30-second ad slots in the Super Bowl are highly coveted each year, and sell for millions of dollars. However, advertisers are not adding social media campaigns to accompany their ad slots during the 2011 game to create even more buzz around their product, and for free.

Audi and Mercedes-Benz are leading the Super Bowl social media campaigns. Both companies are relying heavily on everyday people to spread the word about the luxury car retailers in exchange for a variety of luxury prizes.

Audi has already spent $6 million for a 60-second advertisement slot during the game, but will also reap the benefits of free social media marketing. Audi is awarding trips and other prizes to the top-ten social-media users who advertise the company using Facebook and Twitter. Winner are based on creativity and amount of posts, and will be announced by game day.

Mercedes-Benz is following a similar format by launching the “World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race.” Two-person team will compete up until game day to accumulate the most Facebook “likes,” and Twitter “tweets.” The top team will win two brand new Mercedes-Benz cars.

In the age of social media, 30-second ad slots are no longer enough to stand up to the competition. Companies that will profit the most are those that utilize free and viral social media campaigns to their benefit; after all, social media has proven that everyday people are just as creative as the most prestigious advertising companies.

Dana Prainito