Commentary

Mobile Bowl: The Pre-Game Show

There are two big shows on my calendar for the coming week. The first I know a great deal about and am thoroughly psyched to see. OMMA Mobile on Feb. 7 at the Marriott East Side is our very own gathering of the marketing mobilistas. And as an eleventh hour reminder, it not too late to seed the event with some of your own questions. Of course we will be doing Q&A after each panel, but I also have been asking my readers to pass along key questions and issues they would like to see addressed. Many of you have already obliged with some excellent suggestions that I am passing along to our moderators. But feel free to consult the agenda here (https://www.mediapost.com/ommamobile/index.cfm?ip=Agenda) and ping me at popeyesmith@comcast.net.

The other big show is one I hardly understand and barely tolerate. Some Super Bowl advertisers and marketing partners have had the foresight to promote their mobile tie-ins as they do their coming ad spots. But in most cases, we will be surprised by Super Bowl ads that prompt us to dial and short code in for more information. I will spend the day as I did last year, surrounded by three or four cell phones ready to test out as many of these little on-air bugs as I can to see if anything comes of them. But what do I know? Growing up a media and culture dweeb, my knowledge of sports is about as deep as my daughter's appreciation for my family Preston Sturges DVD nights: "Dad, it is black and white and they talk way faster than humans. We're not watching this."

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And so I think it is best if I pass over our pre-game coverage to my favorite breathless mobile sports color commentators, Chip and Dale. When it comes to making the obvious seem epic, these guys are true sports pros. They can offer the same shallow insight ten times in a row and rifle through every sports cliché in the book without a shred of self-consciousness. Guys?

Chip: Thanks Steve. Any by the way, nice tutu you're wearing there. Only kidding, bro. We're sure there is some vestigial testosterone in you somewhere.

Dale: So, Chip. Let's not be cute or mince words. The 800-pound gorilla of Super Bowl advertising, Anheuser-Busch is back again adding mobile interactivity to their Bud Bowl ad spots. They have been signing up mobile users all week and will let us vote on their ads during the game and get a secret unaired ad at the end.

Chip: Sounds a bit familiar to me, Dale. Not exactly a surprise to the competition. But you know, it is all about the content. If the ads are good, people will watch them. That's the name of the game.

Dale: You gotta have the content, Chip. There are a lot of blowhards out there who say it is about the technology, about placement. That's a lot of trendy garbage by eggheads with no stomach for the game. In the end, you need an ad in there.

Chip: What about the second-screen game this year, Dale? There has been a lot of locker room chatter about ESPN getting more single-day traffic to their mobile NFL site than their Web site. Is second-screening going to be a factor in this media game?

Dale: It's something I will be looking for, Chip. It is anyone's guess how much FoxSports itself will prompt users to mobile complements, because they don't want to distract us too much from the main playing field, the TV. That may leave a hole for others like ESPN to drive in with parallel programming.

Now Sprint, which has an ongoing media partnership with the NFL seems to be dancing around the game itself with their on-deck coverage. They opened a mobile site dedicated to the game. All this week they have been using the EV-DO network to stream press conferences and pre-game video from their entertainment network to users.

Sprint TV is one of the best kept secrets in mobile video, and it may remain a secret if they don't find ways to push it more effectively.  From the deck it would be hard to know that the Super Bowl pre-game clips are in the Sprint TV area. They are leveraging the event nicely with content but I don't know if this play will convert new customers.

 
Chip: So you're saying this is a game of exploiting opportunities.

Dale: Brilliant observation, Chip. People forget, it's not just one team on the field. A lot of guys think there really is only one team playing. But you know, the reality is they are not playing alone out there. It is a matter of knowing your opponent's weaknesses and exploiting them. There are a hundred million phones just sitting in people's pockets during this game. Will marketers know how to complete the pass to them? That is the big question.

Chip: No truer words ever were said, Dale. You gotta come ready to play. Dale, any wild cards in this game?

Dale: I am going to keep my eye on the pizza vendors, Chip. As you know, the Super Bowl is one of the heaviest pizza delivery days of the year. Most of the vendors now have direct mobile ordering via text messaging, so it will be interesting to see if they use their on-air ads to promote that service and kick-start the platform.

Pizza Hut is starting a ‘Snap for Rewards' program this week that lets users send a phone cam snapshot of their marketing materials to download coupons. If the pizza guys can make their mobile programs worthwhile, then they may be able to penetrate the mobile clutter of the game field this year and hit the consumer in the numbers.

Chip: So what you're saying, Dale, is that it's all about the value.

Dale: That's right, Chip. This is a game of value, now. Well, right after it is a game of content and opportunity. But really, it is a game of value. If you aren't going to give the consumers what they want, where they want it and when they want it, you may as well not come to the field. It ain't rocket science, Chip.

Chip: No it isn't, Dale. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here.   

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