Super Bowl

Social Networks Aim to Land More Super Bowl Ad Dollars

Twitter, Facebook Try to Win Larger Paid-ad Outlays as They Assume Bigger Role In Big Game

By Published on .

Now that they've become an established part of the Super Bowl marketing playbook, social networks are looking to command more of fans' attention and maybe a bigger share of TV ad dollars.

There are already examples pointing to Facebook and Twitter having a more central role, which can begin at the inception of a TV spot.

Lincoln hired Jimmy Fallon to help produce its first Super Bowl ad based on tweeted script submissions. (Contributors to the finished product will have their Twitter handles displayed in the spot.) Pepsi is taking to social media to ask fans for pictures of themselves to be part of a commercial to run just before the halftime show; Toyota is asking fans on Twitter to submit a photo to be included in its ad. And for the seventh year, Doritos is holding its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest in which fans vote on spots created by amateur filmmakers. But this year the voting will occur on Facebook.

As marketers guide eyeballs to social-media content in the weeks leading up to the game to gin up buzz for their spots, ads on those platforms may start to look more valuable. According to Frito-Lay VP-marketing Ram Krishnan, Facebook is the biggest digital-ad partner for this year's installment of "Crash the Super Bowl," which includes a substantial investment in sponsored stories. "Our investment in Facebook was very minimal last year, but ... our media mix has changed considerably."

PepsiCo Beverages' global head of digital Shiv Singh expects advertisers to spend liberally on Twitter on game day based on the massive user engagement the platform saw last year (10,000 Super Bowl-related tweets every second in the final three minutes of the game) which is bound to rise this year. "As a brand and as a social network, Twitter is going to win the Super Bowl even without having an ad," he said.

Twitter's head of brand strategy, Josh Grau, has high expectations for this Super Bowl based on the availability of ad products that weren't in the market a year ago, like promoted tweets in mobile app users' tweet streams and interest-level targeting. (Facebook declined to comment on its Super Bowl strategy.)

Last year the focus among Bowl advertisers on Twitter was bidding on keywords likely to be searched for during the game and promoting tweets in searches of those terms. While Mr. Grau expects that brands will continue to have "a hardcore arm wrestle" over hot keywords this year, he expects interest to shift to promoted tweets that can appear in the streams of segments of Twitter users, such as football fans.

Not every brand is intent on making a deep investment in social ads. Lincoln's Global Director Matt VanDyke noted that while promoted tweets were used to help draw attention to Mr. Fallon's campaign, the automaker went into it with the belief that his celebrity was their most powerful marketing tool. "That was one of the key selection criteria with Jimmy: We wanted to do it as organically as we could," he said.

Lincoln decided to focus less on game-time to capture attention as early as possible, starting with the announcement of Mr. Fallon's involvement, so as to grab people's attention when fewer marketers were vying for it. "Everybody's got the second screen going on, and [the game] is going to be a really crowded space, " Mr. VanDyke said. "People [watching] are going to be overwhelmed."

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