American Marketer


How apps drive Super Bowl engagement opportunities

February 2, 2012


By Kalie Kimball-Malone

It is not just about team colors, beer and finger foods anymore. This year, thousands of eager football fans are adding one more thing to their Super Bowl party to-do list: downloading applications.

According to Nielsen research, 70 percent of tablet users and 68 percent of smartphone users watch television with their devices in hand. That is a big opportunity for marketers, especially those who want to maximize the effect of a 30-second spot costing $3.5 million.

Indeed, marketers are seizing the day with apps that make ads more interactive and TV more rewarding.

Music to ears

Many companies are piggybacking on the popularity of existing apps. It is a good way to reach a broad user base without having to reinvent the wheel.

A great example is Shazam, an app that captures music, gives you information about the song, and lets you buy directly.

With Shazam’s 175 million users, marketers can assume a significant overlap with their customers.

So it makes sense that one- third of the Super Bowl ads on Sunday, Feb. 5 will be Shazamable.

Consumers who use the app to capture audio from these commercials will be able to enter sweepstakes for major prizes, view special content and receive free music. The results are impressive: Shazam-enabled ads are claimed to deliver 350 percent higher engagement over ads whose only call to action is “Follow us.”

Chevrolet is upping its game with an app that consumers can use not only during commercials, but also amid game play.

The Chevy Game Time app gives users a chance to win prizes from desirable brands such as Bridgestone, Motorola and Papa John’s, or even drive home a 2012 Chevy by answering trivia questions and polls.

Though it incurs development costs, a major benefit of having a proprietary app is the ability to track user response and behavior.

So you can bet that Chevrolet will be closely monitoring downloads and interaction and, then, once the game is over, encouraging further engagement by either introducing new features or having users check back in for results.

Bowled over

Even if Chevy’s app is a win, its ads will still have steep competition in the Adbowl.

Designed for consumers who love the ads as much as the game itself, the Adbowl has been pitting Super Bowl ads against one another since 2002.

The Adbowl 2012 app lets you vote and view results from the comfort of your couch. Will it be Geico’s gecko or Kia’s hamster? The nation awaits the results.

But game-specific apps are not the only kind that will see action on Sunday.

Entertainment-based social networks and rewards programs are gaining popularity with both fans and marketers.

GetGlue is a new way to share the shows you like, get recommendations for what to watch, and pick up stickers and discounts along the way. The GetGlue app is an easy way to share the excitement of game day.

Another app to look for is Viggle, a rewards program that lets people earn points for gift cards from retailers such as Starbucks and iTunes just for watching their favorite shows.

Because there are special bonuses for ads, it seems like a perfect match, so although Viggle has not announced plans yet, it will be no surprise to see it break through soon.

Whatever team you root for this year, there is a good chance you or someone you know will be watching along with a second screen. And by either partnering with an existing app or adding their own, marketers will have more opportunities to enhance customers’ experience with their ads and their brands.

Kalie Kimball-Malone is creative director at The Garrigan Lyman Group, a full-service digital creative agency in Seattle. Reach her at