To my mind, the Super Bowl is unique for two reasons. First, it's the closest thing we have to a "shared moment" in the mass media these days. That in itself is unique, given the fragmentation of desirable audiences across multiple media. Second, the Super Bowl marks a temporary shift in attitudes toward advertising in general. People actually look forward to the commercials, and even though the attitudinal shift is temporary, it's still an opportunity. When else will so many people be receptive to commercial communication at the same time?
Not everybody can pony up the $2.6 million that CBS was asking for a :30, but not having an ad running is no excuse for twiddling one's thumbs on the sidelines. There are a number of tactical moves your brand can make now to capitalize on the frenzy surrounding the Super Bowl.
Be mindful of traffic spikes
With all the simultaneous media consumption (SIMM) going on in the U.S. these days, it's a given that sports sites, football-related search terms and sites like YouTube will see significant traffic spikes-- not just during the game, but before and after as well. If you're running with sports sites or within sports content on major portals, now is a great time to talk with sales reps about making sure you have an appropriate share of voice during the spike. It also makes sense for you to sit down with your search specialist to determine whether or not any sports search terms deserve emphasis over the weekend and thereafter. It also wouldn't hurt to place a phone call to whoever hosts your website to be sure your site or any other interactive assets they're hosting can handle an upswing in traffic.
Watch search buys closely
Without a doubt, your experienced competitors on the search side will be looking to capitalize on increased traffic in the coming weeks. If you use a bid management system, monitor your gaps closely and consider relative bid and positioning rules if you're looking to drive traffic to content or products that tie in to the Super Bowl or football in general. Also decide what limits you want to set and what you'd like to bid for content syndication programs like AdSense.
Given the increased interest in advertising, particularly humorous commercials or envelope-pushing spots, now is a great time to get additional viral mileage out of any such content you might be promoting. Have you been sitting on a funny ad or online brand piece? If so, it's critical that you work with online venues to make the most of the thousands of incremental people who will be seeking out Super Bowl ads and other new video content online.
While your spot might not run during the game, it might still be of interest to people looking for this type of content. Sites like YouTube can work with marketers to bring such content to the forefront, such that it gets noticed more easily. Call your rep to see what types of programs might be executable before the big day.
It's also very important to make sure your content is tagged appropriately.
Watch out for copyright infringement
Speaking of social tagging, it's important to be sure you're not infringing on anyone's property in executing any of the suggested tactics above. The people who own the rights to the Super Bowl are very protective of the brand, and any attempts to conduct unauthorized tie-ins are usually met with cease and desist letters. Thus, I wouldn't suggest tagging, SEO or other tactics that use words like "Super Bowl" to imply a connection where none exists. Choose your words carefully.
You may have decided that $2.6 million is too expensive for a single TV spot, but that doesn't mean you need to be benched for the big game. Take a look at some of the suggestions I've made above and do what you can to take advantage of the ones that apply to your brand.