In 1984 Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Macintosh during a Super Bowl XVIII commercial. The computer went on to become the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface.
If launched today, the Macintosh commercial likely would have been viewed online prior to the big game by audiences of millions, had its own Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and YouTube pages, held an interactive naming contest, and amassed a social media following that would make Justin Bieber envious.
In this social era, having a commercial go viral is almost as important as having it play during the Super Bowl. Today's advertisers aren't just monitoring sales figures during and after the Super Bowl (a study by research firm Communicus in January found that 8 percent of Super Bowl ads don't increase purchases or purchase intent); they're looking at social likes, followers, downloads, bookmarks, YouTube subscribers, video traffic, Twitter mentions, Google search results, and overall social sentiment.
A Super Bowl video doesn't just achieve viral success accidentally. A 2012 University of California, Davis study of what makes a video go viral found "seeding" content to key influencers is important for viral victory.
Remember during Super Bowl XLVII when Oreo's Super Bowl ad became the most watched online video when, during a third quarter power outage, the sandwich cookie's social media team jumped on the moment, tweeting an ad that read "Power Out? No problem"? An image of a solitary Oreo appeared with the caption, "You can still dunk in the dark." The message caught on almost immediately, getting nearly 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes in that moment on Facebook.
So whether your favorite commercial during the Super Bowl was Budweiser's "Puppy Love," Sonos' "Face Off," or Jack-in-the-Box's "Jack's Farm," one thing is for certain: Commercials have an after-life online and their viral and social components are taking priority. The big question marketers face from gleaning the insight from consumers' viewing habits during yesterday's game and the week to follow is, how can we top that and expand our digital footprint next year?