Op-Ed: Super Bowl XLVI – The Year Social Media Changed the Game

By Kiran Aditham 

Our Super Bowl-related submissions continue to roll in, and today, we hear from Mr. Youth VP of marketing Christian Borges, who discusses his love for the game, ad meters and more.

I love Super Bowl Sunday. Especially when the #Giants are in it, but I digress. For me, it’s a day chock-full of friends, family, chips, dips, wings, beer, gambling and #smacktalk galore. It’s an opportunity to gather around the TV to watch what is arguably the single greatest sporting event of the year. Hard to believe that just 28 years ago, on January 22, 1984, more than 90 million people watched when Apple famously launched the Mac with a $1.5m, 30-second commercial that ran during TV’s biggest event, the Super Bowl.  Today you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody worth their salt who wouldn’t agree with the sentiment that when Ridley Scott created Apple’s iconic “1984,” it effectively changed not just advertising, but the Super Bowl viewing experience.


Just think — it only aired once.

In the years since, advertisers, viewers and–by extension–the NFL have collectively reaped the benefits in the wake of that moment. We (yes, WE) have actively collaborated and cultivated the paradigm shift of the Big Game viewing experience since that moment. Super Bowl advertising has become more than just big business (the average spot for the Feb. 5 broadcast on NBC sold for $3.5 million), it’s become a science that’s spawned the likes of USA Today’s Ad Meter, which–since 1989–has ranked ads shown during the game based on the average ratings from a select panel of viewers, a group that this year will number approximately 300 people. Yup.  The media industry lives and dies by the results of the the Ad Meter, which has become the accepted gold-standard for validating the millions of dollars brands spend during the Super Bowl. That said, the focus group manner in which The Ad Meter has traditionally been conducted feels antiquated in this age of social TV engagement and second screen viewing. Marketing has evolved, driving a deeper, lean-forward consumer experience fueled by engagement, participation, and advocacy. Super Bowl advertising has become a game within the game, and the game is about to change.

In a nod of acknowledgement to the sign o’ the times, this year’s Super Bowl advertising rating system will include a USA Today partnership with Facebook on a co-branded app that features all the national ads that appeared during the game, along with a five-star rating button that let’s Facebook users judge, share, comment, and spread the ads — and their reactions — as they watch. Brand marketers will actually be able to view data culled from consumer responses from across multiple social media platforms in order to better understand the long-term impact of their spots and augment their marketing strategies – above and below the line – based on real-time intelligence. Imagine that!

Even NFL officials in Indianapolis are embracing social media this year by hosting the first-ever Super Bowl “social media command center,” a 3,000-square-foot venue where a group of NFL social media strategists, analysts and the like will monitor, analyze and optimize digital fan chatter across Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.

As for this year’s commercials? Based on what I’ve seen in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, unlike last year, I’m actually optimistic that this year’s crop will be more entertaining, humorous and yes – “social.” Most brands have already shown more than just a “lil’ leg” with regards to leaking their Super Bowl spots and driving views, shares and discussion around their content. It remains to be seen how they augment and capitalize on the buzz generated thus far, but with all the social tools at their disposal, the formula for success won’t be determined solely on the reactions of a panel of pre-selected viewers, but rather by the real-time actions of the masses.

Super Bowl XLVI Commercial Success:
#Hashtags gone wild: #GameDayPolarBears #SoLongVampires
Video Teaser Clips: May the force be with you. Broderick….? Broderick…?
Look ma – lots of shiny social toys: Shazam! GetGlue.

Enjoy the game! Go #Giants!