Post-game report: Super Bowl XLVI and social advertising

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The first time the NY Giants won the Super Bowl, Mark Zuckerberg was just two years old. But this is 2012. Social media strategies are no longer a nice-to-have for brands. In order to stay relevant and be part of the conversations, companies must invest in their social media budgets, as evidenced by the frenzy created this year by brands electing to preview their Super Bowl ads online.

As recently as last year, big brands kept their ads under lock-and-key until Game Day for a big Super Bowl debut; but with Twitter and Facebook now a part of everyday life, companies have an opportunity to extend the conversation.

The proof is in the dip

The companies that took advantage of social media outlets by either releasing a teaser or the entire commercial realized the full potential of the medium by achieving the following:

1) Increased audience size

Granted, the 2012 Super Bowl was the most viewed television show of all time reaching an audience of 114 million. But 483 million people log on to Facebook every day. The Super Bowl is typically watched only by those who are either interested in the game, or those attending a party where the game happens to be on in the background. However, short videos and excerpts posted to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr reach a much broader audience. By allowing people to preview on the Internet, brands are more likely to reach a larger audience.

2) Duration of the buzz

In years past, most brands left the debut of their ads to the game, which made the ads as attractive as the game itself. In Super Bowl media of yesteryear, the buzz started on Sunday and lasted about a week. This year, Honda launched a sneak peak of their ad on YouTube a few days prior to the Super Bowl. Within the time period leading up to the game, Honda’s commercial already had about 4.7 million views—more than any other commercial.

Overall, the result this year was probably about a 60% increase in terms of duration of chatter around ads that were previewed, which was supported by the additional four days of circulation prior to the game.

3) Cost efficiencies

Releasing Super Bowl ads over social media early is cost-effective for the amount of exposure your ad receives. Super Bowl spots cost about $3.5 million for only 30 seconds of airtime. But placing an ad on social media is free.

4) More channels

The discussion surrounding the ads is no longer relegated to the water cooler on Monday morning. As opposed to relying mostly on personal chatter and morning show ad recaps, social media sites were blowing up with comments related to the ads. Compared to last year, the social media comments increased from 1.8 million to 12.2 million (Bluefin labs, By Michael Guigli, 2/6/12).

The bottom (yard) line

It still seems like the connection to the single largest TV event in the country is the biggest determining factor of success for brands. However, it’s highly unlikely that companies can generate that much buzz around ads in general without social media.

In order for brands to be a part of the conversation, it’s imperative that they consider their social media strategy as integral to their growth. With the number of choices and brands customers encounter on a daily basis increasing, they must utilize social networking sites to convey their message. Without sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, brands aren’t making the impact that they could.

This just proves that companies need to be clear about their social media strategy. It’s no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.

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