Super Bowl Unboxed: How The Second Screen Could Save The $4M Ad

Is the most expensive ad on TV asking too much of an audience with chronic ADD?Does anyone other than agency execs and journalists pay attention?

The Super Bowl commercial has always been an advertisers’ Hail Mary. Where else in this world of fragmented media can they access a captive audience of over 100 million spanning virtually every demographic?

Broad audience reach is why the average price of 30-second spot this year went for a cool $4 million.

Yet despite the high price tag and rapid sell-out rate, Ad Age recently reported that 80% of ads that air during the Super Bowl don't sell anything. Most people couldn’t recall any of the commercials (56%), and among the ones that did, only 35% could recall the brand.

Clearly, advertisers are going to tap into the immense reach of the Super Bowl ad for a long time to come, despite these numbers. The question is: how can marketers reinforce the messages of these big, bold and beautifully crafted commercials?



Follow the eyeballs — to the second screen.

Mobile devices have pulled attention away from the big screen and down into the palms and laps of the consumer. 87% of U.S. entertainment consumers say they use at least one second-screen device while watching television.

In a game where the ball is in play for only 11 minutes during the entire three hours, expecting an increasingly impatient audience to sit tight during timeouts, injuries, and blackouts is just silly.

It’s unavoidable. iPhones, Androids and tablets will dominate the Super Bowl. People are going to Tweet, Post, Snap, Pin, and — perhaps more than anything — they will open email.

That’s right. While the second screen may dominate the Super Bowl, the second screen is dominated by email — with a whopping 60% of mobile device owners checking their email while watching TV. Doing the math, hat means over 60 million people will be checking their email during the Super Bowl.

Given that email is 40x more effective at customer acquisition than both Facebook and Twitter combined, prompting purchase rates 3x that of social media with a 17% higher average order value, this is an immense opportunity for advertisers.

Imagine if Oreo had sent a “Dunk in the Dark” email during last year’s blackout.

Granted, brands can’t rely on customers to open every email they send. Even on a good day, most email campaigns will only get a 20% open rate. But with 91% all consumers using email daily and 50% of unique opens happening on mobile devices, they can count on everyone opening something somewhere. And with new technology finally making it possible to serve real-time ads within third-party newsletters, advertisers can now reach their audience with highly targeted ads whenever and wherever they open. 

Catch the mom that thinks being in the red zone is a bad thing when she opens an email newsletter from Ladies Home Journal. Surprise the husband that is reading a NFL newsletter with an ad reminding him that Valentine’s Day is on the horizon.

This is how you bring your brand to the forefront – capture their attention with a second-screen play, then go for the glory with a television ad touchdown. Coordinate your advertising efforts, sending complimentary campaigns through channels like email (where you know they’ll be looking) that reinforce the TV ad.

This is where some, if not all, of those $4 million needs to be spent. Forget putting all your eggs in the big screen basket. Diversify your ad-spend playbook. Find new ways to dominate the small screen and capture ‘Tune-In.’ Make ads immediate and impactful to individuals as their attention strays from the big screen to the inbox, right when they open.  

The brand that is willing to go long, to invest in new technology that will entice fans and non-fans during the most-watched event of the year, is going to be the brand that wins big.

4 comments about "Super Bowl Unboxed: How The Second Screen Could Save The $4M Ad".
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  1. Ken Karnes from OMO, January 28, 2014 at 8:22 a.m.

    Nice post, Matt. I'll also be interested to see which brands/retailers execute an omni-channel approach.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, January 28, 2014 at 8:41 a.m.

    This is so idiotic. Second screens are the reason we're distracted in the first place. They're the problem, not the solution.

  3. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, January 28, 2014 at 11:18 a.m.

    I totally agree Mike E...If you "spend some or all of the $4 million" on second screens, email etc, then you can't get the Superbowl ad... which by the way, less and less people watch or even care about anymore as most of the ads are so over hyped to begin with.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, January 28, 2014 at 4:41 p.m.

    Methinks that "87% of U.S. entertainment consumers say they use at least one second-screen device while watching television" is actually that 87% of US entertainment consumers have answered that they have EVER used a second-screen device while watching television". As an advertiser I am interested in what they usually do every day, and not what they have ever done. What a difference a single word can make.

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