Social Media and the Super Bowl: How Has Technology Changed Super Bowl Advertising?

The first order question remains as to whether to advertise in the Super Bowl, but a second order question now exists: what should a brand do around the Super Bowl?
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More so than ever before, technology has changed the way that advertisers are able to reach consumers. Whether it is Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or Twitter, the number of online and social engagement strategies of brands has increased at a startling rate. With the Super Bowl rapidly approaching, a natural question is how have such technological innovations changed Super Bowl Advertising?

Let us start with how technology has not changed Super Bowl advertising. A brand's actual televised spot is still the bread and butter. The Super Bowl remains the single largest reach vehicle with an audience of more than 100 million viewers. And, consumers arguably pay more attention to advertising during the Super Bowl than any other event. To win at the Super Bowl, like the players of the actual game itself, event brands need to do more than simply show up. Consumers are going to be more receptive to, and engaged with, the advertising, but they are going to reserve memory and subsequent discussion for the best of the best. Brands still need a sound strategy and a clever creative concept to make their spot stand out and be well received by consumers.

Now, what has technology changed? The development of various social media platforms introduces a new set of considerations for the Super Bowl advertiser. The first order question remains as to whether to advertise in the Super Bowl, but a second order question now exists: what should a brand do around the Super Bowl? With media costs averaging $4.5 million dollars for thirty seconds, brands now have to consider the potential to leverage social media platforms before, during and after the Super Bowl. These are tricky waters to navigate. Consider some of the strategic decisions a brand manager has to make at each phase around the Super Bowl.

Prior to the Super Bowl, brands have to decide how much to tease their Super Bowl appearance and execution. The advantage of such pre-release is that it has the potential to build momentum for the brand so that consumers are on the look out for it. Moreover, early release of the execution, or discussion of the brand's appearance, can translate to additional exposure to, and engagement with, consumers. Brands have to decide, however, what technology platforms are most relevant to their consumers. A danger exists in spending time and energy flooding irrelevant outlets. Brands also have to navigate building momentum in the interest of the audience without deflating the impact of the spot when it was aired. Sometimes it is brands that have done little teasing that are rewarded for the surprise factor of their execution, such as Google's "Parisian Love."

During the game, brands must consider how they can take advantage of consumers second and third screen viewing habits. Technology has changed how people consumer television. Consumers often have their smartphones and tablets handy, and they interact with these devices during the game and the commercials. The challenge is to find a way to meaningfully engage the consumer as opposed to being the brand that nobody wants to listen to. Tide demonstrated the power of such an approach when the power outage occurred during Super Bowl XLVII. When consumers were left with little onscreen entertainment, Tide commented on the event to engage consumers in a meaningful way.

Last, brands have to consider their strategy following the Super Bowl. If a campaign is well received, how will they sustain the momentum with additional online and traditional media efforts? If a campaign is not well received -- an all too common occurrence -- how will the brand manage damage control? Brands also have to consider long to invest in their Super Bowl concept before consumers fatigue from the execution. These are tough questions, to be sure.

Interestingly, being around the Super Bowl is not relevant only for those brands paying for the big ticket to air their advertising on the Super Bowl. For example, brands not advertising in the event itself have built campaigns around it in an effort to capture consumers' increased interest in advertising. A classic example of this is Old Spice's introduction of their spokesperson who greeted the audience with a, "Hello Ladies." People sometimes mistakenly remember this as a Super Bowl execution. It wasn't. However, the advertisement was pushed into online channels around the Super Bowl. As a consequence, both consumers and news media picked up on the spot as part of the Super Bowl wave.

The Super Bowl remains the stage for advertisers to share their best work. The rapid advance in online and social media platforms has created additional venues for brand's to flesh out their Super Bowl purchase. This has increased the challenge for marketers. It isn't enough to just develop a clever piece of advertising. To maximize the investment, brand leaders have to think through a range of opportunities and assess the value of committing additional resources and effort into these platforms before, during, and after the event.

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