Every Other Tech Angle You Need For Super Bowl XLVII

Millions of people across the U.S. are preparing their jerseys, face paint and horrific nachos. Yes, football fans rejoice, the big game finally kicks off tomorrow in New Orleans — that is, Super Bowl XLVII, between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Franciso 49ers. The Super Bowl is always one of the biggest media events each year, and our inboxes have been flooded with “OMG this is going to be the most social Super Bowl EVAR” emails for weeks now.

It’s going to be a close, hard-fought game between two teams that most people will probably know nothing about until kickoff. But because the Super Bowl has become such a spectacle, there are tons of things to pay attention to on the web and on social media while stuffing your face with fried food and trying to watch the game while asking your friends what happened on the last play.

But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to ask your friends what happened on the last play — because one could take a short nap between plays in a football game. The WSJ and others have found that while the average duration of a football broadcast is 185 minutes, the actual time the ball is in motion (read: the time teams are actually running plays) is 11 or 12 minutes. That’s 6 percent of the broadcast, give or take. Just another reason you should be watching hockey.

My personal gripes aside, let’s move into the playbooks of a few silver linings (see what I did there?): After NBC’s half-botched inaugural attempt last year, the Super Bowl will be legally streamed on the Interwebs for the second time tomorrow, thanks courtesy of a new host: NFL.com and CBSSports.com.

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 6.40.35 PMThe Super Bowl streaming on the Web is a great thing in principle; however, last year’s webcast only picked up about 2 million viewers compared to television’s 100 million (so clearly networks don’t care about the web cannibalizing viewers yet), and some questions remain. Ryan has the full take here.

Let’s be honest, there are really only a few other technical/digital-related things that people care about (or should care about) in relation to the Super Bowl: The ads and betting. You should be consuming chicken wings (or celery sticks if you’re in San Francisco), drinking beer or margaritas, making ridiculous statements about sports things you know nothing about and actually talking to friends/loved ones. Okay, there’s some validity to the whole second/third/fourth-screen experience as it relates to consuming digital media (especially sports content), but seriously, people, put down your phone and/or tablet and talk to someone. Preferably a human, but I’d even prefer your dog to your stupid phone.

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 6.42.13 PMSo let’s jump in. If you want to get previews of the Super Bowl ads before the game, probably the best place to go is Hulu AdZone, where you can get sneak peeks on upcoming commercials that will air during the game, pick winners, interact on the web and Xbox 360, etc. And Hulu will be archiving and showing the game’s full roster of ads after they appear.

On this front, Twitter also hopes to come to the rescue with #AdScrimmage, which will let fans vote for their favorite commercials (during the game and for 48 hours thereafter), catch the ones they missed, and sneer at the ones you hated. This has become one of the most-enjoyed pastimes for journalists, pundits and fans who don’t care as much about the game. Naturally, most people just talk about the content and are really discussing the work of the creative teams that design the content for the ads.

But, naturally, brands believe that everyone is really talking about them, and in the short-form world of Twitter and social media, they are — to a certain extent. That’s why, unsurprisingly, brands are spending millions on social media sites, paying an armload to become a promoted trend on Twitter for a day — especially considering that the buzz around the Super Bowl now extends for weeks, as brands launch pre-game day campaigns, contests and the like to suck us in. And, admittedly, brands now have good reason to believe that there’s more ROI from social media advertising than coughing up $3.8 million for a 30-second TV spot during the game. According to CBS, those prices are rising, and who would be surprised if that continues for the foreseeable future?

What’s more, brands were able to score twice the amount of Facebook likes when posting about the Super Bowl last year, as Josh wrote at the time. Brands utilizing Facebook to yak about the Super Bowl saw 99.7 percent higher engagement on Super Bowl Sunday and 60 percent higher engagement during the preceding six weeks.

On Twitter, there were 13.7 million tweets during last year’s game, helping to make the Super Bowl one of the biggest events of the year on the social network. During the final three minutes of last year’s game, there were 10K tweets per second, which set a “TPS” record at the time for a major sporting event. Naturally, Twitter penned a blog post this week discussing all the opportunities for people using the service during the big game.

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As to what brands are up to this year? Bud Light is launching two new apps offering fans new ways to “connect with the brand across social platforms,” partnering with Blippar to create an interactive Super Bowl experience by downloading a free app to “blipp” any Bud Light NFL logo on bottles, cans or in print. [More on that here.] And it will also have an app on its Facebook page called the Mojometer to track the number of times fans tag Facebook posts and tweets, if anyone really cares about that.

Samsung has launched a pre-game web campaign featuring Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen and Bob Odenkirk to try to drum up interest, for example. Livefyre is offering a Super Bowl NewsHub, which lets people chime in and chat with other fans in realtime, as do a million others. BlackBerry 10 will be featured in Super Bowl XLVII for the first time ever as part of a broad marketing campaign for the re-invented RIM, I mean BlackBerry. SponsorHub also whipped up an infographic on which Harbaugh brother is more marketable, which is obviously something you need to know the answer to immediately.

All of this spending on Super Bowl-related advertising does seem a little bit ridiculous, especially considering how much brands are spending on TV spots. Adobe, for one, is taking a more “contentious” stance in favor of the digital approach with a new web video ad that features a monkey in conversation with a horse (what else?). The ad is, of course, meant to spoof the huge spending on Super Bowl TV ads. On the other front, CivicScience details why Coke’s new digital ad campaign for the Super Bowl is actually working. Which is a good thing, too, as the company is spending big bucks promoting the campaign, (which is called “CokeChase,” by the way.)

As a side note for the geeks, Entrepreneur Magazine’s entrepreneur of the year, Lady Ada (a.k.a. Limor Fried or Adafruit), has posted Becky Stern’s video of how to emblazon your team’s logo in electro-luminescent panel on the side of the nearest football helmet. [Check it out here.] Oh, and there’s Statmilk for fans, diehards and fairweather alike, to use as a game-time companion, in which they can segment data for player and team insight, get predictive analysis and trash talk.

But the other notable tech-related Super Bowl news, which is a little bit different this year, comes from gambling. As The Raw Story pointed out today, an enormous secondary gambling market has (perhaps unsurprisingly) grown around the Super Bowl. The Raw Story reports:

By the half-time show of the 2013 Super Bowl game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, Americans will have gambled an estimated $10 billion on various aspects of the sports spectacle – from picking the winner to whether Alicia Keys will flub the words of the national anthem.

Naturally, with shrinking budgets and struggling economies, states want a piece of the action. But the Obama Administration isn’t having any of it, and wants to block the states from trying to collect their share of the gambling spend. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that the burgeoning world of online (and social) gambling has contributed to the overall growth. The Super Bowl has always been one of the most-wagered-on events of the year, but $10 billion? Holy jackpot, Batman, that’s huge!

nate-silver-witchTo this point, some gamblers may be frustrated by my revealing their ace-in-the-hole, but it seems that stats guru/shaman Nate Silver posted his prediction for which team will be victorious in Super Bowl XLVII this week. Predicting the outcome of the Super Bowl is a leeeettle bit different than predicting the presidential elections, but Silver nailed those predictions with such accuracy (and aplomb/grace in the face of the haters), that it’s hard not to a) suspect that he could be a witch and b) want to put down your month’s paycheck on Silver’s prediction — or at least 1 million of your nearest Bitcoins.

And 49ers fans rejoice, because Silver has picked your team to win. That’s right. Suck on that, Ravens fans. Of course, if Silver is wrong, there could be a lot of angry, broke bettors at his door tomorrow night. So hopefully he’s already hired a few bodyguards. [More in his post here.]

Oh, and not that they’ll probably hold a candle to Silver, but here is CBS Insights for a breakdown on demographics and all that other Super Bowl segmentation and what not.