This year’s Super Bowl ads cost, on average, $3.5 million. Anheuser-Busch alone has six different ads running during the game. “By the third quarter, we can see whether the commercials are getting similar, more or less, or different kinds of reactions than the ones earlier in the game,” says Tom Thai, vice president for marketing and business development at Bluefin. “By the end of the game, I’ll be able to shoot out basically the top-rated Super Bowl ads in terms of social media conversation.”
Bluefin captures more than 8,000 television shows on 200 networks—including the ads—and tracks social medial response to both programming and individual ad airings. (Most such comments are made on Twitter.) It also keeps track of about 10 million people who have commented on something on TV at least once per three months, to track the various things that inspire them.
ABC News, which organized the GOP debates in Iowa and New Hampshire, not only ran stories the next day discussing the responses on Twitter and elsewhere, but also monitored social media responses from a production pit behind the debate moderator on the night of the debate itself. Bluefin had provided the producers some live tidbits. A spokesman says ABC is in the early stages of working on ways to work such real-time feedback into its news broadcasts.
News organizations and advertisers are likely to start making real-time changes in response to social media in the near future, says Mike Proulx, senior vice president and director of social media at Hill Holliday, an ad agency in Boston. “We are rapidly moving toward a television world where the real-time Web will affect programming. We’re already seeing real-time tweets and Facebook posts integrated into live television events, and we’re just a stone’s throw away from a time when dynamic ad technology converges with television’s social media back channel,” he says.
Of course, advertisers are also starting to release their ads before the game, hoping to get people to watch and then share. For example, Volkswagen has gotten considerable social media traffic for an online teaser—of dogs barking out the Star Wars’ Imperial March theme—leading up to a presumed game-day reprise of its well-received ad last year featuring a boy in a Darth Vader costume.
And on game day, teams of employees from ad agencies will try to fuel the social media comments by replying to viewers’ posts and directing them to Facebook pages and online versions of their ads.