Social Media and its impacts on the Super Bowl by Jitpal Singha


The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl XLVII and the game is over now. But the game and its social impact has left a lot of questions and probable answers in the minds of trade analysts, advertising agencies and their campaign development teams and also the companies investing their financial resources during the Super Bowl.

To see the impacts of social media on the Super Bowl this year, one has to compare it to the previous two years to see the growing and changing patterns in this advertising battle arena. Well, firstly the audience of super bowl across the America and even the globe has dramatically increased to a jaw dropping figure of 111.3 million viewers. This is more than what it was last year and since the number of viewers increases every year, this number is going to  shoot even more further up. What this means for the companies is that they can target their products or services via advertisements to this vast majority of viewers. This is the biggest platform after the presidential speech; thus this assures companies to make such huge investments to capture this wide area of viewership. Secondly, the exuberant price for the 30 second time slot was at the cost of upwards of $4 million. This puts every second at the price of $133,333 which to a small and medium enterprise seems way more than what their total advertising budget for the whole year is. But this is one of the most necessary steps that multinational companies are taking to capture and spread information about their product and services. This is also happening mainly due to the fact that their competitors are doing so, which puts them in a very competitive position where if they don’t take the same step in a more effective way, their competitors might steal their future sales and consumers. Another factor would also be that since social media is becoming the biggest medium and instigator of sales and brand awareness, companies need to be out their constantly. The number of people using social media has tripled than what it used to be in 2012, and this number is only growing higher and higher. So, instead of making small and continuous campaigns, big companies do not mind investing their financial resources into one expensive campaign with an rationally assured  viewership of upwards of 100 million at one go. The top 10 super bowl ads of 2012 were on an average of 83 seconds, this puts the price of their campaign at upwards of $10 million. The question to ask here is whether it was a worthwhile investment for these companies. For some companies, their advertisement campaigns success led to a higher number in sales. E.g. In terms of VW’s 2011 campaign, The Force got 5.57 million shares and also the sales targets surpassed with 20,902 VW Passat’s sold, up at 116%.

With more people using social media continuously, the main emphasis for companies is turning now towards making relationships with the consumers. 5 years ago, companies had the mindset of launching a product, marketing it and then maintain and retaining consumers by providing an effective post sales services. But the game is changing now; the trend now is to make relationships before even launching a product. The most effective instigator of any purchase is word of mouth, mostly by someone the consumer trusts like parents, friends, colleagues etc. But there is no way to target a person and ask him to share the information to his friends, so companies now aim at making interactive and engaging efforts to attract consumers. Social Media has changed into an emotional media and thus connections are now emotional experiences, where people need to like you, trust you, believe in you before they do business with you. If this is achieved and a company can attract one customer, he/she will share this information to his friends, family, colleagues, thus making the chain grow longer and wider.

Some interesting facts about the 2013 Super Bowl and the use of Social Media

  • 88% of social interactions took place on mobile devices. This shows that as the consumers are moving towards smart phones and using social media more and more, their engagement is getting more and more on the go.
  • The total social activity during the super bowl in 2013 was 52,556,479 than what it was in 2012 at 17,456,217; which approximately is 3.01 times more than last year.
  • 3.1 million Mentions during Beyoncé’s 12 minute half time show.
  • 24.1 million Game related tweets during the game.
  • Conversations during the technical difficulties/black out time topped 5.8 million social mentions. Athletic tweet won’t pale in conversation to the commercial tweets, Beyoncé’s performance tweets and even the blackout tweets.
  • 75% of the top 20 most shared ads were launched before the Super Bowl, mainly in the form of a teaser in order to generate hype.
  • Twitter was mentioned in 26 out of the 52 national commercials, exactly 50% whereas Facebook had 4 mentions during the CBS’s game coverage.

Also, Doritos was surely a pre-game winner with its ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ competition where it encourages amateur ad-makers to compete to have their 30 second spot at the super bowl. This itself is engaging and captures a lot of social media and PR buzz throughout the weeks leading to the super bowl.

Oreo’s on the other hand made the most of the blackout situation by being prepared with the timely fancy footwork of ‘You can still dunk in the dark’. With light shut out and nothing to do for the people at the stadium, this was a nice and engaging way to promote them innovatively. This got them 15,000 tweets many retweets and also 20,000 likes just during the blackout phase.

The most effective ad of the super bowl 2013 was the Budweiser “Brotherhood” ad which was very well received because it had the elements of emotions, building connections and it was short and simple unlike some other ads.

Looking at all the stats and reading everywhere, it can be possibly said that the trend is moving towards Twitter because it is easier to connect, has instant connections and the conversations are real time. People are moving towards building social connections that add value and having conversations and interactions to put their voice out virtually; the easiest way to do that is via Twitter than by Facebook since it has a long process of approval, denial and is mostly not real time.

Doesn’t matter what the trade forecasts say, about who’s the winner or loser, but we can surely accept that this process of marketing and advertising has changed and with people getting more and more online and having a vast virtual presence, there will be more changes to be seen in the next super bowl.

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