Super Bowl mobile ads fizzle as gap grows between utility, innovation


Can marketers get mobile right for Super Bowl XLVIII?

While mobile is slated to play a bigger role in Super Bowl XLVIII campaigns from brandssuch asHM, Pepsi and McDonalds, innovative efforts that push the envelope too much with new technology could miss the mark on delivering entertainment and branding value.

HM, Pepsi and McDonald’s are traditionally three of the largest advertisers during the Super Bowl, and all are leveraging mobile in unique ways this year through video, new forms of advertising and commerce functions. Despite the fact that mobile continues to grab a bigger piece of marketing mixes, the shift towards using new types of technology is likely to be a bigger challenge for marketers this year than in past years.

It make sense for a brand to experiment with technology and showcase their true innovation with a larger than normal captive audience [during the Super Bowl], said Kinney Edwards, executive creative director at Tribal New York, New York.

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In most cases, this can come off as just a stunt with little value for the consumer, he said. Success in experimenting is not about a brand that uses technology just because its available, but because it makes sense in how it enhances the entertainment value, utility or experience for the audience.

Tcommerce experimentation
As more consumers use their smartphones and tablets to interact with content in real-time, mobile has increasingly been playing a bigger role for Super Bowl marketers in the past few years.

This year, HM is taking its big Super Bowl spot mobile with a new type of technology that lets consumers buy merchandise straight from an ad.

HM is enabling consumers with a Samsung Smart TV to shop from the brands television spot through a mobile app that syncs with the TV.

The 30-second ad will promote David Beckhams Bodywear spring collection and is powered by a TV-to-online platform called Delivery Agent.

A still from the new ad

However, not all experts agree that testing a new type of TV-to-mobile shopping experience during a widely watched event such as The Super Bowl is a good idea.

Although HMs campaign could be an interesting way for the apparel marketer to introduce a new type of technology to consumers, there are still quite a few hurdles in getting these initiatives to scale.

First, the mobile-enabled ad is limited to consumers who own a 2012 or 2013 Samsung Smart TV set. 

Additionally, the technology requires that consumers download an app and use it at exactly the right time that the ad runs, mirroring the same challenges that have kept second-screen third-party apps on the back burner for brands in the past.

The challenge for advertisers in leveraging first-to-market types of technology is that it forces marketers to change a lean-back behavior that is already instilled in consumers while watching TV, according to Douglas Rozen, chief innovation officer of MXM and senior vice president and general manager at MXM Mobile, New York.

Instead of looking to push the envelope with mobile, marketers should hone in on social media this year with entertaining bits of content that takes advantage of the fact that mobile has become the dominant platform for sharing.

Additionally, marketers should leverage mobile and TV in conjunction to drive Web traffic and simplify the lead process as part of the path-to-purchase.

We don’t believe the Super Bowl is the place for experimentation of technology, Mr. Rozen said.

The reality is viewers are there to watch and share the experience with friends and family they are not running to download augmented reality enabled geo-triggering applications just because they can,” he said.

Rewarding mobile behavior
With more consumers tuned into their smartphones and tablets during the game this year, new ad formats and media buying plans are already beginning to roll out from brands.

The interest in programmatic ad buying has increased significantly from marketers in the past year, which will likely be a powerful tool for marketers to use during the game.

It is no surprise that the number of mobile searches related to advertisements swells during the Super Bowl, giving marketers a way to serve up related content to consumers in real-time.

At the same time, the strength of the mobile banner ad has decreased in the past year while incentive-based ad models are catching on with marketers.

Again, the underlying takeaway is that marketers must tie these ads to a value for consumers that they cannot get elsewhere.

For example, McDonalds has launched a new rewards-based advertising campaign that is running within SessionMs network of mobile apps to build up some hype before the game.

The ads pop up after consumers receive points for an in-app achievement, and the campaign promotes the chain’s Mighty Wings.

Creative on the ad encourages consumers to answer a Super Bowl-themed trivia question to earn an additional 40 points.

If consumers answer the question correctly, they can receive an additional 10 points by clicking through to find a McDonalds location.

The McDonald’s ad

Clicking through on the ad pulls up a list of nearby locations, and consumers can view maps and directions to each store through Google Maps.

Driving in-store traffic is consistently a top priority for McDonald’s, which is prominent in this new campaign, and the call-to-action gives consumers an immediate way to take action.

Teasing commercials
With more video watching taking place on smartphones and tablets, simply banking on TV to reach consumers with a 30-second message is not enough for big brands anymore.

Instead, it has become the norm for brands to push out snippets of TV commercials before they air through digital and mobile platforms. Then after the game, big brands leverage bits of the content into post-Super Bowl video campaigns.

Take, Pepsi for example.

Pepsi is traditionally one of the largest Super Bowl advertisers and was also one of the launch brands on Apples music streaming service iTunes Radio last year.

Pepsi is running a video campaign on iTunes Radio to debut the first 30 seconds of the brands Super Bowl ad.

Pepsi’s video ads

The ads also include a call-to-action below the video that promotes Pepsis sponsorship of the halftime show.

The Super Bowl ads fit into a bigger NFL-themed campaign that Pepsi launched in the fall called #FanEnough. The campaign includes branded music stations created by NFL players including Jeremy Maclin and Victor Cruz.

In addition to Pepsi leveraging the teaser in its ad, the brand is also featured within a new group of video trailers that YouTube has released.

Consumers are hungry for commercials leading up to the big game, and leaking previews of the ads before Super Bowl Sunday is likely effective in getting consumers to tune in for the game to watch the entire spot.

Super Bowl ads are no longer about the 15 or 30 second spots that run during the Super Bowl and the chatter they drive after it, said Whitney Fishman, senior director of innovation and consumer technology at MEC, New York.

Social platforms and mobile devices enable the conversation to start weeks before the Super Bowl, more so than ever, she said. Just like the players prep for the big game, marketers can use an increasingly in-depth number of tools to generate excitement and buzz for their advertisements, something that is unthinkable almost any time of the year.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

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