Oikos Super Bowl ad, featuring actor John Stamos (right).

Watching this year’s batch of Super Bowl ads, it’s hard not to be struck by the fundamental difference between the “old” and “new” ways of marketing to consumers.

If you think about it, the Super Bowl experience is unique in that tens of millions of people around the nation watched exactly the same ads, in exactly the same sequence, at exactly the same time, as part of a collectively shared experience. How often does that happen in our little Filter Bubble on the Internet?

The old way of marketing to consumers is saturating them with 30-second TV spots in prime time for products that everyone buys from cars to potato chips and beer. The new way of marketing — made possible by Silicon Valley innovators like Facebook and Google — is about delivering a highly-contextual experience that mines information provided by your browsing habits and social graph to deliver the right ad at the right time. Coca-Cola, which heavily promoted its CokePolarBowl.com ahead of the big game, came closest to this type of experience by having polar bears that were rooting for the Giants and Patriots respond to the overall context of the game.

In the past, marketers attempted to capture the attention of the viewer for 30 seconds at a time, using a carefully controlled message. As the scientist from the Huluboratory would probably put it, marketers had an “evil plot to destroy the world” by turning our minds into mush. Now, marketers are increasingly aware that fans and consumers have the content creation tools at their disposal to change, improve and amplify any message. The Doritos ad, crowdsourced from loyal fans, is a celebration of this new approach that embraces online participation in creating the message.

Like it or not, the multi-screen experience, in which TV viewers simultaneously share their opinions online via Twitter and Facebook, is now the norm, not the exception. Two moments during this year’s Super Bowl — the epic ending of the game and Madonna’s halftime performance — were two of the most heavily-tweeted moments in the history of the Internet. Advertising that plays into this multi-screen reality by adding hashtags (Audi’s #solongvampires) or QR codes (used by GoDaddy) guarantees that ads will be distributed beyond TV and across any and all available platforms.

More than ever, marketers need to get their ads to “go viral.” If you were paying $3.5 million for a 30-second chance to reach America, wouldn’t you want a little bit more than 30 seconds if you could get it? This is harder than it sounds, of course, given the fickle tastes of fans.

There are soem go-to’s when it comes to achieving viral status — talking animals (dogs, bears, horses), cartoon-like violence (the woman head-butting John Stamos for yogurt), and, of course, as many celebrities as possible (Jay Leno, Clint Eastwood). The viral meme has become the basic building block of shared Internet culture.

This year, for the first time ever, most of the highly-anticipated Super Bowl ads were released online ahead of the game in order to maximize the chances of an ad going viral. Honda’s “Ferris Bueller” ad and VW’s Star Wars-inspired “The Dog Strikes Back” ad racked up millions of views before the spots even viewed during the game. Capturing this “buzz” ahead of an event is now paramount, given the risk that viewers may not actually see your 30-second spot when they’re hanging out with friends on Facebook during commercial breaks.

Advertisers are shifting more dollars than ever before into digital and mobile. As we think about the appropriate valuation for Internet companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter — all of which are increasingly reliant on advertising dollars for their future success — one question to ask might be: How are they going about capturing a greater share of the advertising dollars of all the automotive makers and entertainment brands that plunked down $3.5 million for a 30-second chance at becoming the topic of today’s Super Bowl water cooler chats?

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