2015 Super Bowl TV Advertisers are Evaluating the Data Generated from Their Twitter Hashtags

Image by Ken Varnum

Image by Ken Varnum

A remarkable moment in modern advertizing occurred during the 2013 Super Bowl when the power temporarily went out at the Superdome stadium in New Orleans. Oreo cookies quickly put out a tweet with an accompanying photo that read “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” It has since been widely heralded as a spontaneous stroke of genius and proved to be incredibly effective across the Twitter-verse. The story of how this happened, including the actual tweet and graphic, were told in a concise report on CNET.com entitled  How Oreo’s Brilliant Blackout Tweet Won the Super Bowl by Daniel Terdiman on February 3, 2013. The story was widely reported elsewhere in traditional and social media venues.

Two years later, the 2015 Super Bowl itself ended in incredible drama. Neither any sports writer nor the NFL itself could have scripted a more improbable ending. Discussions of the final minute of the game broke out instantly across social and traditional and will likely continue on for years afterwards.

In addition to the hard lessons learned here about football strategy, about half of the sponsors of the game have also gained valuable troves of insightful data and the resulting analytics from the Twitter hashtags they included in their TV commercials. A very interesting and instructive report on this process was posted on SocialMediaToday.com on February 15, 2015, entitled How Advertisers Are Tracking Their Ad Dollars Using Hashtags: Lessons from the Super Bowl, by Tukan Das. I will recap, add some links, and commentary to this article. I suggest clicking through and reading it in its entirety for its detail and helpfulness. This story also tracks well with two other Subway Fold posts about the applications of Twitter data and analytics to  marketing and business development entitled New Analytical Twitter Traffic Report on US TV Shows During the 2013 – 2014 Season (July 31, 2014), and then Is Big Data Calling and Calculating the Tune in Today’s Global Music Market? (December 10, 2014).

For additional information on this topic, I recommend an earlier article entitled Half of Super Bowl Ads Had Hashtags by David Goldman was posted on CNN.com on February 2, 2015.  It contains an itemized list of all of the hashtags that were used. As well, just two days prior to the game, an article on AdWeek.com entitled Infographic: Will Super Bowl Advertisers Put Hashtags and Facebook URLs in Their Spots? on January 29, 2015 by Christopher Heine. The infographic it presents by StarStar, a mobile services company, depicts what value and audience reach advertisers get in return for purchasing a 30-second Super Bowl ad for $4 million. (See also the January 30, 2015 Subway Fold post entitled Timely Resources for Studying and Producing Infographics.)

According to the report on SocialMediaToday.com, the virtual “water cooler discussions” that occurred on Twitter around the advertisers’ hashtags embedded in their TV ads showed that users are now employing multiple screens to experience the game (the television screen and then at least one other computing device’s screen). These additional screens can be used to track and analyze the value per ad dollars spent while the advertisers evaluate their social media data in real-time rather than traditionally having to wait for TV viewing data to arrive. By further adding specialized demographic data into the mix, the advertisers can thus more deeply assess their data, scaling from in the aggregate level all the way down to the individual level. This gives advertisers the opportunity to observe and assess individuals “interacting with their brand” and pinpoint the “influencers” on Twitter among them. Furthermore, they can overlay an additional layer of data onto their contemporaneous hashtag analyses by using prior Twitter exchanges involving their audience in an effort to illuminate “brand affinity, preferences, and attitude changes over time”.

My questions are as follows:

  • What calculations and considerations are used when advertisers select their hashtags for advertising on TV and other media? Does Brand X use one hashtag for a certain media platform and/or audience than they do for another? Does Brand Y in the same market sector use a similar or different approach?
  • How, if at all, do geographic factors affect the choice of advertising hashtags? Will viewers and readers from one area of the US respond differently than another area to the same hashtag? Is there any difference in hashtag strategy from country to country or does the global nature of TV and the social media eliminate such considerations?
  • If a particular hashtag worked well for 2015’s Super Bowl, should it automatically be re-used for next year’s game or should marketing and content strategists re-evaluate their hashtag formulation and selection process?
  • Are advertising hashtags usually devised by a company’s internal marketing and analytics staff members or do they more often engage outside consultants for assistance with this?




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