3 Digital Strategies To Win The Super Bowl, With Any Marketing Budget

I love the Super Bowl. It's the best day to go skiing ...

For marketers, the Super Bowl is the great equalizer, providing common context for the entire marketing community. It enables us to tweet about the lights going out and everybody gets it ... and then we’re tortured by the lore of said tweet for eternity.

When I was "volun-told" to pull together my tips for digitally winning the Super Bowl, I aspired to avoid rehashing the same old swill, the same worn-out case studies and tactics. Tactics are easy. But tactics — like letting fans vote on which spots run, real-time newsrooms, and second-screen content marketing —  are instantaneously obsolete, and ultimately, a me-too race to the bottom. Tactics will come and go, but marketing fundamentals and human truths will stand the test of time.

As a rule, Super Bowl broadcast spots are intended to entertain and provoke anybody with eyeballs, at a cost of upwards of $4 million a pop. But with the rise of digital, all brands can now have a seat at the table, skipping the broadcast investment to create highly personal highly relevant content on the cheap. 



To win digitally, here are the key strategies:

Your Strategy is Like a Party – It’s All About the Right People

Inviting the right people to the party means fewer awkward conversations. Identifying, prioritizing and sizing an audience is critical to success, albeit difficult. It requires cobbled-together data, and a series of reasonable assumptions.  

Some brands are hyper focused on solving this conundrum (McDonald’s, Campbell, etc.).  They have evolved their advanced-audience targeting to be more focused on natural-language-search technology and predictive analytics to cost-effectively target their audiences.

This technique allows brands to identify specific people based on their behaviors and audiences. Said differently, they can identify individuals by what they say and do, and then prioritize them by whom they influence (i.e., audience size and quality). By acting thoughtfully and setting the right parameters, brands can pre-qualify the people most likely to engage and participate with them, thereby ensuring a party with fewer duds.

Coffee is for Closers

Typically, “leads” is a dirty word inside creative agencies. However, as digital/mobile/social media continues to influence what happens at the shelf, and while e-comm continues explosive growth, direct marketing strategies and “leads” are becoming a key focus.  

As an antidote to using natural language search and predictive analytics, some brands (Nissan, Universal Pictures, NBA, etc.) are seeing results by chasing after warm leads. They are leveraging discovery-based technology to identify engaged Twitter/Facebook users and driving sales and trials through direct messaging strategies. This approach bundles technology, social listening and old-school call centers into a single offering. Identifying and vetting individuals for relevance, programmatically engaging the target in a scripted “dialogue,” and gleaning real-time insights while closing leads. This approach further ensures brands can have the right conversations, at the right time, and more importantly, at scale.

Epiphany in the Nicaraguan Jungle 

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in technology stacks, audience analytics, and performance benchmarks, and forget that social media is relatively simple at its core. It enables people to portray a curated version of their life for the world to see. Each and every post fits into a tapestry along the "bragging continuum," some closer to the humble brag end of the spectrum than others.  

I recently encountered a group of guides in the Nicaraguan jungle who understood this principle better than many Fortune 500 companies. On a trip to our office in Managua, we visited an eco-adventure park. The guides implicitly understood that the best way to promote their park was to take amazing videos and photos of people. They knew a video of people hurling down a zip line will get posted to social, and that gesture will give them infinitely more value than requesting guests to “like” them. It’s not that complicated; people want to brag and these Nicaraguan guides were happy to give them the tools to do so.

This year’s Super Bowl promises to be full of new and interesting tactics, and a lot of old tactics reheated and reformulated. I look forward to dissecting them, après ski.

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