Watching Super Bowl 50 With Flashtalking's Real-Time Ad Tool

What's it like to update ads in real time during an event? The New York-based ad-serving platform Flashtalking gave me a demo during the Super Bowl.

Here was the plan: Flashtalking's partner Accordant would run an ad campaign targeting programmatic marketing professionals in the top 10 DMAs (designated marketing areas), plus Charlotte, N.C. and Denver. The ad flight would start just before the game and end right after, and I would update ad copy as I watched the game.

Andy McNeil, tech specialist, Flashtalking, gave me a little background on the tool. It's usually used in two ways: as a fast feed (like yesterday) and, more frequently, in a slightly slower way that takes five to 10 minutes to update a video, text or other elements.

Flashtalking works with a lot of agencies, teaching their teams how to use the tool so they can update their ads themselves, McNeil said. He touted its ease of updating and the need to only build something once. A client could build something for the NFL, and that same ad could be used for the MLB without having to to hire a developer and designer all over again. Additionally, targeting can be as broad or granular as a client wants. 

Here's a rough account of the evening, which I spent at Union Grounds in Brooklyn with McNeil and Kendall Allen of WIT Strategy.

6:52 p.m.: I wrote the first ad in response to the Lil Wayne and Jeff Goldblum commercial for The bar was noisy so I couldn't hear the dialogue/understand what was going on. In any case, everyone roared in response to Tha Carter/Lil Tunechi's appearance, so I commented on that.

7:00 p.m.: I think I'm getting the hang of this. I realized I have to change all three lines of copy--something I neglected in the previous ad. Whoops.

7:15 p.m.: I wrote an ad about an Audi spot, which uses David Bowie's "Starman." In the ad, I remarked that the brand seems to be the first of the night to use a Bowie song or make a Bowie tribute. McNeil tells me the British staff at Flashtalking (about five people out of a staff of 45) love the New York Jets. They might not keep up with the ads, he said, but they love the American-ness of the game.

7:20 p.m.: An ad for Advil airs. The crowd continues its chatter--they don't seem impressed. I tweet the sentiment. On Twitter, someone responds, "y'all are WAY to attached to advertising if you didn't get and didn't appreciate the Advil spot. Get over it." 

7:38 p.m.: Writing three pithy lines a minute is tough. My respect for agency war rooms is renewed. Around this time, I remember that I'm supposed to be using #MPSB50, MediaPost's tag for the game.

7:45 p.m.: The group talks about a raffle. The winner got a game of Cornhole. Though I am from the Midwest, one of the most football-loving states in the country, I have to ask McNeil, "What's Cornhole?" He politely explains.

8:00 p.m.: McNeil tells me he recommends using hashtags at the end of the copy and to keep in mind that there's a short time to get people's attention. 

8:15 p.m.: Flashtalking offers a panel for brands using Twitter, McNeil tells me, so they can view tweets based on things like usernames or hashtags. Brands can choose to push something out or not.

8:30 p.m.: The half-time show commences. Chris Martin sings beside child violinists. Bruno Mars wears leather separates. Beyoncé emerges on the field, and the bar goes crazy. This is probably the most emotional moment of the night. 

9:00 p.m.: The raffle winner is announced. I am NOT the proud new owner of Cornhole. After finishing my beer, I decide to call it a night so I could write this post. I ask McNeil to review my real-time ad writing. "I think you did great," he said. "You used the tool for live commentary, and that's the whole point."

Flashtalking began in the U.K., and has offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, L.A. and global locations, too.

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