Twitter upping its game as Super Bowl advertising frenzy strikes again

Every year, hundreds of millions of people get very excited about the Super Bowl. And every year, a smaller, but still significant number of people get even more excited about the breaks in between play. Super Bowl advertising frenzy is upon us again. But, as CNBC report, advertisers are taking advantage of the second screen phenomenon by directing viewers to hashtags rather than websites of Facebook pages, in the hope of driving conversations. Thousands of them.

As an example, VW are regular Super Bowl advertisers and they have turned to humour in 2013 with this spot.

At time of writing, two days before the match game, this has garnered nearly 5 million views – not bad for a time-specific ad that hasn’t been shown yet. However, the social aspect is clearly not without its risks: VW have not currently bought promoted Tweets on its own hashtag at the moment by the looks of things, which means that the top tweet, in my feed anyway, currently asks “Is VW’s #gethappy ad racist?”

Advertisers in this country could learn a lot from the mass-hype approach to Super Bowl advertising. My advertising research colleagues at Ipsos ASI are always surprised at the lack of social media chatter that the vast majority of ads produce; but event-driven or time-specific ads can often drive buzz – this really taps into the “second screen” ethos as people can feel they are talking to people who are involved in the same event, at the same time. Hashtags also make “competitive” comparisons between the social impact of ads very easy – social media listening researchers and monitoring technologies can compare the reach and spread of conversations in a very simple way, particularly if the ads are driving consumers towards a specific hashtag.

Facebook’s relatively sophisticated advertising platform makes best use of the personal data it collects – both demographic and behavioural – to produce highly targeted ads. I’m still surprised at the extent to which I find myself nodding my head at some of the products targeting me – it really does predict my preferences well (it’s not perfect; my fiancée gets rather agitated at the volume of dating ads that are sent my way). But to me, Twitter still seems primitive as an advertising platform. Demographic targeting will surely help and, like Facebook, they are starting to look at how a person’s persona can be gleaned from the content of their tweets to make a social media behavioural profile. When they crack this, keep an eye on the company’s market value, with an IPO strongly rumoured for next year.

Second screen continues to grow at a dramatic pace. The boundaries between TV and the internet are continually being broken down in other ways; 20% of us now access the internet via TV, usually a games console, according to the latest wave of the Ipsos MediaCT Tech Tracker. But time will tell whether brands manage to take advantage of the truly multimedia world, in all senses, whilst providing us consumers with a better all-round digital experience.

As for the Super Bowl itself? No second screen for me. I’ll probably drift off to sleep midway through Beyonce’s Marcel Marceau impression!

Eoghan O’Neill is social listening analyst at Ipsos MORI. He tweets at @EoghanLondon and blogs occasionally.