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Super Bowl ads and social media get as big as the game

A record 111-million people in the U.S. watched the Super Bowl last year.

Similar numbers are expected Sunday.

But for many viewers, they’re just as interested in the commercials as the actual game.

And social media is inviting them to do more than watch.

You don’t have to wait until Sunday to watch some of the hyped, slickly-produced, multi-million dollar commercials.

About half the advertisers have posted part of all of their ads here online.

But you’ll also notice a lot more use of social media symbols.

“We’re judged now just as much as the game,” says Rob Reilly, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of CP+B.

The head of the advertising agency knows their moves in creating commercials matter as much as those on the football field.

They’ve created eight Super Bowl ads since 2006, including this year’s 30-second spot for Best Buy features “it girl” Amy Poehler.

And social media lets them know immediately if they scored or fumbled.

“You really get to hear what people think and they either love it or are incredibly brutal. It’s usually not in the middle. That’s the thing about social media, people either love or hate it,” says Reilly.

Social media has also made commercials more interactive with viewers.

Notice the use of a hash tag (#wish granted) at the end of a Toyota Super Bowl ad.

A Coca Cola ad invited viewers to vote online to decide who wins a race in the desert.

Some companies also make use of QR codes and Shazam to direct people to their websites.

“People tell me, ‘Are people really going to do that during the game?’ Yeah, they do. People have their phones in their hands all day long…We’re constantly with our mobile devices. Seven years ago, nobody had their mobile devices with them. So it was unrealistic, they scanned anything. That’s changed completely,” says Darrin Duber-Smith, marketing professor at Metro State University of Denver.

Duber-Smith says social media will dramatically change the way we watch the game.

“So whether it’s a code, whether it’s a scanable thing, or go to a website, those are all direct response mechanisms and seven years ago, you did not see them at all,” says Duber-Smith.

It’ll be a big night of people glued to the tube—and social media helping those viewers get in the game.

“It’s definitely a big night for Twitter or pizza places,” chuckles Reilly.

CP+B says it only wanted to show a tease of its Best Buy commercial with Amy Poehler because it wanted to keep some element of surprise and humor for game day.

The company is also debuting a Jello Pudding commercial post-Super Bowl.