How Viewers Watch the Super Bowl—And Its Ads

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Even the Super Bowl does not make for entertaining enough television to get today’s fickle viewers to glue their eyes on the big screen and set cellphones aside. During the game, viewers also text (29%), play mobile games (28%), and browse social media apps (27%), mobile firm AdColony found in a global survey.

The numbers may even seem low; it seems fair to bet more than one in three viewers takes an eye off the game to text a friend. But AdColony manager of strategy and planning Gabriella Stano Aversa said marketers should not treat the multiscreen environment as a dilemma, seeing it rather as an opportunity.

“Ads on phones can feature touch, vibration, and allow users to actively engage with an ad instead of passively viewing it,” she said. “Greater measurement capabilities and more tailored audiences mean advertisers can counter the ‘tuning out’ of young viewers by targeting mobile games and apps” younger people prefer.

The report shows that young people may not be as loyal to the Super Bowl viewing tradition as their older counterparts. As much as 92% of the quasi-religious event’s viewers are 35 or older. Women tune in about as often as men, and nearly half do not watch football regularly.

While commercials are historically a huge component of the viewing experience, the survey indicates consumers do not rewatch ads; only 13% said they are likely to rewatch ad spots that caught their attention. But viewer use of a range of screens means the Super Bowl advertising competition is no longer limited to the TV ads that capture the most media attention.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]