Consumer Nation

Chips, Dip, Mobile Phone: Ready for The Big Game?

Attention Super Bowl Advertisers: Are you mobile Web-enabled?

In order to get more out of their Super Bowl ad dollars, more and more companies who are advertising during the Big Game are turning their ads into a larger event, with the television commercial being accompanied by Web sites and social media efforts.

Apple iPhone
Manuel Balce Ceneta

But here's something to think about: Many of the people who will be watching the game will be at a friend's house or at a bar, and will not have access to their home computer. This means if the ad pushes viewers to a Web site, it better be one that can be easily navigated on a smartphone.

"The consumer doesn't expect to struggle when they access a mobile Web site," said Jason Taylor, vice president of Mobile Products at Usablenet.

Usablenet has worked with retailers including Sears Holding, Limited Brands' Victoria's Secret and American Eagle Outfitters, and others to make their Web sites easy to operate on iPhones , Blackberrys and other smartphones.

For the Super Bowl, Usablenet has worked with two clients, Dockers, a unit of Levi Strauss, and Hyundai Motor's Kia.

For Kia's toy-themed Super Bowl ad, there is a mobile component that includes a video game that can be played on a smartphone. The game allows users to drive the new Sorento CUV that Kia is promoting.

Ideas like this help get consumers to interact with the brand for a longer period of time, but they have to work as promised no matter how the user seeks them out, Taylor explained.

When consumers go to a retail Web site, for example, they want to be able to view merchandise, look for deals, use their loyalty cards and purchase items just like they can when they browse the site from a computer. However, Taylor has seen research that suggests that less than 20 percent of the top 500 retailers have optimized their Web sites for mobile devices.

This past holiday season has helped reinforce this message as shoppers turned to their smartphones to research their purchases — sometimes when they were standing in the aisle looking at a product they wanted to buy — in order to make sure they were getting the best deal or check product reviews.

In late November, a Deloitte survey showed that some 18 percent of Americans used their mobile phone to help with holiday shopping.

At the National Retail Federation conference earlier this month, one of the top points of discussion was how to make the shopping experience easier for consumers no matter how they tried to shop. The goal is to make the experience seamless from the store to a Web site to a smartphone.

According to Taylor, some retailers are even doing things that allow consumers to use their smartphones to improve the shopping experience. For example, Usablenet worked with Crate & Barrel to develop an application that allows customers to scan items they want to add to their gift registries. After the items are scanned, these customers can share these additions with friends via social networking sites like Facebook.

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