Blown Bowl

Apparently I am not alone in my disappointment over mobile marketing's showing in Sunday's Super Bowl. Let me just refer back to some comments readers appended to last week's column. 

I would like to get more of your reactions to this year's tepid, predictable effort (not that I am leading the tone of the discussions, mind you) below and perhaps explore what the next steps should be for mobile-leveraging the big event. I have my own thoughts, as you will see. 

Indeed, there were more short-code integrations with Super Bowl ads this year. I will defer to the superb video summary Kim Dushinski put together at her book promotion site It really is a marvelous overview, with great tips for marketers about how to make their mobile effort a bit more visible.



Quick hint: running the short code for a second in small type at the tail end of a Super Bowl spot barely qualifies as a mobile program. Do marketers really expect people to be sitting there with their handsets at the ready to dial in? I enlisted the younger brain matter of my family to recall the codes as they whizzed by. My daughter and fiancée love this exercise, of course, because it underscores the how much grayer my matter is than theirs. In our house we call this an "insult opportunity."

I agree with Kim's assessment that's short code call-out was the best. It sent back a WAP push formatted for the phone. Better still, the promotion itself had an NFL theme. I was disappointed that the next call to action from Monster (to search for jobs) just kicked me into their standard site. I was hoping for a deeper, made-for-mobile, follow-through experience. The Super Bowl spot, which actually featured a character using the mobile version of the service, has excellent mobile follow-through because the site itself is very good. And yet, another Super Bowl promotion (off air, I believe) for Johnsonville Sausages sent me an SMS reply that referred me to the company's standard Web site. Huh?

HipCricket's Jeff Hasen argues for more foreshadowing of the promotions to help alleviate the drive-by, after-thought feel of the fleeting integration on screen. But he also suggests NBC might have done more with the Springsteen material. Why not some calls to action, free ticket offers, etc.

Actually, my biggest disappointment was the general absence of the third screen being used as, well, a third screen. Aren't there endless opportunities for content providers to run parallel, complementary material? Think of all the non-NBC broadcasters and sportswriters who could have tunneled into our consciousness with mobile commentary, images, etc.

One sport brand apparently learned a valuable lesson during last season about the potency of that third screen during a sports event. According to reports, on at least one Sunday last year's mobile NFL page was receiving more traffic than its corresponding Web section. As users are discovering that mobile is their always-on Internet, they are using it as parallel programming. Who was exploiting this? Thankfully, at least ESPN tried it. The company ran a real-time blog of short commentary, as well as images, at its mobile site. Alas, the still images of key plays, which would have been so potent, were broken on the two phone browsers I tried. But extra points for effort here.

But where are the mobile Super Bowl parties via SMS? Shouldn't a colorful sports personality or former Super Bowler himself send text alerts to subscribers as he responds in real time to the game? The recipients could send messages in return that might get posted to a Web site or WAP site. This mobile party model is applicable to just about any TV event or show. This sort of events-based live blog or chat used to be more visible online a few years ago, but I don't see as much of it lately. The idea seems perfect for mobile, the always-there Internet.

Imagine the content possibilities here. Different party hosts could offer an endless selection of takes on a mass media event. Sports know-nothings like me could subscribe to snide comments from a fellow-traveler. True-believers would subscribe to a voice that is more respectful. The mobile event model would let different audiences come at the event from their own perspectives. The model leverages mobile media in the way it works naturally. How often do people sit on the phone and share a media experience with one another?  Mobile content should try to capture that conversational structure and use mobile to add another person to the room of TV viewers.

At any rate, you get the point. We need to find better ways of making the third screen live up to its own name.        

9 comments about "Blown Bowl ".
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  1. Meredith Speier from JWT, February 3, 2009 at 2:59 p.m.

    I agree with your overall sentiment, Steve, that marketers need to find ways to integrate the third screen. But with the economy such as it is, that ought to come at the expense of $3MM Super Bowl spots, not in addition to them.

    Savvy marketers should seek out ways to supplant the :30 spot during the big game, with a pre-game promotion and in-game SMS effort (or something along those lines). Building made-for-mobile sites and apps is expensive and may not be an option for many companies with dropping profits and slashed budgets.

  2. Kim Dushinski from Mobile Marketing Profits, February 3, 2009 at 3:09 p.m.

    Thanks for mentioning my video and I'm glad you liked it.

    You are so right that mobile campaigns that send the participant right back to the desktop are falling flat. The consumer is already using mobile to interact, why make them change devices?

    Maybe Superbowl XLIV...

  3. Tim Schaefer from Data/D, February 3, 2009 at 3:15 p.m.

    Until mobile phones arrive at a standard presentation interface, like web browsers, you're chasing a moving target.

    What needs to happen is for mobile phones to have standard presentation interfaces, such as a standard browser, and standard input mechanisms. This wasn't even considerable a year ago until the iPhone, but now we can say, make my phone with a touch screen.

    This is actually happening, ( blackberry too ) but the next step needs to be a standard input on the touch screen so that a wider number of developers can write to it. Developers don't like having to learn a new interface API for every mobile device, instead, create a standard platform to write to, and developers will come in droves. Google's phone is the first device that is built on an open standard. Apple needs to take notes on this, it won't be long before even the iPhone is going to look like yesterday.

    Personal computers went through this process, it's only a matter of time now for mobile devices. Apple may have laid the foundation but there will be even better stuff to follow on the open market.

  4. Fiona Thwaites, February 3, 2009 at 3:26 p.m.

    watch how march madness does harness the power of mobile. an audience that is all about comment and keeping in touch should see the creation of unique apps and interactions. fingers crossed.

  5. Fiona Thwaites, February 3, 2009 at 3:26 p.m.

    watch how march madness does harness the power of mobile. an audience that is all about comment and keeping in touch should see the creation of unique apps and interactions. fingers crossed.

  6. Gene Keenan from isobar, February 3, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

    I was not that disappointed with the bowl. It went more less as i thought it would go which was the same as last year.

    The super bowl spots to me are used more for branding than they are for direct response (cash4gold being an exception) so I am not surprised to see mobile used so sparingly within this domain. So tagging the very end of the TVC with a URL and or a text call to action seems spot on to me. It may seem bolted on (and it probably is) but i think that is intended. Having text call outs and incentives through out the TVC would change the tenor of the spot. I am not saying that maybe it cant be done just trying to provide an alternative view point.

    Honestly, what did surprise me is that cash4gold was given a 30 second spot during the super bowl... Just search for them on the internet to see my skepticism.

  7. Doug Darling from JOHN SANDY PROUDCTIONS, February 3, 2009 at 4:59 p.m.

    Are you kidding? The only ones following an event like the Super Bowl on a 2 inch mobile screen are folks that had to work that day. Don't be a putz. Doubt ROI would have paid off for mobile no matter what you did against almost a 100K viewers on big screens....

  8. Carolyn Hansen from Hacker Group, February 3, 2009 at 5:29 p.m.

    I hope I'm not just displaying my ignorance . . . but weren't the mobile (and also not-so-mobile-probably-on-a-laptop) Super Bowl parties held on Twitter? I don't Twitter on my phone -- but every time I sign in on my laptop they tell me to login on my phone as well.

  9. Karen Waller from Spot Media Group Advertising Inc., February 3, 2009 at 8:05 p.m.

    There is absolutely NO reason why 4 weeks of pre-promotion couldn't have happened without giving away the excitement of the actual spot that was to run.
    I'm only going to say one thing. When any Advertising Agency goes and spends that kind of money for an ad, they have to not risk their ROI by NOT running intergrated execution. For any Advertising Agency to not be responsible to the client to ensure that execution is fully delivered with the fragmentation of reaching out to consumers is being lazy. To not have all cylinders running to the fullest extent basically means you are not going to get to where you need to go. In terms of Advertisers slashing budgets, then they shouldn't have invested in the first place in something like superbowl. If done correctly, I'd project over 30% ROI. I'd be interested in seeing comps for clients who did it right over the ones who didn't.

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