Cliché as the question may be, many advertisers are asking, “Are you ready for some football?”—even as the rest of us remain basking in the glow (or BAH!) of the holiday season. Why? Because believe it or not, the Super Bowl is but a few short weeks away. Yes, the Super Bowl, with its global audience of millions, a significant portion of whom state quite plainly that they watch the NFL’s biggest game for just one reason: to see the commercials.

So, what’s in store for ads during Super Bowl XLVII?

At last check, CBS (this year’s Super Bowl “host”) had sold nearly all available spots. Big game regulars like Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi will be on hand, along with automobile manufacturers like Audi, Ford (Lincoln-Mercury), Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz. New this year, SodaStream, Oreo (whose signature cookie is marking its 100th anniversary) and Unilever’s AXE Body Spray are planning to join the pack, as well.

But for ads selling at over and above $4 million, advertisers have to do far more than just shell out the big bucks . . . and these days, as strange as it sounds, filming a clever commercial is only the beginning. Today’s savvy advertisers are teasing their spots well in advance of the game, so there’s ample time for interest to build before the commercials air. This lead time gives brands opportunities to measure fan sentiment and integrate the ads’ messaging with digital channels, such as YouTube (a natural fit for gauging fan interest), Twitter and Facebook.

Indeed, several brands are already setting their campaigns in motion, though the Super Bowl doesn’t air until February 3rd.

When 30 seconds can run you nearly $4 million, it makes sense to begin publicizing early, said Ellis Verdi, president of marketing firm DeVito/Verdi, which is creating a Super Bowl ad for Gildan Activewear. Spreading the message far and wide, and taking advantage of new media channels, not only heightens word of mouth, but also creates buzz so more viewers will actually tune in to see the ads when they run.

Naturally, big-name brands are banking on a big payoff from their Super Bowl spots. Mercedes-Benz will run its first ad in many years –no surprise since the game is being played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans –and it will introduce a new car the company hopes will connect with a younger audience. Likewise, Ford’s Lincoln division, whose median buyer age is the oldest of all car manufacturers, is hoping to broaden its appeal by hiring Jimmy Fallon to crowdsource its Super Bowl ad via social media channels.

Of course, it’s also essential for these brands to maintain engagement with as much of the audience as possible long after the final whistle is blown.

Done right, the money spent on a Super Bowl ad will carry a brand well beyond its initial air date. With investment in new media channels such as Facebook, which now claims more than one billion users, YouTube, which says it has more than 800 million viewers each month, and Twitter, which is particularly popular among the coveted 18-36 age group, a company’s big ad buy could go very far, indeed. In fact, for campaigns that use clever hashtags, contests, strategic posts, video clips –and the big data analytics required to integrate all these components into one cohesive whole –there may be no better time to be an advertiser than during the NFL’s annual championship contest.