Adobe Digital Index (ADI) research indicates record playoff audiences and surging social media buzz—suggesting Super Bowl XLVIII viewership is poised to capture the top position as the largest television audience broadcast of all time in the U.S.
What’s more, Fox Sports’ announcement that it will live stream the game to iPads just about ensures that this year’s game at MetLife Stadium, in New Jersey, will also be the most mobile Super Bowl ever.
For marketers, however, this year’s Super Bowl—which for more than two decades has been a showcase for the most innovative and expensive advertising of the year—has become a more complex challenge: While the worlds of digital and broadcast have merged into one from the viewer’s perspective, they remain somewhat disconnected on the marketer’s side.
Social media marketing, online video releases, and mobile-optimized Web sites are now key to creating that trophy-winning Super Bowl marketing moment. That’s why many marketers have assembled teams of digital specialists to augment their grand broadcast investments and score some big-game points.
Social Media Is Off The Sidelines
The opportunity to capitalize on social media marketing is massive. In fact, advertisers have already started to see large gains in their social mentions: After a week of post-playoff activity, Super Bowl advertisers have surpassed the social media mentions of their competitors. This trend shows no signs of slowing down as we roll into the game.
The main driver of increased social buzz appears to be television advertising. Chevrolet released an ad teaser on Jan. 28 that helped boost it to the No. 1 spot for social media mentions. Pepsi’s big ad during the Grammy show pushed the brand above Coca-Cola for the first time in the past few weeks. Budweiser launched a series of pre-Bowl ads designed to initiate conversation on Twitter with #UpforWhatever, which saw some buzz, but not enough to break into the top five advertisers.
In addition to the size of the campaign, quality creative that is humorous, altruistic, or emotionally evocative factors into the results for marketers.
Social Buzz Predicts Big Viewership
We’ve demonstrated in previous ADI reports that social media buzz is an accurate predictor of future viewership. This year, if the number of social media mentions of the Super Bowl, teams, coaches, and key players in the week immediately following the final playoff games are any indication, viewership for this year’s event should be sky-high, leading us to predict this year’s Super Bowl will be the largest U.S. sporting event audience ever.
Conversation about teams and quarterbacks is also growing and shows the building excitement about the game.
Web And Mobile Traffic Playbook
ADI analysis of the past three Super Bowls demonstrates that Internet traffic starts picking up for Super Bowl advertisers prior to Sunday, with peaks increasing during the broadcast as a result of more mobile traffic. Traffic is typically up 15 percent during the day of the game; during the actual event, traffic runs 20 percent above normal. Traffic also stays higher than average for a few weeks after as the lingering impact of the advertising continues.
ADI research also suggests that with more social pregame activity, advertisers’ Web sites will see an uptick in traffic earlier, and post-campaign activity could sustain that traffic surge longer.
Mobile Is The Ticket
More than 50 percent of viewers will have a smartphone in their hands at some point during the Super Bowl. One in three of them will be using the phone to chat on social media. So it’s not surprising that ADI research also suggests that visits to advertisers’ Web sites via mobile devices are expected to lead the increase in traffic on game day. Super Bowl advertisers will see a jump in mobile traffic of 60 percent versus a typical day, with nearly one in three Web site visits coming from a mobile device during the big game.
2014’s Biggest Opportunity?
This is the year the Super Bowl’s tradition of marketing excellence will become truly digital, with the event likely to generate the largest mobile and social marketing opportunities of 2014. Not only are savvy advertisers making sure their Web sites are optimized for mobile traffic, they are also pushing forward with incremental mobile and social supporting campaigns. Even those marketers that can’t afford the $4 million TV ad price tag are poised to take advantage of the incremental mobile and social traffic to launch digital-only campaigns.
After the game, check back here to find out how Super Bowl advertisers faired in social, mobile, and Web site traffic.
(Note: ADI research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions. Social mention data was gathered using Adobe Social and sourced from publically available records.)