Another year, another chapter of America’s favorite football game in the books. Although the Super Bowl may have been far from competitive, a record 115.5 million television viewers tuned in to watch the Seahawks defeat the Broncos for their first NFL championship. That makes this year’s game not only the most watched ever, but the most viewed television event ever. Those weren’t the only record numbers to come out this week, though. While the riots wind down in Seattle, let’s take a glance at a few things we can learn from this year’s Super Bowl.
Second Screen Surges
The Super Bowl has long been the premier second-screen event, and this year didn’t disappoint. According to Twitter, 24.9 million tweets were shared over the four-hour span of the game (another record). It’s important to note that these numbers do not include retweets, favorites, or replies, while Facebook’s do. Their line: Over 185 million interactions (including likes and comments) from more than 50 million people over the 24-hour period. So, as it tends to usually be, weighing the two against each other is somewhat apples-to-oranges.
That won’t be the case next year, as Facebook announced before the game (via an aptly-timed blog post) that it would be making its long-awaited foray into social TV analytics with Chatter. What, exactly, will Chatter be? Hard to tell at the moment. We’ll know more when the first white paper is released later in Q1 of this year. Still, it’s safe to say that our attention is being diverted to the digital discussion at an alarming rate. We’ve arrived at the age where the discussion surrounding an event has become just as important, if not more, than the event itself. But what are all those people discussing?
To Pay or Not to Pay
In a win for football purists, the conversation spiked around the game itself with 381,605 tweets per minute coming after Percy Harvin’s 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That’s up 42% from last year’s Super Bowl peak during Beyoncé’s half-time show, and 25% higher than the recent reaction to Miley’s twerking fiasco at the 2013 MTV VMA’s. That mind-numbing rate of growth explains why Facebook is so eager to become a real-time conversation hub.
Of course, football was far from the only topic being bounced around. Commercials, the long-time potatoes to the Super Bowl’s steak, were also discussed. Showing an increase from last year, 57% of commercials featured a hashtag this year. Radioshack, in an unexpected surprise, saw the highest spike among those who purchased a spot. Their '80s-inspired store redesign announcement garnered 22 times more social mentions than average.
For the second-straight year though, the most talked about brand was one that didn’t bother to buy a commercial at all. JCPenney saw a 25 times average jump in mentions thanks to convincing the crowd their social media manager had a little too much to drink when it really was just #TweetingWithMittens. Surging off the success of Oreo’s infamous blackout tweet last year, brands are realizing that a strong real-time presence is a completely viable strategy - and comes at a fraction of the cost. A well-timed message lobbed from a social media “War Room” can pay off big by striking the right chord.
Does that mean brands should jettison their current strategy in an attempt to go viral? Definitely not. A video from Adweek perfectly captures how brands should continue to pursue “enhanced TV” by marrying rich content with a deeper experience. Unilever is a perfect example of this approach. Their 30-second Axe commercial was supported with $500,000 in social media spending. They purchased the only Promoted Trend of the day, the most effective way to keep other brands from high-jacking their hashtag #kissforpeace. This two-pronged approach demonstrates the need for aligning traditional and digital strategies.
Pay heed, brands. Brands are able to use real-time advertising to reach a larger audience than ever before, so it looks like the second screen is here to stay.