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5 Big New Trends That Marketers Need to Know Before Sunday's Game

The year of the link
  • January 27, 2015, 9:19 AM EST
  • Sponsored

Illustration: Alex Eben Meyer

This Sunday is different from all other Sundays. Why? While many football fans typically don't pay close attention to commercials during the regular season, an expected audience of 110 million will gather this Sunday to analyze, appreciate and obsess over advertising. In the past, that would only play out on television. In 2015, however, viewers will watch this championship battle on smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming consoles as they simultaneously track the cultural conversation on social media.

For marketers, that knowledge means not only higher stakes, but also important data for the year ahead about how viewers are using devices to engage with content from brands. Fortunately, Adobe Digital Index (ADI) has distilled that data from the past few years into key insights we all should know about before kickoff. Here are the five trends they've identified that will impact the marketing world this Sunday.

1. Visual ads are dominating clicks
Whether brands are trying to expand their reach with a 30-second TV spot that costs $4.5 million or build an ad placement for a social network, ADI data shows that maximizing the value of that marketing investment comes down to creating gripping visuals. Images are by far the most popular component of Facebook posts. As well, Google shopping ads, which contain multimedia assets, are on the rise, accounting for 20 percent of all retail ad clicks in 2014 Q4.

2. Social distribution spend has become a more efficient traffic source as organic traffic dropped
While brands ultimately want to drive organic traffic, budgeting paid distribution to social networks and search engines on Sunday will be a smart way to get eyeballs on content. The top social networks have now become the gatekeepers of digital traffic, and as ADI shows, organic impressions have decreased 32 percent year-over-year and will continue to fall for the rest of 2015, as seen in the graph below. 

3. Alternative platforms are making digital video more appealing
Today, fans don't just watch football crowded around a television set. Over-the-top content platforms such as Apple TV and Xbox have taken a healthy chunk out of traditional TV engagement, now accounting for more than 10 percent of total viewership, according to ADI. These non-traditional media outlets could give brands a fresh way to reach their audiences with high-quality content.

4. Social posts containing links will be more popular than posts with only text
In terms of social media, 2015 could shape up to be the year of the link. In the graph below, ADI shows that posts with links are increasing 69 percent year-over-year, while text-only posts are decreasing at a rate of 77 percent year-over-year. Brands are offering interactive assets rather than static social posts because links can bring users to owned media platforms. If brands want to build relationships with their target audiences, this is one smart way for them to do so during the big game. 

5. NFL mobile traffic has hit record levels
On the field, the motto is go big or go home. But for fans at home, they're not going bigger; they're actually going smaller. In 2014, mobile Internet traffic firmly overtook desktop traffic, according to comScore, and approximately half of visits to advertisers on Sunday will come from mobile devices. The connection between major sporting events and mobile marketing is at an all-time high, and brands can take advantage of this trend by priming their content with purchasing capabilities compatible with digital wallet payment options like Apply Pay. Per ADI, 47 percent of consumers have used their mobile devices to make a payment with a digital wallet.

So as you're watching on Sunday, remember to watch out for these crucial trends. How audiences interact with the big game is constantly evolving. And to effectively tackle tough advertising decisions, marketers always need to be aware of how viewers interact their content.