Super Bowl Is Good Road Map For Upfront Buys

It’s almost that time of year again – time for television upfronts. As viewers continue to shift more of their time to Web and mobile, the TV ad-buying season gets a bit more complicated.

Media buyers know how challenging it can be to accurately allocate budget to TV vs. online video and other emerging channels. While there is no universally agreed way to determine exact allocation budgets, there is a “crystal ball” media buyers can use to determine where to spend their dollars this year: the Super Bowl.

New audience data from the Super Bowl 2012 shows some surprising audience trends that can help brands decide where to spend their video ad dollars this upfront season. In other words, the Super Bowl is arguably the biggest television event of the year, making it the perfect “upfront lab.”

According to recent data collected by Rocket Fuel, via an in-banner questionnaire a day after the Super Bowl across the U.S. online population, the Super Bowl has become a multi-device viewing experience.



People are no longer just turning on the TV, plunking down on the couch with a huge tray of nachos, and watching the game from start to finish. The shift toward multi-device viewing has big implications for media buyers accustomed to allocating a fixed amount of spend to network and cable commercials.

From our research, 17% of Super Bowl viewers surveyed said they used more than one media device to follow the game. Of those multi-device users, 61% used a TV and a computer, while 18% used three devices: a TV, computer, and a smartphone/tablet.

Women were also slightly more likely than men to follow the Super Bowl using a smartphone/tablet or the radio vs. men who were more likely to follow the game on a television or computer.

What does all this mean in light of upcoming upfronts season?

For one, TV viewership is more fractured than ever, and media buys need to reflect this. A big commercial buy during a new season of a popular show may still be worth it to acquire prime-time eyeballs, but it will be worth exponentially more if the brand also buys digital, addressable advertising to capture brand share on multiple devices. 

Of course, paid advertising is no longer the endgame in and of itself. Consumers also expect viral video, social contests, Facebook pages, live Twitter updates, and brand currency through other earned or owned content assets. Brand can’t just buy television and digital media, they must create and distribute associated earned media content around each campaign, too.

That necessarily means a weight shift from heavy TV to multiscreen marketing, a trend that should accelerate in the near future.

The Super Bowl is a harbinger of how consumers are shifting their TV viewing habits -- a sort of ‘future lab’ for media -- and brands that embrace a multi-device media-buying strategy now will be ahead of the pack.

Whether someone’s a fan of the Super Bowl – or Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, or “Gossip Girl,”  they will increasingly turn to their smartphones, social networks and video-sharing sites to engage with their favorite TV programs and other fans. Brands need to be “everywhere at once” -- because consumers already are.

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