Commentary

Why Mobile Advertisers Need a New Play For the Super Bowl

Mobile and the Super Bowl? A perfect combo, but hardly breaking news. Last year, 114.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the Patriots and Seahawks per minute and at least one eMarketer reported that half of those viewers had their phones at-the-ready.

Even if you weren’t paying attention to those reports, that multiple ads promoted mobile games offered irrefutable evidence that mobile devices are now as integral to the big game as your neighbor’s seven-layer nacho dip.

Yet, despite the fact that football fans have already mastered tapping their device while eating hot wings, the smaller screen is still second dog when it comes to capturing the hearts and eyeballs of Super Bowl audiences.

The burning question, then, is: Can this year be different for mobile advertising? The answer? It has to be.

Mobile users expect more

It’s no secret that the recent surge of ad blockers has presented an industry challenge. While largely a mobile Web site issue (versus apps), the message from users is loud and clear: Mobile advertising needs to be better.

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That’s what makes the 2016 Super Bowl so important for mobile. It’s a time when friends and family gather together to talk touchdowns and taglines--a tremendous opportunity to reframe the conversation around mobile ads. But the experience of mobile advertising can’t be improved with the same old approach.

How we can do better

Many notable innovations have helped improve mobile ad execution and engagement in recent years. What’s been out of balance, however, is the consideration given to what is arguably the most important variable in the advertising equation: the user’s mind-set.

Look at it this way: A user could be doing any number of things on a mobile device, in any number of locations, with a broad range of urgency.  Without consideration for these variables, advertisers risk delivering ads at the less than optimal moments, dragging down campaign ROI. They’re also undermining the long-term opportunity, in that understanding mobile users’ propensity to engage in a given moment offers a critical advantage for future campaigns.

This awareness has brought mobile moments mainstream, with brands and agencies increasingly exploring how understanding a user’s mind-set can drive greater value from advertising. That insight can help advertisers gauge when to best engage audiences and with what creative, or it might reveal that it’s just not a good time for an ad. This more discriminating approach to mobile advertising provides an answer to what mobile users have been asking for.

The Super Bowl opportunity

Then how can mobile moments play specifically into the Super Bowl, an event that has already established itself as a “moment” for advertising?

There are a number of ways. For one, advertisers can use mobile data signals to identify and target ads that better serve moments throughout game day--think shopping, party prep, traveling and so on. Location and event data can be combined with the broader set of mobile data so the advertiser can understand--and respond to--the user’s mind-set as it evolves during the game.

For example, are they celebrating a team victory? A tie-breaking touchdown? These and other triggers, including factors like weather conditions or even cross-platform mobile ads that sync with TV, make it possible to deliver messages that more meaningfully align with a given moment and, ultimately, deepen engagement.

But the opportunity isn’t limited to game day.

Advertisers targeting die-hard fans can use mobile moments to identify users that attended previous NFL games, or even college football, extending the impact of their campaign. And insights such as what moments and triggers drive the best performance can inform and optimize future campaigns. It’s a long-term strategy to increase mobile effectiveness.

Advertisers actually don’t need to wait for the Super Bowl to demonstrate the ability to be more attuned to the needs and experience of audiences; this is already happening. But when the big game arrives, and an unprecedented number of eyeballs are jumping from big to small screen, those that take advantage of the new move in their mobile playbook have the opportunity to score big for their campaign--as well as the broader perception of mobile ads.
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