Simply put, the Super Bowl is the last bastion of appointment viewing in the United States: event television that amasses a large audience at a single time. We used to have the Grammys, but lots of people watch that on delay through their DVR. We used to have the Oscars, but not a lot of people watch that anymore. The Super Bowl is the pinnacle of all things television!
But what is television? That’s a larger question because it’s clear we’re seeing the definition change. Television is a term now used to describe programmed video on any platform. Television content can be viewed on your phone, through any host of set-top boxes, on tablets and phablets and just about any device with a screen. What we’re seeing is the fulfillment of a promise made in the early 2000s: that television would morph and evolve. It’s clear that it has.
The Super Bowl is a worldwide stage for gathering an audience, a platform for advertisers to blow out new messaging and have a massive impact. What comparable digital platforms exist?
I personally don’t see any other appointment viewing opportunities, but I see a whole new wave of mass viewing that takes place on Twitter and Facebook. When there are world events or newsworthy items, these two platforms offer a community of conversation that can rival, on reach, what we see with the Super Bowl. For advertisers, reach is important. The demographic make-up of the Super Bowl trumps any specific demo, but Twitter and Facebook can provide a more targeted audience, at least behaviorally if not demographically. If your objective is reach or targeting, these two avenues provide different ways of achieving your objectives.
So what about the Super Bowl, specifically? Are we seeing new and interesting ways for this prime-time extravaganza to become even more relevant through the use of supplementary platforms like Twitter and Facebook?
I think the answer is yes. During the NFC Championship game, I was on a plane and unable to watch the Seahawks and the 49ers. I was able to watch a Gamecast from ESPN, while the guy next to me was following Twitter to see real-time commentary on the game.
If the NFL is smart, its strategists going to find ways to continue to exploit the real-time commentary that runs parallel to the event itself. Marketers should do so as well! Not everyone can afford a Super Bowl spot, but those who do need to use social media as an extension of what they paid for, to gauge consumer response to the expensive spots they placed. For marketers who don’t buy a spot, there’s still a chance to generate high reach if they can harness the audience engaged in this annual event.
So when you watch the game this weekend, and you root for the Broncos (of course), be sure to pay a keen eye to what’s going on in social media. Understand that Twitter and Facebook provide you with as much reach and impact as a Super Bowl spot, if you can tap into them in the correct manner.