9 Tech and Digital and Social Elements to Watch at #SB49

Super Bowl XLIX is here and this year’s game in Glendale, Arizona will be the most digitally and socially active, and activated, ever. [Yes, we’ll be writing the same thing about next year’s Super Bowl, and so on.]. University of Phoenix Stadium is equipped to handle it, while media and advertisers are chomping at the bit. Whether you’re reading this before or after the big game, here are nine digital, tech, and social media elements to watch for at the big game this year. [Besides being extra vigilant of the Patriots sideline]:

1) Real-time segmentation of fans and marketing

Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, are seeing huge spikes in activity and engagement during big games and brands are reacting. By segmenting and targeting fans talking about or searching about the game in real-time, advertisers can know they’re reaching the same fans watching the game, and ads, on TV. Also, I won’t elaborate here, but the preparedness of brands for real-time marketing opportunities is always worth watching during big sports events.

2) Narrative and native advertising

As fans are glued to their TV, and their devices, for the four-plus hours comprising the Super Bowl, the opportunity for brands to tell stories through their ads and/or extending consumer engagement is ripe, but not often executed on. In last year’s Super Bowl, 91% of fans used their smart phones during commercials. Whether it’s telling a story on TV, across channels, across days, we can certainly watch for brands engaging fans throughout the game, and then some.

3) Mobile fan engagement – at the venue, at home

During last year’s Super Bowl, 59% of fans used their smart phones during the game, so mobile devices are very much a part of the game experience for fans. That number will likely be higher this year and, as proliferation grows, a trend to watch will be what, exactly, fans doing on their devices? Are they using messaging apps to correspond with friends, sharing content on Facebook or Twitter, watching video highlights on websites or YouTube, commenting on Facebook and Instagram, posting their snack setup on Instagram and Pinterest, and Snapchatting, well, everything along the way? Let the data start to divulge some insights during this year’s big game.


4) The platforms – which social nets win?

Twitter and Facebook are game, as always, Tumblr is making a run, YouTube is ready, and there will no doubt be a live Snapchat story on Super Bowl Sunday. But which social network will Monday Morning Quarterbacks be lauding before, during, and after the game? There will be no single answer, but there will be data, discussion, and healthy debate!

5) Lots of data, but what is it doing?

During the Seahawks-Panthers game earlier this NFL postseason, the Seahawks reported that 2.7 terabytes of data were processed on its venue’s network. It’s also notable that, oftentimes during games’ biggest plays, the number of uploads exceed downloads. Fans are doing a lot and, during the exciting times, are sharing out what they’re witnessing. So how is the mobile experience being integrated into these trends? It’ll be something to watch – should mobile be more about watching replays and unique camera angles or about communicating and consuming and sharing content?

6) Battle for iPhone vs. Android, upload vs. download

That same Seahawks playoff game saw an astounding 2-to-1 ratio of iPhone-to-Android users among fans using the WiFi or DAS networks on their mobile devices. While this split is telling, in particular, about fans living in the greater Seattle area, for the most part, the Super Bowl will offer an insightful look into a unique fan base of rich, famous, and otherwise influential attendees of the big game. Maybe this crowd will be rocking their Windows Phones?

7) Ad Activations

While I love the football just as much, many fans eagerly anticipate the commercials that run during the Super Bowl even more than the game. The huge audience that annually keeps their eyes peeled on commercials, with their mobile device in-hand now too, is an opportunity for brands to activate that second screen with calls-to-action on TV. It may be extended content, a contest/sweepstakes, or even where to find more info about a deal or product; the best brands want more than just a view of their commercial – they want action. But, with just 46% of consumers expected to engage with ads they see on TV during the Super Bowl, something to watch will be which brands are successful with engaging ads. [There is another discussion to be had with teams and media activating sponsors with mobile content]

8) Data collection efforts [beyond those logged into stadium WiFi]

Brands and teams are getting increasingly savvy when it comes to making the most of their ad spending. There are countless methods to make sure fans that engage with your brand, in any way, are accessible after the day of the big game. Some of the ways to watch include: entering a sweepstakes [Twitter cards may help], getting a website visit [where a re-targeting pixel can be fired], a newsletter subscription, a coupon download/redemption, and so on. This is where E-surance’s promo shined last year.

9) Fantasy, gambling, gaming

It would be an understatement to say that it has been a banner year for the growth of fantasy, from the normal year-long leagues to the burgeoning weekly versions, with revenues, payouts, and investments in the millions. The DraftKings of the world may have a record week surrounding the Super Bowl and the potential value to pro sports leagues will become even more apparent. Also worth considering, it is these early success stories (FanDuel, others, too) are getting the data/info of the most dedicated fantasy gamers. Betting, both online and offline, will be as big as ever, too. Will leagues seek their stake in gambling and gaming? The direction may become more urgent or more visible after Super Sunday.

There’s plenty more to watch in the digital and social space at this year’s Super Bowl. The field is ever-changing, evolving, and advancing. What will you be watching at this year’s big game?

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