Ads for Ads: The Latest Super Bowl Trend

Super Bowl XLVII will kick off February 3, 2013 and though there will be tens of thousands attending the game live, the majority of fans will make do with TVs, mobile devices or even the radio.

While millions of viewers tune in to watch the game, it’s the halftime shows and premium-priced ad spots that often take center stage.  Super Bowl ads have become so interesting because of the time and resources brands put into the 30 second spots, using humor, controversy and countless other tactics to impress one of the largest real-time audiences the world’s ever known.

The advent of social media and mobile trends have introduced new opportunities for advertisers during Super Bowl season, and brands find a way to leverage new technology every year.  What can we expect from Super Bowl advertisers this year?

Building early buzz with social media

Because of the anticipation for ads during Super Bowl, we’re seeing an increasing number of early teasers for commercials.  Last year, Volkswagen posted an online teaser for their Super Bowl ad, which got everyone talking on social media sites. This year, Volkswagen is at it again with an almost 2-minute teaser video, Sunny Side, which features various video clips of people crying, getting emotional, and later singing with joy.

The company is banking on social media to spread the video like wildfire, building buzz before the ad even airs on live TV.  It’s a promising tactic —  ast year, VW’s Bark Side video, which features dogs barking the Star Wars theme, got 15 million hits.

“The social side of the Super Bowl is massive,” explains Justin Osborne, general manager of advertising and marketing communications at VW. “Every consumer all of a sudden gets to put on an ad executive’s hat.”

Kraft has taken a cue from VW with their own teaser for Mio Fit, a zero-calorie customizable sports drink.  At first you’d think the video is a serious one, then before it ends, Tracy Morgan appears asking if you could say “BLEEP” on TV.

So what’s VW’s messages here?  The quirkier the video, the more people will watch it, talks about and share with other people.  Also, teasers for ads make a huge difference in building intrigue around the actual ad.

According to Nielsen, ads shown during the game are more memorable to people compared to those showed during regular programming.  This is the reason why companies are dying to get a spot at Super Bowl, but not everyone is happy about the ads.  In an NRF survey, it showed that 8.9 percent complain that ads just make the game longer, but 8.4 percent of viewers stated that the ads influence them to buy the product.

Mobile, the third (fourth & fifth) screen

In a separate survey from InMobi, it showed that more people are using their mobile devices during the Super Bowl.  Twenty-nine percent use their mobile device for at least an hour during the Super Bowl, 18 percent use mobile devices for more than three hours, and 30 percent spend at least 15 minutes to less than an hour on their mobile device.

The survey also showed that 22 percent of people use their mobile devices to re-watch the ads they saw during the Super Bowl, while 17 percent used their devices to search more about the product they saw in an ad.

Not surprisingly, the mobile trend overlaps a great deal with social developments.  Aside from watching ads and searching for related information, viewers also use their devices to do other Super Bowl-related tasks, such as downloading the Super Bowl app at 27 percent, discussing the game via social media at 23 percent, and talking about the ads at 16 percent.

Last year’s Super Bowl dominated Twitter, especially during closing.  Twitter stated that in the last three minutes of the game, Twitter users fired off 10,000 tweets per second and reached 12,233 TPS at the very end of the game, while Madonna’s half-time performance saw an average of 8,000 TPS over five minutes.

It is expected that those numbers will be topped off this year.