Super Bowl XLIX – What Will It Take to Engage Viewers?

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The Super Bowl—or more descriptively: the biggest marketing event of the year—generates a lot of hype among Americans. The game itself is supposedly the main event, but the advertising has become a bigger point of interest for many. So, what will it take for advertisers to provoke consumer engagement this Sunday?

The advertising rates within the game this year aren’t pocket change. It’s costing advertisers $4.5 million for 30-second spots and $9 million for 60-seconds. However, according to a Brand Keys Super Bowl ad engagement survey noted in a recent AdWeek article, less than half of this year’s Super Bowl advertisers will actually score consumer engagement with their ads. The brands expected to come across as “entertaining rather than engaging“ include Budweiser (yes, the beloved puppy commercials), Coke, McDonald’s and Mophie. “You can do the most creative work and have a billion shares, but that doesn’t mean someone is going to start buying these brands’ products,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.

What, then, can marketers do to win over their consumers and achieve that need-to-have brand engagement?

One solution is referred to as real time marketing. In our super-connected world, people are watching more than just the TV screen during the game. They are tuning into multiple screens, including mobile phones, tablets and laptops. As noted on WIRED, advertisers need to do more than just run commercials to get fans’ attention. They have to stay on their toes on Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels to stay relevant.

Thinking back two years ago to Super Bowl XLVII, no one scored quite like Oreo did, when the cookie’s social media team jumped on the cultural moment during the unexpected blackout at the Superdome in the third quarter, tweeting “Power out? No problem.” With an image showing a starkly-lit solitary Oreo and the caption: “You can still dunk in the dark.” This blast caught on almost immediately, getting nearly 15,000 re-tweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook. This cost Oreo $0 media dollars, yet it’s the most remembered moment from 2013’s Big Game. Why such a success? The unexpected factor.

“The success that has happened with all Super Bowl advertising [comes from] being unexpected. The challenge for brands today is to figure out their way of doing so,” said Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of 360i, the agency responsible for Oreo’s marketing “touchdown.”

Advertisers can do a number of things to prep for real-time opportunities—staffing command centers or “war rooms,” crafting posts ahead of time, mapping out potential moments long before kickoff, setting up listening rooms to monitor what consumers are saying about the company, etc. However, something like the 2013 power outage igniting the tweet seen ‘round the States, could have never been predicted.

Real time marketing offers brands far more agility to respond in the moment and can help the big dollars invested in Super Bowl TV advertising reach even further. Real time marketing is powerful, and it should, without a doubt, be a top priority for advertisers who want to provoke more engagement on Sunday.

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