Game Time: Agencies Strengthen Social Efforts For Super Bowl Sunday

super2If you happen to have $4.5 million burning a hole in your pocket, congratulations! You can afford a 30-second Super Bowl TV spot.

Of course, for most big game advertisers it’s not enough to have 30 seconds of spectacular creative – you also have to support it via online and social channels.

“Social is huge this year,” Havas Chief Media Officer Adam Kasper told AdExchanger. “The spot itself is just a launching point, and this is probably true for a lot of brands.”

“There are certainly advancements in strategic approach this year,” he added. “We’re looking to surround Super Bowl ad content with lots of relevant side content. And the efforts around cross-device and cross-channel are bigger than ever this year. All of the activity leading up to the spot and post-game is what makes the investment worthwhile.”

The opportunities for online consumer engagement and the staggering price of Super Bowl TV spots are driving more advertisers to adopt digital strategies.

“We looked at the softness of the market and saw that there was cost advantage this year in going after Super Bowl advertising, and hooked onto opportunities ‘in game’ that leveraged both our TV and digital spends for our clients,” explained Jason Smith, digital media director at Horizon Media.

The social networks are certainly aware of that demand, as well as the $66 billion in TV ad spend that surrounds the event. They’ve all launched ad offerings this year, specifically for the Super Bowl. Facebook will scan user posts for key words tied to the game, package those users into audience segments and sell those segments to advertisers. All that will happen in real time and will include Facebook’s autoplay video spots.

Twitter has tripled the number of advertisers it’s working with directly since last year. For its 13 advertiser partners, among those PepsiCo and Anheuser Busch, Twitter is staffing “war rooms” to generate content in real time and monitor social conversations.

Meanwhile, YouTube has partnered with the NFL this year to churn out exclusive content surrounding the game. And through a separate partnership with Collective Digital Studios, YouTube is creating a halftime show to test audience engagement.

Tumblr, too, is looking to participate and struck a partnership with NBC to house Super Bowl ads immediately after they air on Sunday.

“All of these [ad products] point toward a wide acceptance of multiscreen, multitouch and multilayered set of experience within major sporting events,” said Smith, adding that Horizon is measuring these efforts using Nielsen’s cross-campaign ratings (XCR) product.

“We are also looking at YouTube engagement and social metrics, where our ads will be housed for social viewing, to understand the emotional connection we are driving with the audience,” Smith explained.

Horizon will also use mixed modeling to measure how linear and digital Super Bowl media is driving sales for its clients.

“We are attaching first-party site conversation data to retarget existing mid- and lower-funnel customers in Super Bowl content across the web,” Smith said. “We’re also measuring the impact of this as A/B test vs. non-first-party Super Bowl targeting. “

Others are using brand awareness as the core metric. Havas will couple social listening leading up to and during the game with brand studies for its main client, Avocados From Mexico, and will apply those insights back to regular campaigning post-Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl is going to help us identify and solidify live audiences,” Kasper said. “It’s going to help us continue to grow our understanding of our target audiences and pinpoint which demographics are gravitating toward our client.”

But with ramped up digital efforts this year, how much inventory is being bought and sold programmatically?

“We’re using programmatic in terms of targeting through social channels, and in areas like video to push the spot and surrounding content out,” Kasper said.

But he noted that automaton might not be right for the particulars of Super Bowl advertising.

“We’re doing a lot of stuff that’s not automated and more manual, which is just as important,” Kasper added. “It’s dangerous to put everything in an automated basket for something like this because you have to make very specific and qualitative decisions to make it work.”

It may be too soon for programmatic to be the dominant strategy for Super Bowl advertising this year, but given time that could change. Advertisers are seemingly starting to reserve Super Bowl spots in an automated manner, but they’re starting small.

On Sunday, WideOrbit will traffic two 15-second spots for Mondelez, through TubeMogul’s programmatic platform, PTV, to be aired in Erie, Penn. Erie’s a testing ground, but could point to national programmatic strategies to come.

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