Record playoff audiences and surging social media buzz suggest Super Bowl XLVIII viewership is poised to capture the top position as the U.S.'s largest television audience broadcast of all time, according to Adobe Digital Index research. 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 to score some big-game points.
Social Media Is Off the Sidelines
The opportunity to capitalize on social media marketing during the Super Bowl is massive. In fact, advertisers have already started to see large gains in their social mentions. After a week of post play-off activity, Super Bowl advertisers have surpassed the social media mentions of their competitors, according to a recent research and a survey conducted by Adobe Digital Index. 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 put it to the No. 1 spot in social media mentions. Pepsi's big ad during the Grammy show pushed the brand above Coca-Cola for the first time in the last 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 Adobe Digital Index 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
Adobe Digital Index 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% during the day of the game; during the event, itself, traffic runs 20% above normal. Traffic also stays higher than average for a few weeks after, as the lingering impact of the advertising continues.
Adobe Digital Index 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
Over 50% of viewers will have a smartphone in their hand at some point during the Game. One in three of them will be using the phone to chat on social media. So it's not surprising that Adobe Digital Index research also suggests that visits to advertiser's websites via mobile devices are expected to lead the increase in traffic on game day and Super Bowl advertisers will see a jump in mobile traffic of 60% 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 generating 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.
The analysis presented here is based on select, anonymous, and aggregated data from over 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions, to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on their websites. Social mention data was gathered using Adobe Social and sourced from publicly available records. A January 2014 survey conducted by Adobe included 400 online surveys completed in the United States.
After the game, check back to find out how Super Bowl advertisers faired in social, mobile and web site traffic.