Google says Nike struck gold during the World Cup with its Phenomenal Shot app thanks in part to a new real-time ad tool, but what other options do brands and marketers have?
Nike used a new real-time ad tool from Google to capitalize upon major World Cup moments nearly in real-time while fans were in the thick of chatting about each one as it happened.
Even though it is the only brand to date to use this tool, it was certainly not alone in its efforts to make the most of real-time moments throughout the month-long tournament.
Opportunities for the 2014 World Cup are clearly long gone, but, for the next big event, we wondered: What can brands and marketers do to truly capitalize upon real-time moments in live TV?
Google and Nike
For its part, Google says it teamed up with Nike, ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, media and marketing services company Mindshare, and digital agency Grow for a World Cup campaign that let fans remix and share key moments right after they happened with Nike Phenomenal Shot on their mobile phones.
Through a new real-time delivery tool, 3-D display ads appeared across desktop and mobile sites and apps in the Google Display Network within seconds of a Nike-sponsored player making a noteworthy play.
For example, when the U.S.'s Tim Howard had a series of saves versus Portugal, Google says its technology allowed Nike to deliver ads celebrating the moment within 10 seconds. The app then allowed fans to explore 3-D versions of Nike athletes and make shareable digital posters with phrases and stickers.
A Google rep says Nike is the first brand to use the tool but there is potential for future live events such as other sporting events or award shows and reality TV.
The ads ran in 15 soccer-loving countries, including the U.K., the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Japan, and Korea.
According to Google, it ran eight ads celebrating real-time moments in total, which resulted in more than 2 million fans engaging with the experience and creating more than 500,000 remixed moments.
But that's only a small fraction of viewers.
According to Facebook, 350 million people talked about the World Cup, generating 3 billion interactions, including 88 million people and 280 million interactions for the final match alone.
And, per Twitter, 672 million tweets were sent during the 2014 event and, interestingly, the platform also notes it was the real-time moments that drove the most traffic.
"When a thrilling moment occurred on the pitch, the world came to Twitter to talk about it. These patterns are evident in our match totals and [tweets per minute] peaks," Twitter says.
Indeed, Google says nearly 80 percent of consumers watch TV with a device nearby and searches spike after major events, as these moments "become the must-have, real-time currency of the Web."
Davide Grasso, chief marketing officer (CMO) at Nike, said in a blog post, "The technology is an exciting way for us to scale our interaction with athletes in real time and deliver to them content that will help fuel their conversations."
Nike did not respond to requests for comment.
"The World Cup was a massive, yet temporary event. Time will tell if this approach has legs," says Ben Plomion, vice president of marketing at online marketing company Chango. "Marketing in milliseconds is still a new concept to marketers and the landscape is evolving rapidly. The real question is whether Nike can transition this short-term success into long-term consumer engagement."
Nike certainly wasn't the only brand to capitalize upon real-time World Cup moments.
Other Real-Time Moments
Like the power outage in the 2013 Super Bowl that inspired Oreo's infamous tweet, one unexpected moment in the World Cup this year was Uruguayan player Luis Suarez's bite.
Many brands sprung to action, including McDonald's in Uruguay, which invited Suarez to take a bite of a Big Mac in a post that was retweeted 78,000 times.
Snickers found similar success in a related tweet that spurred 48,000 retweets.
Other brands, including Bud Light, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Listerine, and Trident, to name a few, had more modest success.
"What's interesting about it is this event was totally unexpected, which means that the McDonald's team didn't have a chance to do any scenario planning...[which] is a growing phenomenon with brands that consider what interesting events could happen in real-time and have canned tweets ready to go," Plomion says. "McDonald's didn't take a huge risk because they talked about a benefit of their brand and tied it up to an event in real-time."
He uses the example of a tweet from Delta after the U.S. team's first match against Ghana as an example of a real-time effort that "did go very badly."
"This tweet played on cultural differences, which is a tougher subject to address," he adds.
Delta later apologized.
While there is not yet a magic formula to prevent mistakes or capture interest, brands and marketers do have options aside from Google's real-time delivery tool.
In fact, there are a number of tools they can leverage to enhance their listening capabilities and make their communications more real-time, says Azher Ahmed, senior vice president and director of digital operations at DDB Chicago.
That includes Twitter-based tools such as Radian6, Sysomos, or even native Twitter search functions. Based on the programming keywords or hashtags, marketers can get a decent feel of what's happening in the moment during a broadcast, he says.
In addition, Ahmed notes enterprise trend intelligence company Bottlenose is also an interesting platform for brands and marketers to explore because it offers a combination of trend alerts and dashboards with more predictive modeling around what's next as it emerges.
Twitter divides its own real-time best practices into three phases - before, during, and after - in an internal post penned by head of political sales, Peter Greenberger.
In it, he says brands and marketers must first decide what their goals are for a campaign, such as building brand awareness or humanizing the brand. They must also make sure to establish roles and responsibilities for their war rooms and do dry runs ahead of time.
Marketers should set up targeting parameters prior to the event, which include identifying interest categories and handles, uploading tailored audiences, and confirming budgets.
Greenberger also recommends preparing tweets in local languages ahead of time. And he says marketers should agree on an engagement strategy, including who the brand will respond to and mention, as well as identifying influential Twitter users who will be live-tweeting and would could potentially be engaged.
At the same time, Greenberger says to try to plan for various scenarios with relevant content. For an event like the World Cup, that would include anticipating goals, good plays, infractions, and results. Then, during the event itself, brands should try to add context to specific moments to improve engagement.
"If you've prepared your content based upon likely scenarios, it will not be difficult to insert details (player names, etc.) to make it more relevant," he writes.
In the war room, brands should study trending terms, spikes in tweets per minute, related tweets, and social media posts from influential users while also looking at their own metrics to help participate in big moments.
And when all is said and done, brands should keep their teams in the war room to brainstorm what worked and what could be improved upon next time. They should also use analytics to measure success against goals and optimize for the next event.