Super Bowl advertisers blew it by not embracing mobile

The more I think about the insanity and hype surrounding the Super Bowl ads, the more I start to wonder if those advertisers get what is happening to this industry and how silly this kind of spend will seem in a short time from now.

The idea of spending that much money on an ad is uncontested and accepted today – it’s just what it costs to advertise during the Super Bowl. Years of incremental increase in cost and audience reach has put the price for a 30 second spot at $3.5 million. Am I the only one that looks at that number, looks at the ads and wonders why?

I only ask why because change has run laps around the Super Bowl ads. The world has passed at an incredible rate of innovation yet still we cherish the Super Bowl ads. The Internet has matured with real reach, real potential and real consumers yet we still covet the Super Bowl slot. Mobile has erupted and covered the planet in a sea of 6 billion small screens with incredible reach and frequency yet they still spend to reach only our living rooms. Why does it end there?

The spend aside, I guess the real issue is the lack of thinking about the “and then what” following the ad spot. There was engagement via Twitter and Facebook from mobile devices but I consider that ambient activity – casual as opposed to directed. The pure mobile engagement experience was just not there this year and that is unacceptable – especially when considering the cost and the record audience for the game.

There were ads where mobile was a part of their plan and almost half of the ads were Shazamable but the implementation seemed an afterthought. This is where advertisers need to start rethinking their strategy. We are in a new, less broadcast, more engage-capable world and the impact will be astounding for those that migrate and destructive for those that don’t. I’m keen on technologies that enhance the user experience – like Shazam – where, with the right vision, the right engagement and the right thinking, they can completely disrupt the traditional “pay for a slot” advertising model. Shazam already did it during the Super Bowl halftime show and will do the same during the Grammy’s.

Mobile is so ubiquitous, so accessible and so much a part of our habits now, companies can easily profile, target and display relevant content based on any input – be that ads or a television show or time of day. This will enable a lucrative secondary advertising network that will start affecting broadcasting revenue – including the ridiculous amount spent on the Super Bowl.

I’m really hoping that this is the last year we see these one-way ads adhering to an old-school way of business. Having Ferris Bueller or Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno shill is no longer a means to an end – we’ve grown up, they’ve grown old and the industry needs change. Something mobile will do whether they like it or not.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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