Super Bowl Ads: A Unique Opportunity for Undivided Attention

As we watch this year’s Super Bowl of football and advertising, there is a big lesson we can learn from this high priced marketing spectacle. A poll reported by MarketingProfs says more of us would rather visit the bathroom during the game than the commercial breaks. The same poll says the commercials beat out the game, halftime show and even food as our favorite part of the Super Bowl.

This kind of undivided attention is amazing in our current cluttered advertising environment where some claim we see 5,000 ad messages a day. And even when watching TV, a Harris Interactive survey reports people also surf the Internet, read a book, magazine or newspaper, go on a social networking site.

Why are people surfing the Internet, reading books and engaging in social media? They’re searching for content they want to see and during the Super Bowl marketers who pay the $3.8 million manage to give them just that. MarketingProfs reports people say Super Bowl ads are funnier, more creative and more memorable than regular ads. And people watch them again online, share them via social media and even email links to them.

Despite these successes many marketers and bloggers write off Super Bowl ads as being not effective in selling products. But it’s hard to pass up the 180 million viewers – top prime time shows now only attract viewers in the hundreds of thousands. And Kantar Media claims last year’s game produced sales of $262.5 million for the advertiser while Abobe says Super Bowl sponsors get a 20% increase in traffic on their websites the day of the game and higher than average traffic after.

Whether you buy a Super Bowl ad or not, the lesson here is that people like quality content whether its an ad, TV show, game or video.This is the key insight to success for marketing in social media. You don’t buy attention, you attract it with quality content. without the huge media expense. For the most part, marketers are not used to thinking this way.

The bottom line is people choose to spend time with quality content and successful Super Bowl advertisers are acting more like content producers – creating the kind of ads that keep people in their seats. Perhaps the rest of us marketers should start thinking like this all the time. Maybe the best way to beat ad clutter is to stop trying to push and instead pull the consumer to you.

Why Does New Media Matter? Because United Breaks Guitars.

Consumers are creating their own content and marketers are monitoring their activity to react. New media has made the single voice a force to be reckoned with. Have you seen the YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars?” It is one man’s effort to get United Airlines to pay for the guitar their baggage handlers broke. It is up to 8.1 million views. On the best nights last fall the  Jay Leno Show pulled in 6.2 million viewers. And United Airline’s own magazine Hemispheres only has an annual circulation of 4.5 million.

Why does new media matter? Because Blending an iPhone on YouTube lead to a five-fold increase in sales for Blendtec. Because CEOs are communicating directly with employees and customers. Sun Microsystems CEO Blog gets 400,000 hits a month. Because the cable company is actually changing its image. Comcastcares is improving customer service by monitoring negative comments on Twitter and responding directly. Because in three days the American Red Cross raised $7 million for its Haiti relief efforts via text messaging.

What we’re really talking about is anything that promotes interaction (consumer to consumer, company to consumer, consumer to company) through digital technology. Is it all still new? Dot coms had their boom and bust over ten years ago. The FTC suggests a six-month limit on the use of the word new in advertising. So is it time for a new name for new media? I humbly suggest “Interactive Digital Media.”

New media is digital. And it matters because it is interactive.

It’s Activigital.