Mobile media mavens were on high alert during this year’s Super Bowl, as this was the year when everyone in marketing became acutely aware of the role devices now play in “second screen” experiences in the living room. How did the advertisers respond to the knowledge that a majority of viewers likely had their phones or tablets ready to activate the right on-air message?
Twitter may have been the biggest winner this year. Hashtags were everywhere, and all of the app-based second-screen experiences relied on Twitter to pull in live discussions. Many advertisers used promoted tweets that showed up atop relevant hashtags during the game.
Thom Kennon, SVP, director of strategy for Y&R, said during the game: “good use of Promoted Tweets. Dannon pushes a tweet minutes before kickoff capturing maximum attention before the onslaught of in-game spots. Extra credit – when I shouted this out in a tweet, they faved my tweet. That’s how it’s done.” Other hashtags seen in the game include an Audi callout to the vampire trend #SoLongVampires, Bud Light Platinum at #MakeItPlatinum and #BetterWay from Best Buy.
H&M’s provocative spot featuring David Beckham in tightie whities drove a massive outpouring of female admirers to its advertised hashtag #beckhamforhm. This had to be one of the slyest callouts to the non-male audience we have seen at a Super Bowl.
Short-code callouts were few, as many marketers seemed to understand that it is difficult for the fleeting mention of a six-digit number and keyword to register with viewers. Yet a spot advertising the NFL Fantasy game and a $1 million sweepstakes entry had a persistent call to action on screen: send “NFL” to 69635. Unfortunately, as several mobile executives noted, NFL did not respond quickly in acknowledging the entry. In fact, it took hours for our entry to get a 2 a.m reply. Likewise for Jeff Hasen, CMO of Hipcricket, who told us: “That's unforgivable when viewers are looking for instant gratification.”
In our spot check among mobile marketing execs paying close attention to the use of the platform this year, most were underwhelmed. Annual mobile Bowl-watcher Hasen says that while marketers didn’t ignore mobile this year, as they have in the past, the execution was uncertain. Audio ID app Shazam allows users to tag about half of the Super Bowl ads, but Hasen says “how many knew enough to use Shazam remains a question. With about half the ads including the Shazam prompt, no one spot stood out for including it.” He concludes that despite the hashtags and second-screen schemes, “my takeaway is one of anticipointment.”
Similarly, Dan Israel, strategy lead, mobile practice, SapientNitro, says he was “underwhelmed” by the use of mobile. With too few Twitter handles, few shortcode calls to action and little promotion of branded apps, he says: “Dishing out #3.5 million, I would expect a marketer to at least show ‘download our app’ at the end, if not during the whole commercial. With the largest number of smartphone customers amassed at one time, you’d think someone would leverage it. Very disappointing.”
Israel’s colleague at SapientNitro, VP David Hewitt, saw the mobile glass more half full, emphasizing the ambitions of second-screen apps over on-air callouts. “Overall I thought it was a good soft start for integrating mobile into more broad-based audience and second screen experiences,” he says. “We saw audio fingerprinting from Shazam, exclusive content from Madonna unlocked, interactive polling, and basic dashboard info presented alongside of the game.”
Hewitt feels that it is the synchronization across screens that hold special promise. “Once consumers actually interact content on second screen that is proactively synced with the big screen, a whole new world of interactive television, and advertising, opens up,” he says.
But there is something to be said as well for the grand tradition of counter-programming, now enabled by mobile means. Alex Campbell, co-founder of mobile agency Vibes, says that the best Super Bowl promo not only came over his phone but was a counterpoint to on-air advertising. He tells us: “Best use of mobile so far? Obama! I just got this message: ‘The commercials aren't that good this year anyway: take a break from watching the big game to support Team Obama-Biden. http://txt.bo/24/k29lj.’ Such an awesome way to cut through all the really expensive TV advertising to get your message out.”