Apparently I am not alone in my disappointment over mobile marketing's showing in Sunday's Super Bowl. Let me just refer back to some comments readers appended to last week's column.
I would like to get more of your reactions to this year's tepid, predictable effort (not that I am leading the tone of the discussions, mind you) below and perhaps explore what the next steps should be for mobile-leveraging the big event. I have my own thoughts, as you will see.
Indeed, there were more short-code integrations with Super Bowl ads this year. I will defer to the superb video summary Kim Dushinski put together at her book promotion site MobileMarketingProfits.com. It really is a marvelous overview, with great tips for marketers about how to make their mobile effort a bit more visible.
Quick hint: running the short code for a second in small type at the tail end of a Super Bowl spot barely qualifies as a mobile program. Do marketers really expect people to be sitting there with their handsets at the ready to dial in? I enlisted the younger brain matter of my family to recall the codes as they whizzed by. My daughter and fiancée love this exercise, of course, because it underscores the how much grayer my matter is than theirs. In our house we call this an "insult opportunity."
I agree with Kim's assessment that Monster.com's short code call-out was the best. It sent back a WAP push formatted for the phone. Better still, the promotion itself had an NFL theme. I was disappointed that the next call to action from Monster (to search for jobs) just kicked me into their standard site. I was hoping for a deeper, made-for-mobile, follow-through experience. The Cars.com Super Bowl spot, which actually featured a character using the mobile version of the service, has excellent mobile follow-through because the site itself is very good. And yet, another Super Bowl promotion (off air, I believe) for Johnsonville Sausages sent me an SMS reply that referred me to the company's standard Web site. Huh?
HipCricket's Jeff Hasen argues for more foreshadowing of the promotions to help alleviate the drive-by, after-thought feel of the fleeting integration on screen. But he also suggests NBC might have done more with the Springsteen material. Why not some calls to action, free ticket offers, etc.
Actually, my biggest disappointment was the general absence of the third screen being used as, well, a third screen. Aren't there endless opportunities for content providers to run parallel, complementary material? Think of all the non-NBC broadcasters and sportswriters who could have tunneled into our consciousness with mobile commentary, images, etc.
One sport brand apparently learned a valuable lesson during last season about the potency of that third screen during a sports event. According to reports, on at least one Sunday last year ESPN.com's mobile NFL page was receiving more traffic than its corresponding Web section. As users are discovering that mobile is their always-on Internet, they are using it as parallel programming. Who was exploiting this? Thankfully, at least ESPN tried it. The company ran a real-time blog of short commentary, as well as images, at its mobile site. Alas, the still images of key plays, which would have been so potent, were broken on the two phone browsers I tried. But extra points for effort here.
But where are the mobile Super Bowl parties via SMS? Shouldn't a colorful sports personality or former Super Bowler himself send text alerts to subscribers as he responds in real time to the game? The recipients could send messages in return that might get posted to a Web site or WAP site. This mobile party model is applicable to just about any TV event or show. This sort of events-based live blog or chat used to be more visible online a few years ago, but I don't see as much of it lately. The idea seems perfect for mobile, the always-there Internet.
Imagine the content possibilities here. Different party hosts could offer an endless selection of takes on a mass media event. Sports know-nothings like me could subscribe to snide comments from a fellow-traveler. True-believers would subscribe to a voice that is more respectful. The mobile event model would let different audiences come at the event from their own perspectives. The model leverages mobile media in the way it works naturally. How often do people sit on the phone and share a media experience with one another? Mobile content should try to capture that conversational structure and use mobile to add another person to the room of TV viewers.
At any rate, you get the point. We need to find better ways of making the third screen live up to its own name.