My Byline For Mobile Marketer On The Super Bowl Telecast

Each year, I write a piece for Mobile Marketer on the use - or lack of use -- of mobile in the Super Bowl telecast.

My new byline follows:

“Please - ad with mobile call to action leading to millions joining database. #superbowl #brandbowl”—Tweet from the author, sometime late in the first half of Super Bowl XLVI

For each of the past three years, I have played Monday-morning quarterback with a day-after column for Mobile Marketer looking at mobile elements of Super Bowl ads. 

Despite a huge, captive audience that actually eagerly anticipates these commercials, for mobile marketers, the overarching theme has been “missed opportunities.”

But going into Sunday’s Patriots-Giants tilt, 2012 looked to be the year that Super Bowl viewing went from passive to active:

• Nearly 60 percent of mobile users planned to look at or use their phones or tablets during this year’s Super Bowl, according to a survey from Harris Interactive

• Chevrolet launched a tablet and smartphone application designed to run throughout the game and add interactivity to their ads

• Rumors were flying that more than half of the Super Bowl ads would be Shazamable—which is apparently now a word, “the ability to be identified using the ‘Shazam’ mobile app,” syn. “Shazam-enabled”)

• A more informal bellwether—on Twitter, a colleague predicted the over-under on mobile calls-to-action would be 10

Despite the optimism, just as the New York Giants once again delivered disappointment to Patriot Nation, once again mobile marketers were left feeling a little empty at the end of Super Bowl XXVI. Another year of “anticipointment,” perhaps.

Yes, there were more calls-to-action than ever before – particularly hashtags, which debuted in Audi’s 2011 Super Bowl Spot.

This year, by my count, nearly half the ads included a hashtag – some relevant, many fanciful (Audi’s #solongvampires, JetBlue’s meta humor #hashtagoverload).

I also counted more than a dozen spots featuring “Shazam” – which was useful for engaging customers if they have a smartphone, if they have Shazam downloaded , if they are sitting close enough to the TV, if have the Shazam application open and if they see the small call-to-action on the screen. There’s a lot of if’s there.

Most ads also featured suggestions for viewers to visit Web sites or Facebook pages, too.

Each of these calls-to-action were designed to drive a consumer to interact with a brand—with limitations.

Twitter hashtags and Facebook pages allow them to comment on a specific ad spot or maybe even a brand, but in a one-to-many sort of way. 

Shazam is hampered by the requirements I mentioned above, and even if those are overcome, still require the user to click through from the app to a landing page. And Web sites, well, that would have been cutting edge during the dotcom-heavy Super Bowl of 2000 … maybe.

None of these calls-to-action provided marketers with a key element—an easy means to create and continue a one-on-one conversation between brand and customer, with highly relevant content delivered on their most personal device.

By my count, there were two advertisers who used mobile to create a conversation—with mixed results: the NFL (SMS) and GoDaddy (QR code):

• The NFL’s spots had all the ingredients of a great ad—humor, the chance to win big prizes, and an SMS-based “call to action”—but failed miserably on the execution. I texted in during the first half—and heard nothing back … for more than five hours. Calls-to-action are about the instant gratification of a response, not a text back in the middle of the night.

• GoDaddy included a QR code on the latest in its series of ads to encourage viewers to visit their site for their latest series of racy “too hot for TV” advertisements. Theoretically, a great idea and a good way to capture customers who opt in – if consumers just happen to have their QR scanner fired up and aimed at the TV set during the seconds it appeared on screen.

Just like the past few years, there were so many missed opportunities.

Fiat’s ad had all the ingredients of a great spot: innuendo, twists and a fast car. But it could have built a database of opted-in potential customers willing to exchange their information for access to a longer director’s cut of the ad.

Budweiser’s Facebook call-to-action for aiding rescue dogs was a nice touch for a worthy cause—but an SMS prompt for interested participants to opt-in could have benefited beer sales and animals alike.

As far as my colleague’s prediction on 10 mobile calls to action? Bet the under. For mobile marketers, it was another year of anticipointment.

Like Tom Brady’s heave to the end zone on the game’s final play, my plea for an ad with a mobile call-to-action leading to millions to opt into a marketer’s database came up empty.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

MediaPost's Steve Smith asked me what I thought about the mobile components in the Super Bowl spots.

From his article:

"Short-code callouts were few, as many marketers seemed to understand that it is difficult for the fleeting mention of a six-digit number and keyword to register with viewers. Yet a spot advertising the NFL Fantasy game and a $1 million sweepstakes entry had a persistent call to action on screen: send “NFL” to 69635. Unfortunately, as several mobile executives noted, NFL did not respond quickly in acknowledging the entry. In fact, it took hours for our entry to get a 2 a.m reply.  Likewise for Jeff Hasen, CMO of Hipcricket, who told us: 'That's unforgivable when viewers are looking for instant gratification.'

"In our spot check among mobile marketing execs paying close attention to the use of the platform this year, most were underwhelmed. Annual mobile Bowl-watcher Hasen says that while marketers didn’t ignore mobile this year, as they have in the past, the execution was uncertain. Audio ID app Shazam allows users to tag about half of the Super Bowl ads, but Hasen says 'how many knew enough to use Shazam remains a question. With about half the ads including the Shazam prompt, no one spot stood out for including it.' He concludes that despite the hashtags and second-screen schemes, 'my takeaway is one of anticipointment.'”

Read more:

Will Mobile Score During Super Bowl Telecast?

Final questions on my mind in the hours before the Super Bowl telecast:

With reportedly half of the Super Bowl spots including a Shazam call to action, will it be advantageous to have a later ad once the concept is discovered by viewers?

Conversely, will advertisers with later appearances suffer from Shazam fatigue?

How will brand managers judge the results of ads that include a mobile component?

How much activity needs to come from the more than 100 million viewers for mobile to be deemed successful?

Will more use the mobile web or mobile apps?

Will an advertiser unveil a call to action that leads to an opt-in database?

Will mobile finally break through this telecast or will it be another year of anticipointment?

We'll finally have some answers later today.

More Press Including My Views on Mobile's Super Bowl Opportunity

For several years, Mediapost's Steve Smith and I have shared a disappointment in the lack of mobile calls to action in Super Bowl TV spots.

I talked to Steve this week - a portion of his new story follows:

Longtime critic of mobile marketing (or the lack thereof) during Super Bowls past Jeff Hasen, CMO, Hipcricket says, “we will look back at this as the year of the Super Bowl Mobile. But I don’t know if this will be the way brands will use it going forward.” It will be interesting to see if the various audio recognition apps synchronize accurately amidst the uniquely noisy Super Bowl viewing environment, he says.

And in the end it is important that mobile marketing plays well in this first widespread mobilization of the biggest ad day of the year. “We need the agency and the brand folks to say that we finally did use mobile well and had a great experience,” says Hasen.

Hasen argues that marketers need to give viewers multiple entryways for activating what they see on the first screen, whether it is an audio recognition app or a text prompt. But more to the point, the device needs to be used to get beyond the big branding bang of a Super Bowl TV spot and do what mobile does best, initiate relationships. “I am looking for that remarkable opportunity to build a database,” he says. “It is un-sexy and meat and potatoes, but the opportunity is to build those hundreds of thousands into an opt-in database.”  

Last year, Denny’s generated 2 million diners after offering Super Bowl viewers a free breakfast in a famous game spot in 2009. “I want to see a case study of work that sends people to have their eggs and show how they used mobile to get two or three million of those people in a database,” he says. “Otherwise we are looking at the viewer in the same way we did in Super Bowl I.”

Read more here


Mobile Strategy Should Employ Multiple Means of Participation

In Mobile Marketer's new guide for Mobile Advertising, I wrote about the importance of giving consumers choice about how to interact with you via mobile. The article follows:

CTIA reports that mobile phone penetration in the United States is greater than 96 percent with more than 300 million current wireless subscribers, 72.5 million of which are using
smartphones (comScore).

Now let us consider the large number of operating systems – iOS, Android, Microsoft’s Mango, BlackBerry – and the ever-increasing different devices in use.

Savvy brands understand that we are each individuals when it comes to our mobile devices. Leading brands such as Macy’s, MillerCoors and Ford understand this concept, and provide multiple options for mobile engagement.

This has led to a number of successful mobile marketing and advertising programs.

In spring 2011, Macy’s launched its Backstage Pass program, which engages shoppers in-store via multiple calls to action to use a mobile device.

Recognizing that not all its shoppers have QR code readers, the iconic department store added a short code to in-store signage, giving consumers a choice and ensuring that no one is left out.

When the QR code is scanned, or the short code is texted shoppers are forwarded to a backstage look at a video from the designer of their choice including Kenneth Cole, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Rachel Roy, Jessica Simpson and Martha Stewart.

The videos offer design suggestions, style tips and more. Shoppers can even enter a sweepstakes to win Macy’s gift cards.

The program has gained wide acclaim and interaction, sparking Macy’s to implement a second video series for the fall shopping season.

MillerCoors, the second largest beer company in America, recognizes that beer and sports go hand in hand.

The company designated nearly 75 percent of its ad spend to sporting events in 2010.

However, MillerCoors recognizes that there is a substantial opportunity to take these advertisements to the next level. By adding a mobile element to its advertisements, MillerCoors is able to connect with customers and build lasting relationships.

MillerCoors tapped Hipcricket to run a cross-media marketing campaign, leveraging traditional mobile elements, to help increase awareness of the Coors Light brand during Super Bowl XLV and the Miller Lite brand during the 2011 NCAA tournament.These campaigns included QR codes, mobile Web sites, SMS and contesting.

The campaigns resulted in over 159,000 interactions from 86,000 mobile participants and over 60 percent of which fell into one of MillerCoors’ key demographics – the 21-34 age range.

FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and its dealers, implemented its first mobile program in 2010.

The brand’s goal was to include mobile calls to action in its national print, radio and TV advertisements to give potential customers an opportunity to interact with the car brand on a personal level.

The first phase of FordDirect’s program included adding short codes to its national ads for the Ford Year End event.

The car company was able to generate more than 1,000 leads across 38 regional dealer groups and achieve a 12.5 percent conversion rate.

In 2011, Ford is projected to spend $1.3 billion on advertising, primarily targeted at creating leads that turn into sales.

As part of that effort, FordDirect has now expanded its mobile marketing program to include all of its print and TV advertisements. The program has achieved a 15.4 percent lead conversion rate.

The success of these programs has led to an expanded program which includes QR codes among other mobile channels.

With a myriad of ways for people to consume mobile content on a host of mobile devices, why should a brand’s mobile playbook only have one play?

Why Will Marketers Spend More On Mobile in 2012?

Mobile Marketer asked me to explain the increased spend in mobile marketing expected in 2012.

  Here's what I told the publication:

  “It starts with consumer behavior. Every indicator says mobile activity considerably increased in 2011. The latest was the IBM report that said sales from mobile devices doubled in December 2011 versus December 2010.

  “Even the most stubborn of marketers has had to take note. The smartest ones know that consumers expect brands to have a significant mobile presence – and they are punishing companies that don’t.

  “Many mobile channels will benefit from increased spending. Mobile Web will be one of the winners driven by consumer demand. Another will be SMS because it provides reach to all, including the 50 percent who won’t have smartphones and, when used wisely, leads to permission-based, monetizable databases."

  The full story is here -

Too Much Emphasis On Smartphones?

Mobile Marketer asked me for a 2012 prediction. With all the talk about fancy phones, marketers need to remember those with less sophisticated devices:

"I predict that many marketers will neglect feature phone users as smartphone share tops 50 percent. Sure, we need to provide rich experiences to those with highly-capable devices, but we can't afford to forget the approximate 160 million Americans who will continue to carry simple phones for the foreseeable future. Mobile marketing will continue to be about reach in 2012."

The full article is here:

Mobile's Misses In 2011

Any list of the year’s misses in mobile must include the incorrect predictions that Super Bowl advertisers would include calls to action leading to the creation of massive permission-based databases.

Instead, TV advertisers flubbed the year’s best and biggest opportunity to engage.

This was going to be the year that advertisers embraced mobile. Think of the possibilities:

• Chrysler offers fans an exclusive Eminem download at the end of the “Keep Detroit Beautiful” when they join a mobile affinity club for the new Chrysler 200.

• Verizon Wireless asks mobile users to text in their ZIP codes to learn how its network is superior to AT&T’s. 

• GoDaddy requires users to opt in to watch a special mobile version of their “too hot for TV” commercial.

None of these things happened. 

Total number of mobile calls-to-action: 0

Total number of mobile loyalty clubs launched: 0

I will not miss on this in 2012. I’m staying as far away from the Super Bowl as the Indianapolis Colts.

Other misses in the year in mobile:

RIM has had as bad a year as the Colts. It has failed to innovate, underwhelmed in sales, and has shown no direction worth following. With the likely first pick of the draft, Indianapolis has better prospects for 2012 than does RIM.

It remains to be seen whether the forecast of 50 percent smartphone penetration by the end of 2011 is met. Nielsen listed the third quarter number at 44 percent. The last six points to 50 percent is a large hill to climb, but this is the season of giving and stockings will be ringing across the country.

We missed on predictions of the iPhone 5 on four U.S. carriers. All of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the altar. 

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

Marketers chased the so-called shiny object but failed to bring home the business results.  Savvy professionals succeed by following behaviors and interest research rather than gambling on something entirely new. 

These marketers know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. The lesson? Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance to succeed. 

A major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to reach efforts that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

And finally, many marketers missed by dictating how consumers would interact with their brands.

Successful mobile campaigns, like the Backstage Pass program at Mobile Marketer’s Marketer of the Year Macy’s, provided multiple ways to engage. By giving options like SMS, QR codes and mobile web sites, marketers prosecuted a reach strategy that was inclusive – and moved product.

(column first published in Mobile Marketer -

My Super, If Not Super Bowl, Predictions For 2012

My Super Bowl mobile predictions have been anything but super so I’ll steer clear of forecasting the arrival of mobile calls to action in TV spots in February.

Instead, here are my 2012 predictions for other areas of mobile:

Device price points will continue to be brought down with offers of discounted products in exchange for a consumer agreeing to receive ads. Mobile phones with offers, including perhaps a Google phone, are coming soon.

Savvy marketers will follow research highlighting consumer behavior and interest. They know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance of success. One major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to ‘reach efforts’ that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

2012 will be the year of the mobile web. As we move closer to the time when more people access the web on a wireless device than a PC, brands, agencies and others will realize that they need a mobile web offering that overdelivers. This has not yet happened, but will soon because consumers will demand it.

In such a growth industry, more vendors will enter the marketplace making claims that they will produce ROI. Proceed with caution. While the company name may not say Two Guys In a Garage, that may indeed be what you are buying.

Expect more pressure from senior management to produce results from mobile, meaning it’s critical to think beyond a one-time transaction. There are bigger opportunities if you think about what can happen after the click, namely an experience that can lead to an opt-in and remarketing possibilities.

Plan on more device types in the hands of consumers, making it important to provide positive user experiences rather than products that addresses the least-common denominator. Consumers expect top notch brand experiences and the bar is higher than ever with smartphones and faster networks.

Expect more social interaction at the point of sale, making customer service vital or a bad experience will end up on Facebook or Twitter in seconds. According to my Moments of Trust consumer touchpoint survey, 40 percent of consumers with smartphones or Internet-enabled mobile devices have used them to spread word to their social networks about an in-store experience, 46 percent of them reported a positive one and 40 percent cited a negative one.

We will see patent infringements being identified and enforced, making it imperative to work with a company that has protected IP and can keep you out of trouble. Rather than experiencing a problem later, it’s critical to determine if a vendor has proprietary technology or is working off something that could be challenged in court.

Others will chase voice as the killer app but may not deliver due to issues of ambient noise and poor search results.

Successful mobile campaigns will have prominent calls to action and provide multiple ways to engage. Much like Macy’s does with its Backstage Pass program, brands should consider using an SMS call to action and QR code on print advertising campaign pointing to a mobile website that can capture customer’s information.  This engages the consumer and introduces a concept of immediacy. Consumers are looking for interactivity in what used to be passive situations.

(article first appeared on

Assessing My Mobile Predictions

Anyone who claims that everything that happened in mobile in the second half of 2011 was predicted is selling you a lie. We’re smarter than falling for untruths, you say?

Yup, call me on the iPhone 5 through the T-Mobile network and give me the details.

We missed – all of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the alter. At least Kim and Kris got that far.

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

In July, we suggested that with the iPhone in more hands, we would have a repeat of the time when the CEO said, “We need an iPhone app”. That may have come to pass to some degree, but we certainly aren’t fielding request after request at Hipcricket where clients and prospects are more interested in driving leads and building databases which produce remarketing opportunities.

How did I do on my other predictions?

I forecast that the convergence of mobile and social would be even more pronounced. That has come to pass with Facebook and Twitter introducing products that have yielded unprecedented activity through wireless devices. Facebook’s acquisition of location-sharing property Gowalla is the latest example of the coming together of mobile and social.

I predicted that at retail, even more mobile subscribers would be chronicling their “Moments of Trust” by posting comments, photos and even videos to social networks. Mobile devices have become megaphones for a large portion of users with more than 40 percent telling those in their social networks about negative or positive experiences with brands. Is this trend growing? Try finding someone in a mall without a mobile device in hand.

I said that Groupon would prove to be more valuable to mobile users than to PC members, providing that the mobile customer opts in for Groupon Now offers.  According to daily deal aggregator Yipit, Groupon Now—geared toward consumers using mobile devices—generated $1.2 million in revenue in October, a 24.5 percent increase from September. By way of comparison, Groupon’s October revenue was up 22.2 percent.

I said to expect outrage over bills that charge for data overages. We’ve heard this one before – text messaging became mainstream once consumers were offered unlimited plans that prevented shocking bills. With the carriers doing away with all you can eat data, we’re back to surprise time in our bills. As it turned out, the Federal Trade Commission noticed. In October, it unveiled its "bill shock" plan, which would require wireless providers to alert users when they have exceeded or are about to go over voice, text, or data usage.

I predicted that the hype around the mobile wallet would intensify and asked if that was even possible. I also said that everyone is chasing the opportunity, but consumers wouldn’t be leaving their wallets at home when they hit the malls in November and December. This is true. The Google Wallet payment system was announced in May, but it only works with Sprint’s Nexus S 4G.The buzz continues, though, with the news that the Google Wallet will soon be linked to vending machines in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.

I suggested that with smartphone adoption making a march toward 50 percent share, expect more to make the claim that apps are on the way out because so many more subscribers will be able to access the mobile web. I also said that we’re years away from deciding the apps vs. web question. I still believe that. We now have over one million apps offered through various stores. The great majority are ignored or get downloaded and forgotten. But some, mostly utilitarian ones, appear to be here to stay.

(Article first appeared at