3 Reasons Why Real-Time Marketing Is Anything But A Slam Dunk (In The Milk)

As we’ve arrived at Super Bowl Sunday, there is much talk about the ads (as usual), including how there will be more ads with hashtags than with website URLs, as discussed by AdWeek.  There is also much talk about real-time marketing.  You may be wondering, “What is real-time marketing?”

Real-time marketing is marketing that is essentially done at the “right time, right place, and to the right audience.”  In essence, the marketing takes into account events that are happening at that moment, thus leading to the “real-time” moniker.  The perfect example was last year’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens and the clever ad Oreo did.

As you’ll likely recall, there was a power outage in the third quarter, putting a halt on the game for 34 minutes, though it felt like an eternity to most fans and probably the players and coaches as well.  Oreo was able to utilize that power outage to put up this clever ad, “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.”  It was real-time marketing at its finest because it took advantage of the situation where fans, players, and coaches had to stop everything because of the darkness caused by the power outage.

As everyone knew what Oreo was referring to by “in the dark,” Oreo got rave reviews for being ready and able to act.  Due to their success, many companies are looking to hit it big with real-time marketing this year.

However, that will be anything but a slam dunk in the milk (pardon the Oreo pun), even with many companies employing NFL-Draft-like “war rooms” to monitor the game for any opportunity.  There are three main reasons why it will be much harder to pull off as great a feat as Oreo did last year:

1. The event must be big enough to create that moment.

For real-time marketing to be effective, that moment has to be big enough to really create a moment that can be captured in an ad.  Obviously, having a rare power outage at one of the biggest sporting venues in the United States qualifies.  Certainly, it would seem unlikely that such an event like that would occur again.  Smaller events won’t provide the same impact, never mind the fact that people must notice these events in order for the ads to be effective.  There will likely be few opportunities for such a large event to take place that people actually notice.

2. The event must last long enough to create that moment.

Another factor in Oreo’s success was the fact that the power outage lasted 34 minutes and really put a halt to the game, which viewers clearly noticed.  That gave Oreo enough time to react and the stage for people to notice the ad.  This is another reason why it will be much harder for companies to have as successful real-time marketing as Oreo did last year.  There will likely be few opportunities that last long enough to have enough impact to make an ad for.

3. Virtually, every company is trying to capture the moment.

With Oreo’s success last year, now, every company is trying to duplicate that success.  As a result, virtually every company is employing their employees, hiring ad agencies, and even hiring celebrities to watch the game and tweet during it.  Thus, it will be quite difficult for any one real-time marketing ad to have the power that Oreo did last year because, there will likely be few opportunities for such an ad to take place, and it’s quite possible that more than one company will target the same moment, thus limiting the amount of impact that one company will get from that moment.

This doesn’t mean that companies can’t benefit from real-time marketing opportunities during the Super Bowl and other big-time events (such as the Sochi Olympics that begin later this week), but they shouldn’t expect the same impact that Oreo got last year.  Oreo was the trendsetter, and in some ways, made it look easy.  Now, however, everyone is involved, which means that real-time marketing for the Super Bowl and other big-time events will be anything but a slam dunk (in the milk).


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