Since the 1970s, the Super Bowl has been known as the granddaddy of all TV advertising opportunities, with companies ponying up huge bucks and devising elaborate and outrageous ads designed to stick in consumers’ heads long after they air. Increasingly, advertisers are seeing the Super Bowl as the granddaddy of all advertising opportunities on all channels, and tweaking ad design accordingly.

According to 1-to-1 Media, this year’s Super Bowl advertisers will use geolocation, social media and near-real-time content to extend the reach and value of ads beyond TV. For example, while close to 25 percent of Super Bowl ads in 2012 did not feature any kind of social media crossover (such as Twitter hashtag, QR code, etc.), that percentage is expected to be substantially smaller this year.

And some advertisers are expected to bring location-based services, such as sending targeted offers to consumers based on their geography, to their Super Bowl ads this year. In addition, 1-to-1 Media predicts some advertisers may try to build content around important plays shortly after they happen, citing an AT&T campaign during the 2012 Olympics that featured a gold medal performance from US swimmer Ryan Lochte moments after it happened.

Partially as a result of social media conversations that pop up throughout the Super Bowl and partially as a result of the Super Bowl losing its historic status as a dull, blowout game, advertisers are less resistant to running ads late in the game than they used to be. Although ads still get cheaper as the game progresses, AdAge reports in both the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowls, the most-watched ads occurred in the second half of the game.

This year, Allstate and Coca-Cola are even running big ads right after the game ends. Coke’s ad will include an ending chosen by viewers via social media during the game, demonstrating how social media and gamification are shifting the traditional rules of buying ads during sporting events which say the earlier, the better. 

Is the Money Well Spent? 

Yahoo Finance reports Super Bowl ads will cost close to US$ 4 million for a 30-second spot this year. That begs the question of whether the expense is worth it. The answer appears to be “usually.” About 111 million people are expected to watch this year.

And although more than 40 percent of the dotcom companies that advertised during the legendary “Dotcom Bowl” in 2000 were bankrupt within a year, the collapse of tech stock prices probably had more to do with it than one-time ad expenditures. Yahoo Finance also cites two struggling dotcom companies that experienced enough of a post-Super Bowl ad lift to turn their businesses around -- E-Trade in 2008 and CareerBuilder.com in 2011.

According to SearchEngineWatch, companies that run Super Bowl ads experience a 20 percent jump in site visits during Super Bowl Sunday and continue getting increased site traffic for about a week, further indicating the cross-channel value of Super Bowl ads.

You Need to Say Something 

An article in the Washington Post reminds advertisers that a winning cross-channel Super Bowl ad needs more than slick production values and a few cheap laughs to go viral and obtain the full benefits of cross-channel exposure.

Flush with huge marketing budgets, they are turning their 30-second advertisements into 30-second entertainment clips, with potentially negative consequences for getting consumers to actually buy their products,” states the Post. “An ad needs to be entertaining to get you to watch, but it also needs to have informational content that convinces you to share it with others.”

The Post gives the example of a current viral video that is not even an ad -- a 9-year-old “Kid President” who urges the country to stop doing nothing. “What Kid President tapped into -- more so than any of the Super Bowl viral wannabes created with huge budgets -- is the sense that something has stalled in this country.”

Will any of this year’s Super Bowl ads dig into something hidden inside the consumer psyche, or will they simply offer the typical collection of buffoonish dudes, hot girls and unusually intelligent animals advertisers think appeal to the all important 18-to-35 male demographic. 

Pass the Mobile Video 

A recent CMSWire article about Super Bowl ads noted the importance of mobile video to modern TV advertising. Adobe Digital Index data predicts that mobile video viewing will approximately double on Super Bowl Sunday as it does for other major sporting events, on both tablets and smartphones.

This kind of traffic, Adobe said, raises the question of whether marketers should supplement their Super Bowl ad spend with online video directed toward mobile devices, or, if they can’t afford the US$ 3.8 million-per-30 seconds price tag of Super Bowl airtime, possibly use digital marketing instead.

The big bucks companies spend to air TV ads during the Super Bowl appear to still be money well-spent (though not always), but as sports content continues to spread across different channels and devices, the value (and therefore price) of having a 30-second TV ad may diminish in the near future.