Watching the Super Bowl is part watching the NFL Championship game and part watching the Super Bowl TV Ads all while at a party with friends. It is an American tradition that is now enjoyed via an increasing number of media devices and social channels. This is certainly a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Jeffrey Stewart from the MSS Practice in North America decided to ask how many digital channels did you experience the superbowl with this year?

This weekend football fans saw the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots with a score of 21 to 17. But the Super Bowl is also about being with friends. And to many, like my spouse, the TV commercials are a more important part of what has become an American tradition.

What is different now is that there are many more ways to watch the game, view the ads and discuss them with others around the world. Fans can use web sites, social media platforms, broadband streaming, mobile devices and apps that encourage sharing and discussing, to read more about the impact of social TV – Read our previous blog post from Simon Ellacott. The result is ever increasing viewing, messaging, posting, sharing and discussing. Just take a look at these statistics from the past several years.

Is It Live or Is It Pre-recorded?


The impact of multi-channel interaction is dramatic.The audience for live events has increased along with online social mediaDURING the event. While, over all, broadcast TV ratings continue to drop due to splintering of audiences to cable, on demand, time shifting and online alternatives. This is because live events are social events. You can share the experience with others communally in real time. An increasing number of viewers use a laptop or mobile device for emailing, texting, posting and checking-in WHILE watching TV programing. A recent poll showed that 40% of mobile users say they use their devices to respond to ads on TV. When you couple that with a huge event like the Super Bowl, dramatic results can occur.

Live event programming like the OscarsEmmysGrammysElection Debates and Reality TV finales have all seen increasing ratings over the last several years. These all coincide with measurable increases in activity on social platforms like Twitter. But none approaches the statistics and ad spend associated with the Super Bowl.

Isn’t It Just a Ball Game?

Some people this year are Patriots fans and some are Giants fans – but all are using social media to cheer and jeer each other. I am one who uses Twitter as part of my sporting event experience. I like to follow specific #hashtags associated with the team I am rooting for. I end up seeing a lot of fans’ reactions to moments in the game in a shared way. Teams have reacted by encouraging fans to interact with cyber outposts on TwitterYouTube and Google+.

For many however, Super Bowl Sunday is about the commercials. It used to be that the ads’ contents were a surprise except to an inside few. Now it is common for the ads to be available as sneak previews to create even more traffic and excitement. Social Media is being used to increase participation with attractions such as online polling on Facebook.

As Social TV becomes more popular, more tools have cropped up to be part of the action. Certainly more and more integration will occur that blurs the line between broadcast, on-demand viewing, advertising and social interaction. One tool I personally use on my iPad and Android is GetGlue to check-in, rate and comment on what I am watching. This year its popularity has really taken off as they continue to add gamification to social experiences.

Do Channels Integrate?

Some advertisers use call to action methods to get viewers to continue the experience. In 2005 made a splash by asking viewers to go to their web site to see more of their suggestive commercial that was censored. This year they are also using QR Codes that allow mobile devices with cameras to go to See More Now. Clearly the trend is for advertisers to integrate and extend their $3.5M investments.

An example of a brand that really takes integration seriously is Bridgestone. As a primary Super Bowl sponsor they have outposts on TwitterFacebookYouTube and other platforms. The team at Bridgestone has obviously created a multi-channel strategy to extend and cross support popular online channels.

One tactic Bridgestone used was to create a number of teaser commercials available online before the game, and commercials such as Performance Football during the game. This ad is  complimented with several other performance sports commercials and the Time To Perform landing page. Their Facebook digital epicenter and other social media tactics both serve content to visitors as well as to encourage sharing and cross linking to other digital endpoints. Bridgestone could not have accomplished this breadth and depth of channel support for the Super Bowl without a good plan.

Why should you care? As a marketer or product manager you need to care because traditional advertising is being supplanted by a plethora of new communication channels for your prospects and customers to engage with. While the challenge of planning appropriate use of each channel is not simple, it can managed. A strategic framework can maximize benefits through effective channel management. A well managed set of integrated customer channel experiences can truly be bigger and better then each of them alone.