Maybe you should think twice about spending all that money on a Super Bowl commercial, even if you have it

In this article, from Social Media Today, David Spitz, the COO and President of Rebel Mouse puts forth a convincing argument in an article called “Why Super Bowl Ads are Becoming Less Valuable in the Age of Social, Mobile Content Marketing.”

He writes:

In the social, mobile age, advertisers really need to think twice about the desirability of a Super Bowl spot – even when money is no object. If focusing on at least one other screen while “watching” TV is now the new normal, for how much longer will people continue to claim that the Super Bowl is the one exception to modern audience behaviors?

Combine this with the fact that, for purpose-led products and challenger brands, disrupting the Super Bowl puts them just where they want to be – in the stands with the real fans, not in the luxury boxes with the over-the-top commercialism of the NFL – and you have to believe that the Super Bowl ad market is a bubble that’s about to pop.

Spitz has some definite good food for thought. He cited three methods of content marketing that brands used to bypass the traditional TV commercial.

Method #1: Social Conquesting

Volvo was one of the brands that proved that a marketer could score without spending a dime of their TV budget. The brand cleverly hijacked social conversation during their competitors’ Super Bowl spots by giving away Volvos to lucky football fans tweeting with the hashtag #VolvoContest. Dubbed The Greatest Interception ever, the campaign exploited the achilles heal of TV advertising – people doing something else during the commercials (be it messing around with social media, grabbing a beer, or going to the bathroom) – to great advantage.

To help marketers bring scale to these types of tactics, Facebook – which by the way has a lot more engaged audience members than the Super Bowl – this year offered advertisers the ability to digitally target people who posted on game-related content. (Twitter has been offering TV-connected conquesting for a while.)

Method #2: Video Counter-Programming

Prior to this year, YouTube had accepted its position in the background of the Super Bowl, silently enjoying the spoils of the night (last year, Big Game ads were viewed 379 million times on the platform). This year, however, Google’s video unit decided to come out swinging with the YouTube Halftime Show, starring a large cast of YouTube powerhouses like Freddie Wong and Epic Meal Time, eager to steal the ball from Katy Perry’s official show.

It was an understatedly bold move for the platform. Few brands, publishers, or TV networks have ever dared to take on greatest show on earth, and for good reason. In 2014 Bruno Mars’ halftime show with The Red Hot Chili Peppers garnered a bigger audience than the game itself.

But YouTube had an ace up its sleeve. Last year, people watched 6.3 million hours’ worth of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, the equivalent of watching every NFL game in history 138 times. So in other words, the online channel was already getting huge amounts of traffic from people interested in watching TV ads, but not on TV. Why not keep them around a little longer?

Method #3: Digital-First TV Campaign

After a great showing with last year’s If We Made It campaign, NewCastle launched its 2015 campaign with a digital video featuring the uber-sarcastic Aubrey Plaza inviting other marketers “to blow their marketing budgets together” – on a single co-funded spot. The call to arms and subsequent making-of videos garnered millions of views online even before the main event.

Dubbed Band of Brands, the social media-led activation cast Newcastle as the leader amongst this group of underdogs that included McClure’s pickles, Rosarita beans and Jockey boxer briefs.

The end result was a hilariously messy amalgamation of over-the-top product placement. Of course, they weren’t actually allowed to air the spot nationally — Anheuser-Busch InBev retains exclusive advertising rights during the Super Bowl. But regional spots were up for grabs, and Newcastle and their partners took advantage.

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