Real-Time Advertising a Staple of the Super Bowl

Facebook will, for the first time, sell ads targeting consumers based on what they’re talking about during the Super Bowl.

During last year’s Super Bowl – the most-watched television broadcast in American history, with more than 111 million viewers – Facebook targeted users based on demographics and likes. But the social media juggernaut has since added real-time targeting features, with which it will up its advertising ante on Sunday. Video ads will automatically play in users’ News Feeds, based on the words they post during the Super Bowl. Participating brands include Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Disney, McDonald’s, Toyota, and GoDaddy, many of whom have commercials airing during the game.

Real-time has always been seen as Twitter’s realm – consider the fact that people are still talking about the famous Oreo blackout tweet from Super Bowl XLVII – but it’s just as important for Facebook, says Allen Adamson, North America chairman of brand development at brand consulting firm Landor Associates.

“People live on Facebook in real-time, so for them, it’s a must,” Adamson says. “Part of the challenge is how to make sure you’re more relevant than ever.”

For Adamson, being relevant is about better listening, as well as being flexible. Anything can happen during a live event – a lopsided game can cause interest to taper off in the second half, for instance.

“It’s a very fluid event. Being able to go with the flow will separate the winners from the losers,” he says.

To keep up, 13 brands – including Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, American Family Insurance, and Pepsi, the halftime show’s sponsor – will be joining Twitter employees in live studios, as they’re known at Twitter, where the social network will be monitored during the game. The staffers will work with the brand marketers on tweets and targeting, as well as tweets during any unexpected moments.

In addition to Twitter, Pepsi will be partnering with Visa and advertising solutions company Delivery Agency to makes its halftime show shoppable.

H&M did the same last year, allowing consumers to purchase items from David Beckham’s clothing line through a mobile app. Pepsi will utilize Twitter’s buy button, as well as the ShopTV app that works with Roku- and Samsung-connected TVs.

During halftime, Pepsi and ShopTV will send out tweets with links to buy products related to the show, though Pepsi won’t confirm what just yet. The TV-watchers can use their remotes to check off merchandise. Via text message, they will then receive links to purchase using Visa Checkout. Additionally, consumers who use Shazam during the halftime show will see the shopping experience, which will be live until Tuesday.

“It looks like they’re trying to capture the population across a lot of different channels. I don’t know if they really have a coherent strategy for this; it just seems like they want to do a takeover,” says Jack Lowinger, chief executive (CEO) of Cartonomy, a platform focused on shareable online shopping carts.

Lowinger wonders if Pepsi is spreading itself thin, possibly diluting its message by being too many places at once. But, he notes, the soft drink giant is big enough that it can probably get away with it.

“The strategy, in and of itself, is brilliant,” he says. “It makes a lot of sense to do real-time and capture interest while it’s there.”

The Super Bowl will begin at 6:30 EST on Sunday, February 1. Check back for our live coverage of the ads.

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