Nothing exemplifies “old media” mass advertising better than the multi-million dollar Super Bowl commercial. With the rise of niche targeting and social media made possible by the internet, this was the kind of profligate ad spending that was supposed to be extinct by now. Critics of “old media” have been predicting the demise of mass-market ads for years, yet NBC still sold out their spots for a record $206 million and many of us paid more attention to the commercials than the game. It appears the big TV commercial still reigns supreme, but on closer examination old media (TV) and new media (internet) may finally be learning how to work together more seamlessly.
For the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend of Super Bowl commercials that directed viewers to company websites. GoDaddy.com was one of the first to use this tactic effectively by making people go to their website to see the end of a story that began on TV. This year, the melding of Super Bowl ads and a corresponding web presence seems to have reached a tipping point. Denny’s, Jack in the Box, Hulu.com, Vizio, Pepsi, and GoDaddy all directed people to visit their websites. But simply sending people to a website doesn’t really take advantage of the two-way conversations made possible by the internet. Oddly enough it was Budweiser, the biggest and most extravagant buyer of Super Bowl ads that would launch a truly interactive social media platform to gather feedback from the audience.
Instead of just a website that continues where the commercials leave off, Anheuser-Busch, consulted social media maven Brian Solis and launched AB-Extras.com. Unlike the other sites, AB-Extras employs a variety of social media tools from YouTube to Flickr, aggregates the relevant information, and helps the A-B marketing team communicate and listen to audience feedback. Built on a blogging platform, Bud’s site encourages engagement instead of just “tricking” people into watching a longer commercial online.
I suspect this trend of using a “mass blast” commercial to jumpstart a social media conversation will continue, and it will be interesting to see if other companies adopt Anheuser-Busch’s more interactive strategy. If you believe the hardcore social media advocates, in a few years Super Bowl commercials might be little more than invitations to come chat with the company online.
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