TV Advertising was said to be dead a few years ago. Life after the 30-Second Spot by Joseph Jaffe was only one publication that comes to mind but the talk was everywhere. Yet, advertisers paid close to four million for 30-second spots at yesterday’s Super Bowl.
The increased online hype around the ads running during the game has helped to drive demand up. Some of them had millions of views prior to the game, did get 10,000’s of mentions on Twitter during the event and their lifespan extends far into the future.
I was particularly interested in any 2nd screen activities during the game.
Just in case the term is not familiar to you: In very simple terms 2nd screen can be defined as an additional device with a display that lets you interact with the content you are watching on your TV.
I decided to fully dive in and had my tablet, smartphone and laptop fired up. Here are some of my findings:
Shazam started out as a service that let you scan music you’d listen to and tell you the title and performer of the song. They ventured into TV as well and let you scan shows and show you related content. I had received an email from them alerting me to special content during the game. Once I turned on the app and scanned it I was presented with the following options:
- Get this Song
- Rate and Replay the ads
- Live Game Statistics
- What is Shazam for TV
Rate and Replay the ads had the most appeal to me. I could rate ads and see right away how other viewers rated the ad. Unfortunately the list wasn’t updated in real time and had some latency. It appeared that the app was scanning only once to find my channel and then pretty much went on autopilot. What I was missing were some push notifications coming with the ads like use hashtag XYZ or re-tweet or comment here for a chance to win.
Viggleâ„ is a loyalty program for television that gives people real rewards for checking into the television shows they’re watching. Unfortunately I was not able to log into the app via Facebook or Twitter prior to the game. I just got error messages and therefore had to exclude Viggle from my self-test.
Zeebox calls itself your TV sidekick. It’s an interactive dashboard that showed me super bowl related tweets and had some nice graphics showing the buzz around the ads. It had an elegant re-tweet function built in. If you are using Twitter while you are watching TV it can certainly enhance the experience for you but it didn’t do much beyond that in terms of luring me in.
Fancake by Kwarter is a live social game that rewards fans for watching sports on TV. During the game I was constantly asked for making predictions (who scores the next touchdown, how will the punt kick be received, how many penalties during the next possession). I could win points for every right guess and see how I ranked against other players. This game within the game had a sense of urgency since I sometimes had only seconds to answer a question. At any given time I had 3-6 predictions running. The points you earn during playing can be redeemed for sports tickets or other prizes.
5. Interactive Ads
I was prepared to getting blasted with URL’s to visit, hashtags to include into Tweets and all kind of other things that marketers could use as starting points for an online conversation with me. To my surprise the calls to action from the big screen were rather limited. Among the 75 ads that aired during the game only two really stood out for me. Oreo’s asked the viewers to join them on Instagram and gained about 30k followers. Coca Cola asked the audience to visit a microsite to vote on the outcome of their chase ad. 3 teams competed to get to some Coke in the desert. I visited the microsite and only got to see an empty screen. I checked on a second browser and even my other 2nd screens. It took over 5 minutes after the ad had aired until I was presented with the option to vote. The option to vote was there days before the game.That was certainly a hiccup. The final part of the ad aired after the game and served as a nice reminder of my prior engagement with the ad. Many people who didn’t leave their TV on missed that part though.
Overall I was expecting more from brands in terms of channeling the online hype they created into specific calls to action.
I was surprised about the hiccups (Coke, Viggle). I’d imagine you’d make sure you can handle the extra traffic on this busy day but we can only control our own environment and not some 3rd party bottlenecks. The NFL will be happy to confirm that. ;)
Overall it was still a good day for creative minds. Oreo’s captured the moment when the lights went out in the stadium because of a power failure with an instant campaign on Twitter (you can still dunk in the dark). It got over 10,000 re-tweets. The moments where I was annoyed by ads were less than in some prior years. Godaddy always scores in that category but had less company than in the past.
Twitter is clearly the main hub for 2nd screen conversations. Facebook is a more closed environment that is suited much less for a conversation with people sharing the same interest but which are not necessarily in your circle of friends.
Google+ seems to have escaped the event entirely. I didn’t see one mention of it as part of any of the main campaigns.
2nd screen is really an opt-in experience. Unless you tune in it will escape you. It is also a totally different experience from watching with a group of friends. I chose to watch the game by myself to be able to dive in. I would have felt like I am ignoring my friends or I’d be missing out if I would have been at a party. This sets some clear boundaries for many second screen experiences. It feels worse than texting the dinner table if 5 people watch TV and are also glued to their tablets at the same time. That’s a huge challenge to overcome for this whole new world that advertisers love because it can provide them with instant and rich feedback on their activities. Your living room could turn into a WLAN gaming party if marketers have it their way and your friends or family are willing to go along with it.
Even though I am comparing apples with oranges I have to say that Fancake was the clear winner of the my experiment. I just don’t know how I’d feel about using it when I’d be surrounded by my friends.