Super Bowl Sunday – which saw the Eagles bring home their first trophy – brought in an average viewership of 103.4 million for NBC. That makes it the tenth-most watched program in US television history. What was clear from the lead up to Sunday’s spectacle is that the rules of the ad game around one of the most coveted of all global media events is changing. It is rapidly becoming a completely different ball game.
Historically, the Super Bowl used to be the case that TV advertising stole all the limelight, standing center stage at the event captivating eyeballs all over the world with its funny or gut-wrenching ads, leaving every other media channel in the shadows.
Indeed, TV still dominates and the big game remains the one time of year that people want to watch advertisements, instead of avoiding them. Consequently, the NFL’s final match can command even more incredible fees for its highly sought after spots – research shows that ad spend soared 87 percent over the previous decade and for this year’s game advertisers now willing to pay more than $5 million for a 30-second spot.
Obviously, this is prohibitive for brands that don’t have the deep pockets of Amazon, Procter & Gamble (above), Budweiser or Coca-Cola (which all advertised on Sunday). But, the good news for smaller brands – especially the more daring, entrepreneurial, subversive brands – is that the mobile channel is increasingly offering a compelling way to get in on the action, without the hefty price tag.
There are a myriad of other reasons why mobile is chipping away at TV’s dominance of the Super Bowl and why marketers should take note. A primary one is that the number people in the U.S. who are cord cutters and don’t subscribe to traditional pay-TV services is growing, estimated to reach 63 million in 2018, a 72 percent increase since 2010, according to eMarketer. Looking to next year, and as this trend continues, which it is set to do – the Super Bowl’s hotly-pursued audiences will become more and more fragmented and more and more contained in their digital clusters.
This plays perfectly into the hands of mobile, which can reach audiences wherever they go. Also, with mobile, advertisers can communicate with fans on a much more personal level, and they can build up buzz before and after the event by leveraging social media pre and post the game. We saw many brands do this around Sunday’s event, such as Amazon, M&Ms and Pepsi, which all ran successful teaser campaigns. This is the future, and it’s a future that will favor the bold and brave, not just the deep-pocketed.
Creating bespoke, entertaining mobile content is a particularly robust strategy to grab the attention of the many casual viewers of the Super Bowl, not to mention the always-on younger demographics. The Super Bowl is popular with non-fans, with many viewers finding themselves at a Super Bowl party, but not necessarily glued to the big screen like some of their diehard football fan friends. For these audiences, the entertainment ethos of the Super Bowl will be vital in holding their attention and is something that the mobile channel can provide, and not only during the ad-break. An added advantage of mobile over TV is also the ability to actively interact with audiences.
That’s not all. Mobile is increasingly encroaching on TV’s stage because of the many ways that the NFL is now pushing access to its matches. Following a five-year deal with Verizon in December, fans can stream live games regardless of their mobile network. So, for the first time, the 2018 Super Bowl was streamed, free of charge, from anywhere on the globe, or watched later on-demand.
All this underlines the growing value of the mobile channel to the Super Bowl and why in 2019 advertisers must consider it seriously alongside — or, even, instead of — TV ads. The best training advice, therefore, for any marketers who want to win at the Super Bowl next year, with the new rulebook, is to use the next 12-months to hone and practice their mobile and agility skills.
Moshe Vaknin is CEO and co-founder of mobile ad platform YouAppi.