Why Brands Should Embrace Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is all about creating real-time interactions and engaging with consumers. Over the years, there has been a noticeable increase in this tactic among a variety of brands. Why? It all has to do with social media. Social media and its ability to provide real-time responses has allowed brands to interact with consumers unlike they ever have.

Understanding Real-Time Marketing

It’s important to understand that real-time marketing isn’t necessarily something you can plan for. It not an ad campaign that you spend months researching. It is often an unexpected moment that brands take and turn into a worthwhile opportunity.

However, when employed properly, this tactic is wildly successful. Keith Kakadia, CEO of Sociallyin believes that, “Real-time marketing has a better chance of creating buzz because it’s timely and relatable, it also strikes an emotional chord with the audience in a way that other marketing tactics can’t.”

Be Ready for the Unexpected

Despite the challenges that come with this tactic, there are a few things that brands can and should be aware of in case the perfect moment arises to use this strategy.

Understanding Your Audience Saves Time

Arguably one of the most important things to be aware of is if real-time marketing is an appropriate strategy for your brand.

Jennifer Streck, VP of Client Strategy at Response Mediastresses the importance of brands having a deep understanding of their audience.

She said, “The spontaneous nature of the moments that drive real-time marketing can make it challenging to fully anticipate, but knowing your target audience, what they are interested in, and what is going on in their world can help brands consider potential scenarios and responses.”

“The spontaneous nature of the moments that drive real-time marketing can make it challenging to fully anticipate, but knowing your target audience, what they are interested in, and what is going on in their world can help brands consider potential scenarios and responses.”

    – Jennifer Streck, VP of Client Strategy, Response Media

This idea is key! By having a deep understanding of your target audience you can make sure that your brand is responding to the unexpected moment in a way that makes sense for your brand. There would be nothing worse than engaging in real-time marketing only to have utilized a tone that doesn’t reflect your target audience. You would end up with a failed campaign and it could even end up as a PR disaster.

The Benefits of Active Listening

Live streams and social media make it possible for brands to constantly watch. Social media departments have entire teams dedicated to watching what they are tagged in. This is done for many reasons, but one of the great benefits of constantly watching and listening is that you can be ready for the unexpected.

“Sometimes bad situations can become really good publicity, depending on the circumstances, so it’s imperative that you keep your eyes and ears open.”

    – Keith Kakadia, CEO, Sociallyin

Kakadia believes, “The only way to be really prepared is to have a team watching the conversation who can be ready to do whatever is needed to keep conversations going, keep difficult situations under control and take advantage of any opportunities that might arise.”

Real-Time Marketing in Sports

Real-time marketing is quick, creative, and often viral. And, it is because of these characteristics that real-time marketing is the most prevalent in the sports community.

Bud Light Wins Big at the World Series

Probably the most recent and viral example of real-time marketing involved Bud Light and a Washington Nationals fan. Jeff Adams became an instant meme during Game 5 of the 2019 Major League Baseball World Series and for a very good reason. He caught a home run ball with his chest while double-fisting cans of Bud Light. And, even more impressively he didn’t spill any of his beer. It resulted in the following ad.

Bud Light beer guy; example of real-time marketing

Bud Light took this unexpected moment and turned it into a viral sensation. They released ads that payed tribute to Adams. In addition to all the ads, they sent him to Houston for Game 6 of the World Series wearing his very own shirt!

This is a prime example of just how fast this marketing strategy can be. Bud Light told News4 that they found Adams and made him the star of a nationally televised ad all within just 48 hours.¹

These campaigns resulted in an estimated $8 million in exposure for the brand. That is the true power of real-time marketing.

Ann Fishman, a New York marketing consultant told News4’s Andrea Swalec, “You don’t create these moments; you capitalize on them.”¹

Oreo Super Bowl tweet; real-time marketing

All Eye on Oreo During 2013 Super Bowl

This is often referenced as one of the best real-time marketing examples. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo capitalized on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s power outage with a single tweet.

The next day, Huffington Post stated, “one of the most buzz-worthy ads of the Super Bowl on Sunday wasn’t even a commercial – it was a mere tweet from Oreo during the blackout.”²

Kakadia said, “Their social media team was definitely on the ball and ready to go, which is one of the most important things when it comes to social media because the landscape is constantly changing.”

Budweiser; real-time marketing

Budweiser Approves Celebration

In December 2019, Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Fisher was fined $14,037 for unsportsmanlike conduct. What exactly was his celebration? Fisher dumped two beers on himself.

Budweiser’s response to the celebration… picking up the tab for Fisher’s fine and giving the money to the charity of his choice.³

Other Examples of Real-Time Marketing

It’s undeniable that this tactic is most prevalent in the sports community. However, other industries also find ways to participate in current trends.

Burger King Gets Artsy

burger king recreates banana art

It’s not often that a piece of artwork becomes so well-known outside the art community. Especially when that piece of art is simply a banana duct-taped to a wall. But nonetheless, that’s what happened in 2019 and for a while, it was all the world could talk about.

Burger King saw an opportunity to join the Art Basel banana conversation and that’s exactly what they did. They were one of the first to join this viral conversation. On social media, they featured a French fry taped to a wall. However, the ad carries a mocking tone as it indicates it will leave the consumer only one euro cent poorer.⁴

NASA does real-time marketing

NASA Joins the Oscar Conversation

2014 was quite a while ago so let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. That year, a few of the more well known Oscar nominations included: The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, The Great Gatsby, and Gravity.

NASA showed us how to use active listening to your benefit as they stole the spotlight during the Oscars that evening.

All it took was a perfectly time tweet that congratulated the movie Gravity in a rather humorous way.

The Importance of Timing

When it comes to this marketing strategy, timing is everything. However, Streck indicates that every scenario is different therefore each window of opportunity varies. She elaborated that major franchises such as Game of Thrones or the Avengers can sometimes have a longer pop culture lifespan. This gives brands days, weeks, or even months to capture the attention of consumers.

“Moments tied to something that happened at an athletic or other similar event require faster responses before the energy and focus shifts to the next things.”

– Jennifer Streck, VP of Client Strategy, Response Media

On the other hand, this doesn’t usually apply to the sports industry. Streck said, “Moments tied to something that happened at an athletic or other similar event require faster responses before the energy and focus shifts to the next things.”

The Result of Poor Timing

The internet ensures that everything you do is on display for the world to see. And, social media is there to make sure that news is dispersed so the world sees it. Today, it is more important than ever to consider the timing of advertising and marketing campaigns. If you don’t carefully research pop culture and world news, your brand could end up in an unforeseen PR disaster.

Kakadia emphasizes that, “If you don’t carefully time your content, and even more so when it comes to moment marketing, you can end up in a really big mess.”

Implementing Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is easy in theory, but when it comes to large brands implementing this tactic it becomes much more difficult. You have to be quick! As we discussed, timing is crucial and will ultimately make or break the ad. Even though it is rather difficult to prepare for unexpected moments, one thing you can do is have an agency that is constantly listening to your social channels. Find the perfect agency partner for you at Agency Spotter! 


We are extremely appreciative to Jennifer Streck of Response Media and Keith Kakadia of Sociallyin for all the amazing insights you see throughout this article. Learn more about their agencies and capabilities above.  

Related Links:


¹ Washington News4 | ² Huffington Post | ³ CBSSports | ⁴ Creative Bloq


Nicole Schuster
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