Jeffrey K. Rohrs: So where’s your mobile call-to-action?

As a Cleveland Browns fan, I watch the Super Bowl for two reasons — to root against the Ravens or the Steelers and to watch the commercials. Since the first part didn’t work out during Super Bowl XLVII, I focused on the second and discovered something disturbing — most Super Bowl advertisers act as if smartphones and tablets don’t exist.

Take Mercedes-Benz for example. Last February, they spent an estimated $3.8 million to run a 30-second commercial in which the company advertised its new CLA coupe. In the ad, Willem Dafoe plays the devil in the midst of a negotiation with a 20-something. The devil’s deal was the young man’s soul in exchange for a new CLA. Unfortunately, just before he’s about to sign his soul away, the young man spots a billboard for the CLA and realizes its price is under $30,000. He rejects the deal, and poof!, the devil disappears.

When this ad first ran during the Super Bowl in February 2013, it ended with the statement “Coming September 2013” followed by a black screen with a large Mercedes-Benz logo and a small Facebook logo promoting “MercedesBenzUSA” on Facebook.

And that’s it.

And that’s the problem.

Make an incentive

The strongest call-to-action Mercedes-Benz could muster for the biggest game of the year and a car that wasn’t even available for seven more months was a barely-visible Facebook page name. The automaker didn’t encourage viewers to visit its website. It didn’t ask excited consumers to sign-up for email updates leading up to the car’s release. Heck, it didn’t even give fans an incentive to go to Facebook.

What Mercedes-Benz failed to embrace — as do far too many companies today — is that all marketing is now direct thanks to the rise of the mobile Internet. Google estimates that more than 77 percent of U.S. adults watch television with at least one mobile device (smartphone, tablet or laptop) in hand. According to the Reynolds Journalism Institute, more than 55 percent of adults in the U.S. consume news on mobile devices. Furthermore, the latest data from Return Path indicates that nearly half of all email is now opened on a mobile device.

The majority of consumers are now mobile-enabled. This means that every bit of your advertising — whether on television, in print, out-of-home or online — has the opportunity to immediately connect with consumers if you include a mobile call to action.

In this age of mobility, we can and must ask our paid advertising to do more than just create brand impressions. It should be generating sales and building our direct, proprietary audiences of subscribers (email, SMS, YouTube), fans (Facebook) and followers (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest).

Failing to leverage paid media in this fashion is akin to leaving money on the table — something no one wants to do whether they’re spending $1,000 for a local spot or $3.8 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl time.

The moment of truth

So come this Feb. 2, I hope we’ll see a different kind of Super Bowl in which the advertisers fully embrace mobile-empowered viewers. Perhaps this will inspire brands of all stripes to revisit whether their paid advertising embraces the potential of all marketing to be direct marketing.

And of course, I’m glad it’s also a Super Bowl without the Ravens or the Steelers. Because as a Browns fan, that’s what makes the Bowl Super.

Jeffrey K. Rohrs is vice president of marketing insights for ExactTarget, a company, and author of “AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers.” For more information, visit

Twitter: @jkrohrs