It’s that time of year again. The online Superbowl party that Mullen started three years ago to celebrate the age of Twitter is well into development. If you remember, we began our annual project when there weren’t very many ad types on Twitter. In 2009, most of the industry was still like “huh?”
A few of us at Mullen, the kind folks at Radian 6, and some friends like Sally Hogshead and Lisa Hickey made the effort to get ad land excited. We launched what was then called Trash Talk from the Twitter Section, shared instructions for how to sign up for Twitter, and encouraged people to open accounts. Today it’s hard to imagine that Twitter needed an introduction as recently as three years ago.
Now here we are for our fourth anniversary and we’re excited to introduce some new features. For starters, we’ve made the site, brandbowl2012.com, more interactive. (Note that at this posting it re-directs to last year’s site.) For the first time, users will be able to compare brands head to head in a statistical showdown. Whose ads are getting more attention or more favorable reaction? Brandbowl knows.
We’ve isolated a box at the top of the page, held high by a digital fan, to feature the best tweets of the game. Post something particularly insightful or clever and you could find your tweet featured atop the stream for everyone to see.
Brandbowl 2012 also has some new data to share. This year’s analytics will track the geo location of tweets and also the gender of the participant. Might be interesting to see comparisons between the sexes when it comes to talking about Superbowl ads.
The mobile experience will be better, too. Let’s face it, there’s likely to be more people watching the game with a smartphone in hand than a laptop resting on their knees. You’ll be able to check live rankings and post instantly from your iPhone or Android. Given that it’s a site, not an app, it will work everywhere.
And finally, we’ve been approached by Billboard, which wants to get in on the action. So we’ve offered them the featured tweet board for the half-time show. Madonna better watch out. Billboard knows what it’s talking about when it comes to reviewing music and performances.
Once again, our partner Radian 6 is back with its sentiment data and analytics. And for the second year in a row Boston.com is hosting the site and helping to promote it. Given that Twitters active user base continues to grow and that social media advertising couch critics is an expanding population, we expect to get some pretty good data.
Hope to see you there. On brandbowl2012.com. Using the easy to remember hashtag #brandbowl. I know who I’m rooting for. The creative.
If you need a reminder or are interested in what this is all about, here’s a video recap of last year’s effort.
Journalism used to be about looking out your window on the world and telling people what you saw and then getting out on the street as fast as possible to report on what others saw. Now, it also involves looking in the mirror and telling the world, here’s some miscellaneous information about fabulous me. I’m in New Hampshire! I’m watching Mitt Romney! His hair is frozen in place and so are my toes! More later!
No doubt that the medium enables and invites even the most serious content creators to post any random thought at any given moment. And some do. But in many cases the culprits are the same alleged “journalists” we would see on TV (if we still got our news there) chatting away and making small talk while serving up fluff instead of conducting any real reporting.
But take a look at the journalists who know how to use Twitter – Jennifer Preston of the New York Times or her colleague assistant managing editor Jim Roberts come to mind – and you find reporters who make great use of the medium. Both of those journalists use Twitter to keep followers informed of important stories, to share useful and valuable content, and to call attention to articles from writers other than themselves. I often find interesting and relevant content from sources other than the Times by following Preston.
As a voracious consumer of news I consider Twitter the greatest contributor to journalism since Edward R. Murrow. In an era when most news organizations can’t afford foreign bureaus, it provides access to instant updates and content that reporters like Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin and NPR’s Andy Carvin use to make them better reporters. It enables ordinary citizens in parts of the world most journalists can’t get to, to provide updates and alert news organizations to everything from disasters to injustices. And, in the hands of smart, social media-savvy journalists who understand that content has to go to the reader, not necessarily the other way around, it’s an invaluable means of educating and enlightening the community.
Joan Vennochi is right in criticizing reporters who abuse the medium with incessant personal updates. But it’s important we don’t confuse the medium with the messages we sometimes find there.
The participants like to hear themselves talk instead of giving the audience real value. The moderator fails to prepare as much as he should. The audience gets more interesting content on their iPhones and the Twitter stream than they do from the panelists. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty often the case when I sit through panels. Heck, sometimes it’s the case when I sit on the panel.
So it was a pleasant departure from the norm this week when Mike Troiano, hosting a FutureM panel on the (yes I’m afraid so) “future of advertising,” had the foresight to realize the audience might want some arguing and disagreement.
Prior to the session he surveyed the participants, got us to respond to 10 statements (strongly agree to strongly disagree), then projected the answers one at a time on a large screen in front of the audience. Instantly the crowd could see where people stood on a topic and Mike could then engage primarily with those at opposite ends of the spectrum. As a member of the panel it was fun because you knew who to disagree with. And the audience got an instant sense of where people stood. If we all agreed or clustered toward one end of the scale we simply skipped over the question entirely and avoided turning into an echo chamber.
A simple technique I would strongly recommend that any moderator consider to energize their next panel and keep the audience engaged.
I will note that in this case the questions were a bit too generic. More challenging or provocative questions might have made for an even better conversation. It may have been better still if Mike had crowdsourced the questions from those who planned to attend.
Where you there? If so, what did you think?
It was only a year or two ago when TV advertising was on its way out, or at least down. DVRs, the web and new distractions such as Facebook were going to make old- fashioned advertising less relevant.
Well guess what? It’s just the opposite. As media gets more and more fragmented, TV remains the only truly scalable option. Want broad reach quickly? TV advertising is the way to go and the numbers are proving it. Spending is up, Super Bowl spots are selling earlier than ever, and more and more big brands are increasing their commitments.
While none of that is surprising, what’s worth noting is this. It might be the likes of Twitter that’s getting more people to tune into live TV instead of watching it later on-demand.
It wasn’t much of a revelation in January when Nielson and Yahoo let us know that 86% of U.S. mobile Internet users watch TV with their devices in hand. But when you consider that 40 percent say they’re using their devices for social networking, or take note of the fact that the Super Bowl inspired upwards of 4000 tweets per second during parts of the game, it becomes apparent that instead of steering people away from TV, social media — the desire to weigh in, converse, and see what your community has to say — is helping resurrect it.
Fast Company may have been right when they suggested that Twitter could be TV’s killer app, cross pollinating the stream with live programming to create a truly interactive experience.
So what does this mean for advertisers? Did things just get easier? Can we all go back to buying 30-second TV spots?
Not so fast. The fact that everyone’s on a device while they’re watching a program makes it less likely they’re paying attention to ads, unless, of course, those ads are equally engaging and encouraging conversation as well. The web, instant access to information, and a reliance on search might free marketers from producing boring, fact dominated messages, but even the most creative executions probably need a way to engage consumers, from something as simple as a hashtag, to a concept that is, ideally, more immersive.
While predicting anything these days is a pretty futile exercise — it was only eight years ago when Mel Karmizan assured us that Google would fail because it was fucking with the magic, referring to the relationships that dominated how advertising was bought and sold — here’s what I think we can expect.
Brands will create more complex forms of advertising
If we’re all to engage and talk about the advertising, it can’t be boring or limited to outbound messages. We need more interactive, conversation-inspiring ideas that invite our participation. Think Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion. More and more ads will include hashtags, start conversations and seek true consumer involvement, extending the story beyond the thirty-second spot.
Integrated agencies will have an advantage
We’ve seen the trend toward specialized media, digital and social media agencies reach its zenith. It’s pretty hard to get all of these disciplines to work seamlessly together inside one company, never mind across multiple agencies. Granted there are exceptions, but agencies that unite creative, media (paid, earned, owned) and digital will prevail.
Marketers will have to master true engagement
Most marketers continue to enter social media as if it’s a cheap place to stick messages, whether on Facebook or Twitter. Why else is Facebook (and soon Twitter) making such an effort to educate brands on what to do after they’ve acquired all those like clicks? Even Old Spice forgot that about it’s million followers after so brilliantly attracting them all. If advertisers expect social media to generate interest in their TV spots, they’ll need to get better at adding value to the conversation. Hint: discounts won’t be enough to build real loyalty.
Earned and paid media will need to work more seamlessly
This will be a tough one for agencies (and brands) that don’t have social oriented PR divisions made up of people who know how to listen, engage and interact in real time, focusing less on cleverness and more on support, responsiveness and interaction. The trick will be how to combine the Facebook and Twitter paid efforts with genuine conversation that keeps people coming back and paying attention. Those that get it will retain more followers and convert them to advocates.
Twitter will finally go mainstream
Every media property, blog and website by now has a link to Twitter with the annoying request “follow us on Twitter.” The words alone suggest that the consumer wants to show up for no other reason than to receive updates or messages. But as more and more TV shows and advertisers invite participation and opinion via the micro-blogging platform, they’ll do as much to drive the familiarity with Twitter as Twitter does to keep live TV going.
It’s ironic that advertising, which resisted getting digital and social while enduring the criticism of its increasing irrelevance by those newer media platforms, should now be back in driver’s seat. Certainly keeps things interesting.
I was the last one to know. By the time I discovered my by-lined post (ghost-written by someone funnier than I) nearly all of my co-workers had seen it. Having gone most of the day without time for Twitter, I’d missed the fact that my doppelganger had, in a matter of hours, amassed 1250 followers and even caught the attention of Digiday editor Brian Morrissey.
The prank was brilliantly conceived and executed by some of the TNGGers at Mullen: twenty-somethings brimming with irreverence, fearlessness and no sense of corporate protocol whatsoever. Good thing they work in advertising.
Thirty-plus years ago when I was starting in the business I worked for an entrepreneurial computer company, Data General. As the company reporter and photographer I covered an employee celebration of DG’s 10th anniversary. One of the founders cut the cake and jokingly I suggested he feed it to the CEO for a little photo-op. The request was met with stunned silence. And three months later my boss actually brought it up as the reason why my performance review wasn’t perfect. That’s when I realized I needed to get out.
I like the fact that the new generation feels less intimidated than previous generations. And, I guess, I’m flattered that they think I can take it. Even in a forum as public as the world wide web.