Touchdown! Get ready for a digital milestone on Super Bowl Sunday

Anna Bager

Anna Bager

By Anna Bager, senior vice president, Mobile and Video, IAB

NBC’s announcement last week of Superstream Sunday, in which it will make available 11 hours of free streaming on laptop/desktop including the Super Bowl, pre and postgame shows, the half time extravaganza kicked off by Katy Perry as well as the midseason premiere of The Blacklist, shows just how radically the media landscape is evolving — and that digital video is playing more of a prevalent role.

Not only will this move by NBC draw potentially millions of new viewers to the game who normally shun television, but it will also provide a unique opportunity for Super Bowl advertisers to reach “cord-cutters” and cross-screen media multitaskers. NBC has said the ads shown will be a mix of some of the same ads seen on the TV broadcast with other original ads created specifically for the digital audience.

Here are just a few other changes for the big day of Super Bowl XLIX:

  • The NFL is clearly embracing digital video beyond the Super Bowl itself, having just announced a new channel devoted to the game on YouTube.
  • Viewers who may not be avid football fans but who want to watch the TV ads that will appear during game day will be able check them out in near-real time on a dedicated NBC Tumblr page.
  • Don’t want to watch the official halftime? This year you’ll be able to livestream YouTube’s own halftime show. Shot in YouTube’s LA studio, it’ll feature stars such as Freddie Wong and Harley Morenstein of EpicMealTime doing a mix of sketches, fake Super Bowl ads and musical numbers — yet another digital video advertising opportunity.

What’s going on here? In all of this you see intent by publishers and advertisers to amplify their content and make it accessible through multiple screens.

Now they can reach hard-to-find viewers, who use a dizzying mix of different devices and platforms, and who have varying interests outside the big game. Don’t forget that last year viewers spent nearly 6.3 million hours just watching Super Bowl ads on YouTube before, during, and after the event.

Clearly, the advertising content surrounding the Super Bowl is just as important as the content of the game itself, as well as halftime.

One main watershed milestone to bear in mind: On Super Bowl Sunday, digital will be taking a page from traditional TV by asking users to partake in the content at an appointed time, rather than on-demand. Normally with digital we don’t know the when.

Only an event with the power of the Super Bowl could achieve this. It is one of the few events left in our culture that is required, by-appointment viewing for millions — last year 111.5 million people tuned in — for the game, half-time and ads. So it’s about looking at the event’s content in its entirety, whether the sport itself, a musical performance, or a great advertisement.

The advertising content surrounding the Super Bowl is just as important as the content of the game itself, as well as halftime.

It is crucial for advertisers to think over how they can best leverage this sea change. They know the when, but how can they make the most of a moment with potentially millions of viewers looking on?

Should they introduce an interactive story? Provide viewers with the opportunity to shop? Fill them in on their favorite athletes or comedians? Will they ensure that the digital-only ads tie in effectively with social media levers?

I’m sure we’ll see Super Bowl digital advertisements that consider these elements. But, one can only imagine what types of creative digital video marketing will be on the horizon for Super Bowl 2016. If marketers are ready to consider digital advertising as content that is as valuable as TV ads during Super Bowl, then the possibilities are endless.

Anna Bager oversees the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence and Digital Video Center of Excellence. Prior to joining the IAB, Bager headed up business intelligence at Ericsson Multimedia and head of research at Ericsson’s Business Consulting unit. She was named by Business Insider to the Most Important Women in Mobile Advertising in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at RDawn (@)


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