[Editor's note: This article was updated in early 2013 with new research pertaining to ad performance and second-screening.] Analysis of the Super Bowl ads continues to pour in. With an average of 108.7 million viewers for the game, per Nielsen’s tally, brands certainly had an opportunity to reach a huge audience. So which brands fared best? Which ads were tweeted about most? Did advertisers experience any post-game lift? This article rounds up and distills the research surrounding the performance of the Super Bowl commercials.
First off, a look at the 10 most memorable commercials of the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen’s analysis. Using this measure, Doritos’ 30-second “Goat 4 Sale” wins out, with a general recall index of 138, meaning that it was 1.38 times more memorable as the average Super Bowl ad this year. Close on its heels, Taco Bell’s 60-second “Goodnight Mr. Goldblatt,” with a recall index score of 137.
Notably, Budweiser’s “Clydesdale & Trainer,” which was seen as a top commercial in several other analyses (see below), did not make it into the list of top 10 most memorable commercials. That commercial did make it onto Nielsen’s top 10 most liked commercials, in 4th place with a likability index score of 171. Doritos topped that list also (index of 221), followed by M&M’s “I would do anything for love” (200) and Taco Bell’s aforementioned spot (182).
The general recall index was calculated by taking the general recall score of all Super Bowl ads (% of viewers who remember seeing the ad) and indexing versus the mean general recall score. The likability score was calculated the same way, but instead using the percentage of viewers who liked an ad as the basis.
An analysis of the most effective ads (as opposed to most likable or memorable), as reported by Ace Metrix, comes to different conclusions. To arrive at its rankings, Ace Metrix surveyed 500 consumers who watched and scored each ad across a variety of standardized metrics. According to this analysis, Budweiser scored the most effective commercial of the game, with its “Brotherhood” ad fetching an Ace Score of 665, slightly below last year’s high score of 671 (by Doritos and M&Ms). Following Budweiser, American Dairy Association also performed well with its “Morning Run” ad (644), which slightly beat out Coca-Cola’s “Security Camera” (641). Rounding out the top 5 most effective ads were Doritos’ “Goat 4 Sale” and Mercedes-Benz’s “Soul,” both with a score of 626. (All ads can be viewed on the Ace Metrix website at the link above.)
On the other end of the spectrum, the least effective ads of the Super Bowl belonged to Calvin Klein’s “Concept” (362), with GoDaddy.com occupying the other bottom 2 spots (“Perfect Match” – 413, and “YourBigIdea.CO – 452).
The Ace Metrix scores reflect the persuasive nature of the commercial (through desire, relevance, information, attention, change, and likability) and its watchability. Combined, the overall effectiveness score is designed to understand how a commercial performed from the twin angles of voluntary consumer consumption and the business goal of the advertiser.
So how did auto manufacturers fare? Data from Jumpstart Automotive Group shows that some Super Bowl automotive advertisers did well with online car shoppers. Looking at traffic across its network of automotive websites, and measuring the advertisers’ share of online car shopper traffic, Jumpstart found that the Lincoln MKZ gained the most ground, increasing 20% in share on Super Bowl Sunday when compared to the prior Sunday, and up 90% on Super Bowl Monday when compared to a week earlier. Of note, 3 of the top 5 advertisers in terms of traffic gain ran more than one ad, although Kia saw a 0.5% decrease in share while running multiple spots.
What about awareness and consumer intent? Despite producing some entertaining commercials, only a minority of advertisers (not just auto advertisers) experienced a significant lift in consumer perception, per YouGov’s BrandIndex, and as reported by AdWeek.
Still, according to survey results from RadiumOne (reported by Adotas), 45% of respondents indicated they would research a brand based on the Super Bowl ads. Notably, those respondents recalled best the commercials for Volkswagen, Kia, and Hyundai.
The RadiumOne results also suggest that one-third of Super Bowl viewers posted on social networks about the spots.
The following is a list of research about the social side of the Super Bowl.
Believe it or not, there was also some research that wasn’t strictly about social media! The following is a (much shorter) list highlighting some of the more interesting non-social-related findings. (The most recent additions to this article begin the list.)
[Editor's note: This portion of the article was originally published on January 30th.]
The upcoming Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event of the year, is obviously also a huge event for advertisers, who spent an average of $3.4 million per 30-second TV spot last year, according to Nielsen. Recent surveys suggest that a significant proportion of viewers will watch as much for the ads as for the game, while other pieces of research have emerged looking at advertising effectiveness, online sharing, brand rankings, and viewing platforms.
One survey finds that while TV will remain the dominant viewing medium, younger consumers will be keeping their connected devices nearby, too. That survey, by Harris Interactive on behalf of Hanon McKendry, indicates that although at least 9 in 10 viewers believe that TV is at least somewhat important to have the best game day experience, 59% of 18-34-year-olds said the same about their computers. A large proportion of that young demographic agreed that their smartphones (47%) and tablets (39%) are an important piece of the experience.
The Hanon McKendry survey also finds that 56% of respondents who plan to watch the Super Bowl will tune in as much or more for the commercials as for the game itself (66% female / 47% male). That aligns with survey results from Lab42, which found more respondents indicating commercials to be their favorite aspect of the game than the game itself (39% vs. 28%). That study also noted that 44% of women prefer the ads, while 41% of men prefer the game. Still, survey results from the NRF, which predicts 179.1 million Americans will tune in for the game, show a contrasting view. Those results reveal that 45.3% of viewers believe the game is the most important part of the Super Bowl, compared to 26.2% who agree that it’s the commercials.
Below is a summary of other research emerging about the game.
Subscribe now to receive more charts and articles like this each day in your inbox. A fast read in a clean, mobile-friendly design.