Op-Ed: Brands Score Big Using Social on Game Day

By Kiran Aditham Comment

Our Super Bowl-related submissions continue to roll in, and today, we veer from the party scene to the social one as Brian Cavoli, an MPG/Carat alum who currently serves as director of marketing at WOM shop BzzAgent, discusses social media measurement come game time.

Social media gets a lot of attention this time of year. Early in January, every social media guru shares predictions for the year about what’s ahead for Google+, Facebook and the next great social sensation. Now at the end of the month, Super Bowl advertisers take over with talk about video contests, ad hashtags and Facebook games to extend the life of their message beyond their 30 seconds of glory in the big game.

30 seconds during the Super Bowl goes by fast and it can be easy to miss. Especially if nature calls, or if a chipful of con queso dip spills on your friend’s new sofa (sorry Steve). Advertisers need to make sure their 30 seconds are memorable. But being memorable is hard. Looking at Nielsen’s Top 10 most-recalled Super Bowl ads for each of the last four years shows just how little people remember.  Just four companies – Doritos, Budweiser, GoDaddy and Pepsi – made up 75 percent of the memorable ads during this period. That’s tough competition, kinda like the New England Patriots of advertisers.

So getting people talking about the brand at the water cooler and online across social media is key to making this investment pay off. But how is that payoff calculated?  Any marketer spending $100,000 a second for an ad has some very sophisticated measurement practices in place to determine its business impact. Most are probably using Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) analysis from Nielsen or other specialists to determine the sales, profitability and ROI of the investment.  Effective marketing is a science and brand managers know exactly what every moving part of their plan is doing to drive sales… except one.   And it’s the one they are relying on to justify the cost for most expensive ad in history.

Social media is often alone in the backfield.  It’s one of the most influential marketing tools there is, yet it isn’t being measured accurately by most marketers.  Everyone tracks “Likes”, fans, followers, retweets, and of course “engagement”. But what does all that really mean? It just represents value. They aren’t financial metrics businesses need to make strategic decisions.  It also makes it impossible to compare social’s impact on the business apples-to-apples with other media.

Social doesn’t have to be an exception. If you use social to help drive sales, it can be measured. BzzAgent has been working with measurement companies including Nielsen, Genpact and Foresight ROI to feed social marketing into the same MMM studies used to evaluate all marketing.  Looking at the results from over 20 studies for leading CPG brands,  we’ve seen on average that social marketing returns an average of $1.50 for every $1 spent. That’s an impressive return. In some cases, the ROI has been as effective as anything in the brand’s marketing mix.

All advertisers know they need an integrated marketing strategy.  Consumers interact with each other and with brands on multiple screens, often at the same time.  We’ll see that more than ever this year since the television broadcast of the game will be streamed online for the first time. Talk about a tweeting paradise. Marketers need to remember that an integrated measurement strategy that includes a financial analysis of social media must go along with it.

If they do, marketers will find that an investment in building social media discussions around a Super Bowl ad will benefit them in two ways.  Not only will the consumer discussions help make the ad more memorable, the investment will shine with a very profitable ROI.

Brian is the director of marketing for BzzAgent, a division of the global shopper marketing leader dunnhumby. Brian has a deep background in social media and interactive marketing. Prior to BzzAgent, Brian led marketing and lead generation for the social media measurement firm Cymfony. Brian started the search engine marketing group in the U.S. for MPG Media Contacts and he created the Innovation Engine, an emerging technologies initiative at Carat.  He has also held marketing management positions at Monster.com and Instant Information.  Brian’s teams have won the Grand Prix Award for Innovation by the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) and MediaWeek’s Media Plan of the Year for “Best Use of Internet”.