The Biggest Game Changer for the Super Bowl Is Mobile Apps

Joe McCann

It's that time of the year again where loads of Americans gather around the TV, collectively consume 1.25 billion chicken wings and actually stay tuned to watch commercials. And yes, there is a pretty big football game that takes place as well.

But let's talk about those commercials again. That's right, commercials have actually become as a big of a highlight of the Super Bowl as bone-crushing quarterback sacks and one-hand grabs in the endzone. This year, commercials will radically change the viewer's Super Bowl experience and it solely rests on the devices that they have in their pockets - their mobile phones.

Shazam, the mind-bogglingly accurate audio-syncing/recognition application, announced on February 2nd that they are making the entire game "Shazam-able". WTF does that mean? Well, at any point in the game you can fire up Shazam, capture a few seconds of audio and Shazam will provide you with statistics from the game. Use Shazam during halftime and unlock the possibility to win a prize. Also, nearly half of all the commercials are Shazam-able.

This level of direct brand to consumer engagement is unprecedented for the Super Bowl, if not for any live television event.

Brands, such as Toyota (who's giving away a Camry), are not only partnering with companies like Shazam, but many brands have decided to craft their own Super Bowl specific apps.

Chevy, for example, is not giving away just one car, but twenty of them. Chevy has developed the Chevy Game Time App which is a rather engaging and attractive application.

After downloading and installing the app, the user is prompted to sign in with either Facebook, Twitter or go about it with plain vanilla registration. After filling out some additional info...

Chevy Game Time iPhone App Registration Screen

...the user is then informed they have been automatically entered to win a Camaro.

Chevy Game Time iPhone App Entered to Win Camaro Screen

Now, here is the key TV engagement part. The user is now notified that they have there own unique license plate; if their license plate is shown during any of Chevy's commercials during the Super Bowl, they win.

Chevy Game Time iPhone App License Plate Screen

Chevy also entices the user to not only watch the ads on Super Bowl Sunday, but also to check back inside the app two days later for two more chances to win.

Chevy Game Time iPhone App Follow Up Screen

What's also interesting to note here is that the app is available on Android and has just as high a level of fidelity in visual polish and interactivity as the iPhone version.

Chevy Game Time Android App License Plate Screen

Here's another screenshot from an Android Galaxy Nexus:

Chevy Game Time Android App Follow Up Screen

What's interesting about this is that a brand like Chevy (or at least the agency they hired) is not only focusing on simply the iPhone users out there, but the greater share of mobile smartphone users: Android users. iOS and Android arguably make up the lion's share of the mobile operating system market and as RIM continues to bleed market share, there is little interest in exposing an application of this fidelity to Blackberry users (not to mention the pain of developing on the Blackberry platform).

The Super Bowl is providing brands new and unique ways of engaging with consumers beyond the standard television commercial. By tapping into the "second screen" of a TV viewer (the mobile phone or tablet), brands have new ways of maximizing the absurdly expensive cost of a Super Bowl ad ($3.5 million per 30 seconds - up a whopping 17% from last year) while having additional metrics to measure against an ad's efficacy. I certainly don't see this trend dying down any time soon and fully expect more live sporting events (and eventually regular television programming) to provide more and more opportunities for brands to engage with consumers between the TV and mobile applications.