Why Super Bowl 2015 gave us a preview of the digitally-driven TV future

Volvo's 'Greatest Interception Ever'

The Super Bowl has always been a TV advertising showpiece.

Recently, there has been a shift towards a more digital approach through seeding creative pre-game on social media, using digital interactivity to alter TV creative (for example 2013’s Coke Chase) and in-game second screen ‘real-time’ marketing.

However, 2015 saw a new digital approach that shaped not just how digital media is used in Super Bowl advertising, but how digital methodology and technology can change our approach to TV advertising.

Media meshing to media hijacking

In 2015, brands continued to tweet the Super Bowl.

However, two brands stood out because they didn’t tweet the Super Bowl, but rather, tweeted about the commercials within it.

Volvo created the ‘greatest interception ever’ by not using TV but instead running a Twitter competition that could only be entered when competitors appeared on television. The campaign generated 15,000 mentions – almost as many as Budweiser and Snickers.

However, the clear buzz winner was McDonalds, which followed its spot ('Pay with Lovin') by giving away products from other advertisers on its Twitter feed as their spots aired. Most were retweeted between 5,000-10,000 times each, with some well over that figure.

Whilst brandjacking is by no means a new tactic, technology is making it easier for advertisers to do this at scale through the second screen. For example, TV Synching allows competing brands to automatically trigger digital display and search ads when signals are received from TV networks.

Of course, advertisers can (and should) be taking advantage of the second screen to drive more value from their TV advertising. But it’s also a huge watch out.

Different audiences need different content

The Super Bowl is the biggest live TV event of the year in America. But there is a small, but growing audience that is digital streaming the event (1.3 million in 2015). This audience tends to be younger and more tech savvy.

T-Mobile understood this and created a different 'Data Stash' spot for the stream. Kim Kardashian was used on TV, but an execution, featuring comedian Rob Riggle, ran online.

The Kardashian execution was created to generate ‘Super Bowl celeb buzz’, whereas the stream execution focused more on product benefits and drove traffic to the T-Mobile website and social channels (and subsequently retargeted).

This year also saw Google became a linear broadcaster with a 40-minute ‘YouTube Super Bowl Half Time Show’ featuring stars from the platform. Whilst the sketches, games and musical numbers may not have had the production values as Katy Perry, the show was aimed squarely at the disengaged younger audience, and featured strong product placement for Google products.

By understanding the different platform audiences, T-Mobile and Google were able to tailor their content and messaging accordingly. As the ‘first screen’ begins to blur, we also need to take this segmented approached to AV creative.

The Super Bowl goes programmatic

Oreo’s 2013 Dunk in the Dark tweet is still held up as benchmark for Super Bowl advertising, as well as reactive marketing. In 2015, MediaVest US client Mondelez is again targeting audiences in real-time – but through television.

In a Super Bowl first, Mondelez ran two commercials for Oreo and Ritz through a programmatic TV buy.

We often associate programmatic with digital display inventory, but the availability of out of home, radio and TV inventory that can be traded programmatically is increasing.

By using external signals as triggers (e.g. media hijacking) and a tailored creative approach, we will soon be able to take the ‘data-fuelled’ digital programmatic approach to traditional channels such as TV:

  • TV will be bought in real-time based on consumer data and other triggers
  • Creative can be customised for audience segments and other parameters
  • Data and connected devices will allow us to target across screens

2016 may very well be the year we see the first ‘digital’ Super Bowl.

Liam Brennan is digital strategy director at Starcom MediaVest Group. He tweets @LCBrennan

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