The Super Bowl has come and gone, but the advertising lives on as brands seek to squeeze as much as possible out of their expensive creative masterpieces. But if advertisers want to truly validate their media buys beyond simply “entertaining the masses” they need to activate the 50 percent of smartphone owners that use their devices while watching TV on a daily basis. Our review of how well Super Bowl advertisers actively engaged with the audience shows there is a lot of work to be done.

The first problem was that nearly 31 percent of this year’s $4 million-per-minute Super Bowl ads failed to use any form of mobile or digital call-to-action in an attempt to engage audiences. This is even more inexcusable when advertisers know that Super Bowl viewers are actually anticipating the commercials as a part of the event. Thanks to mobile technology these television spots are both a direct path to one-on-one engagement with audiences and can actively validate the efficacy of the media buy. If advertisers want to get their money’s worth, they will have to rethink first and second screen engagement strategies going forward.

The reigning “first screen” -- television -- clearly still has its place in the lives of consumers and advertisers' marketing plans. Even with the emergence of on-demand programming and streaming services, primetime TV still offers a meaningful way to engage consumers offline and online. But this medium can’t stretch beyond the living room, and therefore, cannot be the primary host to the modern web user’s increasingly mobile and social life.

Much of the content we engage with today is about us or our direct networks -- exemplified by the fact that almost 70 percent of mobile phone owners between the ages of 18-29 access social media on their devices according to Pew Research. Advertisers who limit their campaigns solely to the TV screen will find themselves missing 80 percent of the funnel -- but mobile devices are a different story.

How to take advantage of this shift in user behavior?

Whether or not one agrees that mobile is destined to be the “first” screen for delivering and consuming content, it is growing as a crucial channel for advertisers and is rapidly becoming the linchpin of entire campaign strategies. eMarketer predicts that by 2017, mobile will account for nearly four of 10 global digital ad dollars. Audiences are acting mobile first, so brands must behave mobile first.

So how do brands reach audiences effectively through mobile? Not all audience activation efforts are created equal. Tucking a lone “Like us on Facebook” into a commercial or print spot no longer qualifies as “social media integration.” Successful campaigns aren’t those that treat audiences’ close relationships with their mobile devices and social media as an afterthought, they’re the ones that prioritize those things during upfront planning. They then get customers involved, interacting with the audiences in real time and on a one-to-one basis. And they gauge their success beyond Nielsen ratings or impressions.

Smart advertisers look for new ways to tap into existing enthusiasm by giving fans even more to be excited about -- and turn untapped enthusiasm into measurable behaviors. They make it easy for fans to connect to new content and activities related to their favorite movies and programs -- all from their smartphones. Take the NFL -- they use TV to activate app-loving audiences by directing football fans to “call **NFL” from their mobile devices -- and gain access to special second screen-specific mobile content. To date, over half a million fans have connected to NFL mobile via **NFL. This use of already-purchased TV time makes the most of already existing behaviors, as well as increases desired consumer behaviors, such as app downloads.

Stop thinking in terms of media 'channels'

For far too long, most marketing mediums have been treated as separate, not integrated sources to build a brand with consumers. Mobile and TV are no exception, and must work together in order to keep up with customers. Agencies that have created mobile- and TV-specific teams will find themselves left behind.

It’s important to remember than when deciding to integrate offline and mobile, mobile shouldn't be just one component on a to-do list. It should act as a link that takes the consumer from one campaign channel (e.g., commercial) to the ultimate destination (such as an app download, video or online store) -- but how? One of the simpler and more obvious ways is to include custom calls to action on each channel -- broadcast, print, email, web, etc. -- directing shoppers to their cell phones where they can execute a quick, easy task that then transports them from point A to point B.

Aside from simply getting them to your intended destination, this is a great way to let customers opt in to opportunities to receive brand-related goodies such as promos and discounts, as well as to allow their data to be shared across channels for a more personal, individualized approach. Mobile amplifies the efforts of every other channel and makes the connections between them. No matter where customers see the call to action, they'll go right to their phones and take action.

Consumers today blur the boundaries between online and offline -- which means advertisers have to as well. Consumers can now (and must be able to) connect with brands whenever they want in whatever way they choose. With mobile as the central strategic touch-point, brands can learn more about customers than previously possible, understand which media works, while consumers can engage brands in ways deemed unimaginable a couple of years back -- a win-win situation!

Editor's Note: Read more of Ashley's thoughts on mobile marketing in 4 Reasons Your Mobile Channel is Falling Behind and How to Get Back on Track