Twitter’s #BrandBowl Will Curate Super Bowl Ads and Dish Out Awards for Their Social Media Impact

New subscriptions seek to drive and measure engagement

Getty Images; Twitter

Twitter wants to be the top social media destination for this year’s Super Bowl—not just for the game and the halftime entertainment, but also for the biggest ads of the year. That’s why Twitter has created the first #BrandBowl as a place for advertisers and users can congregate and discuss the Super Bowl. The #BrandBowl will hand out awards for ads—including brands who don’t advertise during the game—that drive the most Twitter engagement.

Ryan Oliver, Twitter’s head of brand strategy for the U.S. and Canada, calls #BrandBowl the “first ever social subscription for users to get TV spots delivered to them on Twitter.” It’s a relatively simple mechanism. Users simply retweet a tweet from Twitter’s marketing account (@TwitterMKTG) any time after Jan. 29 to activate both a Twitter notification in real time when ads air and a link to a Twitter moment after each quarter with video of each of ad.

Since brands will likewise have to opt-in to have their ads included, Twitter can’t promise that it will show users every ad that airs during the Super Bowl. But it does offer cord-cutters, busy partigoers and Super Bowl ad fans an easy way to catch up with or rewatch the night’s most talked-about ads.

As a sweetener, there’s the Brand Bowl itself: a set of awards for the night’s best ads, as determined by Twitter engagement, which it will present Monday morning on BuzzFeed’s AM to DM talk show, conveniently hosted by Twitter.

These awards include MVP (highest percentage of all brand-related tweets), Blitz (most tweets per minute), Quarterback (most retweets) and Interception, an award for a brand without a national TV spot that drove the highest percentage of brand conversation. Special awards will also be given to brands with the most Twitter engagement in select categories: CPG, dining, entertainment, technology & telecommunications, automotive, alc-bev, home & healthcare, financial services, retail and travel.

Besides the spotlight, awards include 90-day use of a custom emoji, an insiders’ marketing survey and custom trophies for each brand’s headquarters, media agency and creative agency.

For Twitter, Brand Bowl capitalizes on a few important trends. First, it encourages Super Bowl television advertisers to reinforce their messages with a Twitter campaign. (Pepsi, which is presenting the halftime show, will be a key advertiser on Twitter this year, along with its subsidiaries.) At a little over $5 million dollars for a 30-second spot, a Super Bowl ad is an investment worth protecting.

Second, it cleverly gives advertisers sitting out this year’s Super Bowl’s TV broadcast multiple incentives to use Twitter during the Super Bowl to get noticed. An advertiser can hijack the conversation on Twitter to win the Interception award, landing Super Bowl attention without dropping millions of dollars.

Third, it leverages the fact that Twitter is one of the only social media networks that sees its active user base and engagement levels go up in the Super Bowl rather than down (a 19 percent gain in unique visitors, says Twitter, citing Comscore statistics). Finally, it recognizes and encourages the growth in Twitter video, both in overall consumption and as a component in Twitter advertising campaigns.

A few years ago, said Oliver, “video might have been a small component of an overall campaign,” usually requiring an embed or sending a user off-platform. “What we’re seeing now, even compared to a year ago, is that video is the foundation of these campaigns.”

Oliver expects this trend to accelerate, as advertisers take advantage of Twitter’s real-time video capabilities, as well as deploying more short-form video content, either to reinforce a television message or as a digital-specific campaign.

“Brands are going to use 30-second spots to create six-second content. We certainly know that Twitter is a great place for that six-second content to live,” said Oliver.

As for “social subscriptions,” Oliver sees a future role for that on Twitter as well. “This is a mechanism for users to say, ‘Hey, I’m interested in this, send me more content,” he said. “We could see this being used for other big tentpole events.”

The Olympics, the Oscars, elections—all experienced as a blend of real-time notifications and summary videos, with the subscription expiring as soon as the event is over—it’s natural to imagine the possibilities. But the debut will be for the biggest game of all.