hIt’s the unequivocal marketing event of the year. A 30-second Super Bowl ad costs roughly US$3.5 million and reaches an audience of well over 100 million people – numbers that Australian advertisers can barely comprehend.

Traditionally, getting a pre-match glimpse of these top-secret commercials was like drawing blood from a stone, but last year marked the end of the Super Bowl ad game as we know it. Marketers began releasing their ads early, often in the form of extended versions shared through social channels.

In 2013, we’re also seeing brands add a complementary content strategy to their Super Bowl playbook, allowing them to tell a deeper, more interactive story.

It all started with social

When an advertiser shells out around $130,000 per second of air time, using social media to spread out the ‘ta-da’ moment makes simple business sense.

Last year, 34 ad campaigns were released on YouTube before the game. As Suzie Reider, Head of Industry Development at YouTube, puts it: “Marketers saw the amount of buzz and views they were able to generate before the game even started, and realised that they can get much more out of their Super Bowl investment if they build a digital strategy around it.”

And the story runs deeper

It’s no longer when or even how an ad is shared that counts – it’s also the content that surrounds it. The days of the 30-second brand story are drawing to a close as digital channels give brands countless opportunities to share more interactive content.

Take CokeChase.com for example. This year, Coke has ‘gamified’ the Super Bowl with an interactive campaign that extends through television, social and digital media. Consumers are invited to decide whether rugged cowboys, glamorous showgirls or badass badlanders win a race for Coca-Cola through the desert and can even ‘sabotage’ teams online. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram give regular updates on how the race is progressing, and Coke has customised the experience for each platform, creating hundreds of pieces of content.

This isn’t to say big brands are willing to forgo the game-night buzz (the winner of Coke’s chase will be revealed during a 30-second spot that airs right after the final whistle is blown). But what Australian marketers can learn from the Super Bowl is that combining ad spend with pre and post-match content strategies gets you the biggest bang for your buck.