Super Bowl Viewers Expected to Use Facebook, Twitter at Record Levels This Year

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TIME Illustration; Getty Images

What, you were just planning on sitting back and enjoying the big game on a single non-interactive screen? What a slacker. Through the course of the upcoming Super Giants-Patriots matchup, viewers are expected to Tweet, post on Facebook, juggle multiple devices, and be social with a group much larger than the crowd elbowing for couch space in the living room. Or at least that’s what advertisers want scene on Super Bowl Sunday to be like.

The Super Bowl has transcended being just a one-day event, morphing into an entire season for advertising, with leaked and “sneak peek” commercials appearing online, in movie theaters, and on TV weeks before the actual game. Considering that a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl costs an average of $3.5 million, it’s understandable why advertisers are trying to get as much for their money before, during, and after the airing of their ads. One relatively new way advertisers are milking their campaigns for all they’re worth is by encouraging viewers to post online and Tweet—not about the game, but about the commercials.

MarketWatch reports that Facebook and USA Today are pairing up for an “Ad Meter” app, where viewers can rate Super Bowl ads and share them with Facebook friends. The ratings will be factored into USA Today‘s annual commercial ratings, which in the past were determined solely by a panel of 300 viewers. Now, members of the world’s largest social media platform will also have a say.

(MORE: The Super Bowl Has Morphed into an Entire Season for Advertising)

To get viewers over to Coca-Cola‘s Facebook page—or to entice them to follow the beverage company on Twitter, or visit its website—Coke is pairing up its iconic polar bears with special online features. According to Reuters, the bears, who are apparently smarter than the average bear, will have their own Twitter hashtag (#GameDayPolarBears), and they’ll be commenting on the game and responding to fans via all sorts of social media.

A San Francisco Chronicle/Bloomberg report, meanwhile, says that viewers will be able to check out online components that complement many Super Bowl commercials just by pointing a smartphone at the TV:

About one-third of Super Bowl advertisers will offer a shortcut for viewers to visit them online without typing in a URL. Their ads will work with smart-phone app Shazam, best known for its “name that tune” use of identifying songs’ titles and artists.

(LIST: 15 Must-Have Gadgets for Super Bowl Sunday)

E*Trade, which will be airing a new “Talking Baby” commercial on Super Bowl Sunday, conducted a survey that indicates nearly one-third of viewers plan on using Facebook or Twitter during the game. What with more than 100 million Americans expected to tune into the Super Bowl, somewhere north of 30 million of them will be Tweeting and/or using Facebook during the game.

Can’t we at least agree to one rule, though? When the game’s being played, all eyes should be on the TV, not a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. If you want to see what the Talking Baby or Coke’s Polar Bears have to say more than what’s happening on the field, do the right thing: Get off the couch and go somewhere else to make space for a true fan.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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