Here’s How Marketers Are Using Mobile This Super Bowl

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SuperbowlIn an age when marketers can reach a hundred million people any day of the week, the draw of the Super Bowl’s 184 million viewers has lost some of its luster. But Madison Avenue is focusing on another number: $14.3 billion. That’s the amount that consumers plan to spend on food, beer and other goods for the big game.

And this year, mobile is playing an important role.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, in particular, are upping their investments in mobile, says Derek Thompson, chief strategy officer at PlaceIQ. Thompson, the former head of the mobile practice at Starcom Mediavest, says PlaceIQ has seen a 20% increase in campaigns focused on using the company’s place dataset to influence offline spending, primarily through mobile ads.

“For a lot of marketers, the Super Bowl represents a great opportunity — but it also represents a great cost,” Thompson told me in an interview. “But once you see the game as more than the game itself, and you begin to look at what consumers do before they sit down, you can start identify opportunity for brands to interact with consumers in a much more cost effective way.”

The National Retail Federation estimates that the average American will spend $77.88 on Super Bowl-related spending this year, a 14% increase from a year earlier. In the spectrum of consumer holidays, that puts the game ahead of Halloween, which generates $6 billion each year, and just behind Mother’s Day at $19 billion, and Valentines Day, which is expected to generate $18.1 billion this year.

Unlike the winter holidays where consumers often turn to ecommerce sites to buy presents, the bulk of the Super Bowl spending is centered around items more frequently purchased in stores such as food and beverages. According to the same NRF study, 8 in 10 prospective Super Bowl viewers say they plan to purchase food and beer while a smaller minority plan to buy bigger ticket items such as team apparel or a new television.

Thompson says the company is working with a handful of packaged goods brands to identify and message the roughly 25 million people who plan to host parties this Sunday. Using offline purchase data, generated from Datalogix and others, as well as movement data from the period preceding the Super Bowl last year, the company says it can identify people who spent on the Super Bowl last year and retarget ads to them over the next few days.

“When you look at the promise of mobile, and you start to think about location, the value of the mobile devices are its ability to help us understand consumers,” said Thompson. “The real opportunity is to maximize the potential of the event by understanding consumer behavior: the more you understand the more you can get in front of that spending.”

But mobile can also serve as a complement to the pricey television ads during the game itself, says Dan Silver, director of agency marketing at xAd, another location-centric mobile technology startup. The idea, says Silver, is to use mobile as a way for a brand to cash in on the awareness generated by a television spot by serving users more targeted ads in the days after the game.

“One of the keys to mobile is that you can begin to connect all of these mediums that were once siloed,” says Silver. “Mobile provides an understanding of a mindset that’s someone is in.”

In thinking about television, one of the more promising applications for mobile is in using the data collected from device to measure effectiveness of television advertising. Last month,  PlaceIQ teamed with Nielsen competitor Rentrak to provide an unnamed TV network with data that could connect viewership with foot traffic to an unnamed “large retailer. Silver says xAd is pursuing similar opportunities, but said while the potential is large “it’s still early” for many of the products developed by the industry .

But the growth of the mobile advertising industry may eventually rely on the decline of the type of mass market media spending typified by the Super Bowl. If the decline of print magazines, newspapers and directories paid for the rise of desktop advertising, television (and all that comes with it) will, at least in part, have to pay for mobile.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.