Who Doesn't Want a Piece of Super Bowl Ad Action?

While Most of Spending Still Goes to TV, Search, Social Networks and Others Cash In

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Dreams retail isn't usually mentioned in the same breath as Super Bowl stalwarts Budweiser, Doritos or even GoDaddy. But as an advertising event, the Big Game is as important to the company as it is to those gridiron giants.

The difference is that Dreams Retail, which sells sports memorabilia and licensed sports attire, isn't forking over $3 million to NBC on Feb. 5. Instead, it's putting some of its budget against paid search advertising, readying for a flurry of consumers Googling "Super Bowl shirts" or "Super Bowl jerseys" well before they see the specially designed apparel the winners wear in the locker rooms after the game.

"The game is a big deal, but there's a lot that happens before and after the game and even during that is actually happening online," said Donn Durante, VP-marketing at Dreams Retail.

Indeed, an increasing amount of ad dollars spent around the Super Bowl are only tangentially related to the TV broadcast. As more people spend part of their day with a portable tablet at the ready and a couple of social networks onscreen, a bevy of media outlets that may not have existed during the time of Apple's "1984" Super Bowl spot or Coca-Cola's "Mean Joe Greene" commercial are making a grab for as much Super Bowl marketing money as they can.

"If last year was a '10'" in terms of the intensity of new-media outlets calling on advertisers who want to play off the Super Bowl, "this year goes to 11," said Joel Ewanick, global chief marketing officer at General Motors.

Of course, NBC will probably capture the majority of Super Bowl ad spending. The advertising packages the network has offered in most cases run between the aforementioned $3 million and $4 million. Yet there are a legion of new players -- some well-known, others just starting -- that are also drawing a significant amount of advertising spending around the event.

For the first time, Google's YouTube has struck a deal with the network televising the game. NBC will make viewers aware that the video-sharing site is hosting a "gallery" of Super Bowl commercials. (In return, YouTube will point surfers to NBC's broadcast and online video stream.) That boost from broadcast could make advertising that supports the gallery more visible.

In the meantime, Google expects plenty of smaller advertisers to try to take advantage of Super Bowl-inspired interest in everything from spinach dip to T-shirts. They have snatched up search terms in the weeks leading up to the event and will do so in the days immediately following it, said Suzie Reider, head of industry development for the global video team at Google.

Facebook has offered ad packages to all the advertisers sponsoring the Super Bowl broadcast on NBC, with Pepsi, Samsung Mobile, General Motors and Anheuser-Busch InBev supporting the social network's alliance with USA Today's popular Ad Meter. Coca-Cola is using Facebook to display the antics of its animated polar bears, who will weigh in on the gridiron action from a special "page" on the site.

GetGlue, the entertainment check-in site, has secured a deal with Pepsi in which the beverage maker will award prizes to people who check in during pregame programming and the game itself. Pre Play Sports has secured Subway Restaurants as a national sponsor of an app it developed that awards points to fans for predicting the outcome of each play of the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Mr. Ewanick said advertisers have to consider "layer upon layer upon layer" of different kinds of media. Because of the number of dollars being spent and the massive audience within reach, "We want to overwhelm," he said. "We want to be everywhere."

At Teleflora, which is entering its fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance, being strategic about "what we'll be doing to surround our Super Bowl ad" is just as important as devising the ad itself, said Laurie McCartney, the company's chief marketing officer.

Whether any of these other Super Bowl ad venues outstrip the TV commercials that have long drawn the majority of consumer attention remains to be seen. Even so, as more consumers watch TV while hunting and pecking across the ether for information, Mr. Durante's paid-search ads for football jerseys may gain stature while those big TV ads from Pepsi and Coke cede some ground.


Contributing: Cotton Delo, Kunur Patel

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