The following is a guest post by Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer for Hipcricket.
Every year in the beginning of February, football fans tune in to watch THE game of the year. Even if you aren’t a football fan, there is something to be said about the excitement, the hype, the food and drink, and obviously, the commercials. Marketing aficionados tune in with a microscope for the next big trend, the most impressive call-to-action and to spot the brands that have their finger on the pulse of advertising strategies that compel brand loyalty, increase sales and positively impact overall buzz.
Marketers who are paying the big bucks for such primetime real estate spots cannot afford to drop the proverbial ball when it comes to making sure that the ad pays for itself and brings in additional revenue. It is one of the only times that viewers actually look forward to watching a commercial. However, the buzz that a Super Bowl ad procures does not necessarily equal success. Even if every person in America is cooing over the adorable puppy in sneakers, it is very possible, and probable, that buzz will die off as quickly as the hangover the Monday morning after.
How can marketers extend that buzz? How can they continue to engage well after the game? In this age of mobile and social strategies, we are starting to see companies embrace longer tail engagement. Leading up to the big game, it seemed like marketers got the hint – viewers are going to be more tuned in than ever. In fact, a survey from Harris Interactive showed that 60 percent of mobile users planned to look at or use their phones or tablets during the game. They watched on TVs, they watched on tablets, they watched on their smartphones, checking Twitter and Facebook for real-time updates and sharing with their networks.
Ahead of the game, marketers were reporting that more than half the ads would be able to be recognized by “Shazam”. In reality, there were about a dozen spots leveraging this app – which only captures users who have Shazam downloaded and open, and those who are not too distracted by everything else going on to see the small Shazam icon in the ad. While this isn’t the most ideal situation (really though, an audio recognition app in a noisy bar?), it was still promising for us marketing folk who are eager for the stage to be set for a year of ads packed with mobile elements.
Well, it definitely wasn’t overflowing, but there were more calls-to-action, which is promising for future Super Bowl commercial lineups.
Audi furthered the trend of Twitter hashtags during the 2011 Super Bowl, but did not evolve its strategy in this year’s ad (#solongvampires was pretty funny, though). A few other brands drove viewers to their Facebook pages, but both of these tactics have their flaws. Even if a consumer is a fan or a follower, it still only guarantees a one-way channel of communication, whereas mobile calls-to-action would initiate a two-way interaction, a possible opt-in, and a potential or repeat customer who chooses to communicate with a brand again and again.
The NFL made an effort with funny ads that prompted viewers with an SMS-based call-to-action for high value prizes.
Unfortunately, many (including me) who texted didn’t hear back from the NFL until they awoke to a reply on their phone, received at some point in the middle of the night (my message back took 5 ½ hours). Rule number one NFL: if you convince consumers to engage with you and provide their mobile phone number, you need to reply in a timely manner. Instant gratification is not an option; it is a must.
GoDaddy decided to go with a QR code, seeking to tempt viewers to check in to their site to watch a series of racier ads that didn’t make the final cut. Similar to Shazam users, GoDaddymissed the less savvy and easily distracted viewers, who were not able to fire up their QR scanner in time to capture the image on screen.
For New England fans, there were a slew of missed opportunities, especially if you counted the TV spots. There’s always next year for Patriots’ fans and marketing professionals.
About the author
Jeff Hasen is chief marketing officer for Hipcricket in Kirkland, WA. One of the most frequently quoted voices in mobile and social media, Jeff is the author of the upcoming book, Mobilized Marketing: Driving Sales, Engagement and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices, due in Spring 2012 from Wiley Publishing. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.