Spoiler alert: Digital media has drastically changed how companies take advantage of media events to promote their brands through advertising. (That is, spoiler alert if you’ve been living under a digital rock for the past five or so years!)
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As two teams gear up for the final showdown of the NFL season – Super Bowl XLVII – fans across the country are making predictions about their teams and pulling out their favorite chip-and-dip combos to watch the final game with much anticipation and enthusiasm. With such a captive audience, advertising strategies from past sporting events offer precedent for many digital events to come, both for their successes and failures (such as the NBC Olympics delays). Today’s consumers want to engage with brands beyond traditional advertising, and companies realize this growing trend and hope to connect with their customers on a variety of device types and through various channels. Last year, a surprising 24.5 percent of brands that advertised surprisingly did not drive any digital channels – no URLs, hashtags, QR Codes, just the brand name. This year, we expect that number to be much lower.
The Super Bowl is the high point of the football season and traditionally the most popular time for advertising. Technologies such as Big Data, location-based marketing and HD mobile video have made Super Bowl ads much more interesting, and enabled marketers to connect with their audiences on a whole new level. Below are technology trends this season that are helping brands connect with NFL fans across the country.
- Socialization of the Super Bowl: Last year, 11 percent of Super Bowl ads utilized emerging media such as Shazam and QR Codes, and 16% included social media call to actions. Only 5.7 percent (four ads) used Twitter hashtags though, and we’ll see this rise dramatically this year. That’s because those four who did use hashtags instantly saw consumers using the hashtag to Tweet about the commercial, creating a great amount of social buzz and therefore, brand value. In fact, Audi’s #SoLongVampires and Bud Light’s #MAKEITPLATINUM hashtags not only drove Twitter conversation, but resulted in related Internet searches. Brands are also leveraging traditional advertising to drive users to their mobile apps and social networks. We’ve seen companies like Bud Light do this already and we’re sure to see much more of it during the Super Bowl. By placing calls to action on the big screen, you can drive consumer engagement on the second screen.
- Flexible and fast reactions: Reacting quickly to plays in the games can have a significant positive impact on an advertisement. Targeting a user on a hyper-timely topic before competing brands have a chance to react is critical. In this example from the Olympics, consumers were impressed with the commercial’s quick reaction to an event that happened only seconds prior. What’s more, the moment when Rebecca Soni won gold in the 200-meter breaststroke is now associated with the Samsung Galaxy. That’s powerful brand association. During the Super Bowl, campaigns need to be flexible to have more impact, and to do that, technology needs to be in place that allows for these rapid changes and dynamic optimization.
- Brands that aren’t prepared for traffic spikes will frustrate consumers with buffering issues. Engaging with consumers during major sporting events can produce favorable results for brands. It can also put strains on websites by quickly generating traffic spikes. Brands need to have the resources in place to accommodate the digital-minded consumer while reducing latency problems and downtime. Partnering with a third-party vendor can help to offload some of the strain and ensure quality content is delivered dynamically and uninterrupted.
- Real-time location will play a huge role. Brands are leveraging location-based campaigns more than ever. Mobile device users are accessing live content on their devices more and more, especially to stay current with their favorite sports teams when a TV might not be available. At a minimum, marketers need to serve ads relevant to consumers’ geographies with location-based offers, making sure a Ravens fan doesn’t see an ad for 49ers memorabilia on their mobile device. With advancements in technology and capabilities, it’s easier to drive more traffic to websites through mobile devices or the desktop. Brands can now more effectively target users and serve up content to any device.
- Relevant stories will make brands appear more real and uplifting. If you’re targeting consumers watching the NFL, you already know at least one thing they are interested in: football. Live sporting events offer unique opportunities for brands to make their ads more relevant by capitalizing on the content consumers are watching. Wouldn’t it make sense to air an ad with Peyton Manning during a Denver Broncos game, since you already know that it will pique the interest of most people watching? Sports media also offer a unique opportunity for brands to build on the excitement of a live event to connect with viewers’ everyday life. Ads will resonate well with consumers – and more importantly can inspire them if themes mirror the programming.
Social media, Big Data, mobile technology and the accessibility of online video have all contributed to the changing advertising landscape. As content is increasingly consumed anytime and anywhere, and as real-time ads become a marketing priority, we will see many traditional brands and newcomers begin to leverage more digital channels through online streaming or mobile device strategies.