtual world.

Empty restaurant? TV theme music of the 1980s? That’s what Zuck brings in the wake of last week’s knee-buckling 26% plunge in Meta’s share price, which vaporized $237 billion in market value?

Is this just wish-casting, Doc? Or what?

– MetAverse

Dear MetAverse,

For starters, here’s the teaser ad in question.

A 60-second version of the ad is scheduled to run in the first quarter of the Super Bowl at a cost of roughly $13 million, which is, of course, lunch money to Zuckerberg.

Problem is, he’s getting his lunch eaten by TikTok, as the Wall Street Journal’s Salvador Rodriguez reported yesterday.

Meta Faces Uphill Battle Against TikTok

Amid a dismal earnings report, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. on Wednesday highlighted its short-video product Reels as a bright spot and perhaps its best bet to kick-start flagging growth.

The challenge is that in the increasingly important fight for video dominance, Meta faces a heavyweight rival that is only getting stronger.

While Meta executives said Reels is now the company’s fastest-growing content format, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok is growing even faster. It was the most-downloaded app of 2021, and overtook Meta’s Instagram in popularity among coveted young users.

That makes a switch to Reels and away from TikTok a tough sell for a lot of advertisers and creators.

Especially when you consider these numbers in the WSJ piece: “In 2021, TikTok reached 63% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 weekly, up from 50% a year prior, according to a November survey by Forrester. Instagram, meanwhile, declined from 61% in 2020 to 57% in 2021. Other industry data shows similar trends.”

So, to conclude: How many Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 do you think will be riveted to a TV screen for next Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast?

Yeah, us too.

Not to be repetitive, but memo to Zuck: You should have just set that $13 million on fire.

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