The mountain of analysis concerning the Super Bowl and its ads continues to pour in. With a record average of 112.2 million viewers for the game, per Nielsen’s adjusted tally, brands had an opportunity to reach the largest TV audience ever recorded. So which brands did best? Which ads were tweeted about and shared the most? This article rounds up and sifts through the research surrounding the performance of the Super Bowl commercials.
First off, a look at the 10 most effective commercials of the Super Bowl, according to an analysis from Ace Metrix. To arrive at its rankings, Ace Metrix surveyed consumers who watched and scored each ad across a variety of standardized metrics. According to this analysis, Microsoft surprisingly scored the most effective commercial of the game, with its “Empowering” ad fetching an Ace Score of 710, way above last year’s high score of 665 (from Budweiser), and ranking as the second highest score in Ace Metrix history. Following Microsoft were Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” and Hyundai’s “Dad’s Sixth Sense,” each with a score of 681. Rounding out the top 5 most effective ads were RadioShack’s “Goodbye ’80s” (677) and Budweiser’s “Hero’s Welcome” (675).
On the other end of the spectrum, the least effective ad of the Super Bowl was GoDaddy’s “Bodybuilder” (432). GoDaddy also aired the fourth-least effective ad, “I Quit” (492), continuing its run of misery (at least according to Ace Metrix) from last year, when it also had 2 of the 5 least effective ads. Bud Light’s “Epic Night” (472) and GoldieBlox’s “Bring The Toys” (473) occupied this year’s 3rd- and 4th-least effective positions.
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.
While Ace Metrix had Microsoft on top, the USA Today’s Ad Meter, which gathered an online audience of 6,272 preregistered panelists from around the country, crowned “Puppy Love” the winner, making this the 12th of the past 14 years that Anheuser-Busch has aired the winning ad. The commercial was tops among both men and women, but came in second among 18-34-year-olds, ceding the top spot to Hyundai’s “Sixth Sense.” Meanwhile, among adults making $100-150k, Doritos’ “Cowboy Kid” was the top vote-getter.
Nielsen took a different perspective, rating the top ads by memorability and likability – with Microsoft nowhere to be found on either list.
Using the memorability measure, Budweiser’s 60-second “Hero’s Welcome” won out, with a general brand memorability index of 195, meaning that it was 1.95 times as memorable as the average Super Bowl ad this year. That ad had some distance from its closest competitor, Doritos’ “Cowboy Kid” (177), with Budweiser taking the third position with its “Puppy Love” spot (169). Doritos was the only other brand to place 2 ads in the top 10 by memorability, with its “Time Machine” (141) commercial in the #10 position. Of note, while Ace Metrix may have scored Go Daddy’s “Bodybuilders” as its least effective ad, Nielsen had it in the 8th spot by memorability.
In terms of likability, Radio Shack’s “The Phone Call” picked up the top spot by a significant margin, with an index score of 140, meaning that it was 1.4 times as likable as the average ad. Trailing Radio Shack were Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” (129) and Doritos’ “Time Machine” (126).
A total of 5 commercials made it onto both of Nielsen’s lists: Budweiser’s “Hero’s Welcome” and “Puppy Love;” Radio Shack’s “The Phone Call;” Cheerios’ “Gracie;” and Doritors’ “Time Machine.” Interestingly, Part 1 of Wonderful Pistachio’s 2-part ad featuring Stephen Colbert made it onto the top 10 by likability, while Part 2 was in the top 10 for memorability.
Another ad scorer, Touchstorm, looked at how video content fared on advertisers’ YouTube channels, coming up with a composite ranking of how well the ads sustained audiences based on views, likability, velocity/acceleration, and subscriber conversion. The winner? A familiar name by now, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.” Based on data through February 3rd, that spot was the most effective YouTube video campaign, ahead of Coca-Cola’s #AmericaIsBeautiful and RadioShack’s #InWithTheNew. Of note: Microsoft’s #empowering was the best-liked video campaign through that date.
How did ad executives perceive the ads? The Wall Street Journal surveyed went beyond consumers and surveyed ad execs too, revealing that among these respondents, Radio Shack, Chrysler, and Anheuser-Busch were the big winners.
Did these ads actually drive purchase intent? BrandAds ran the numbers via two surveys conducted across internet-connected devices – one completed by a control group prior to the game and another by a separate group exposed to the ads after the game.
This analysis found that Hyundia was the top-performing brand when measured by percentage increase in likelihood to purchase. Hyundia enjoyed a 39.5% lift in purchase likelihood, followed closely by Budweiser (37.8%) and Jeep (36.1%) and more distantly by Sony Crackle (25.6%) and Sonos (25%). The average increase across all the advertising brands was a more modest 6.6%. Some brands (16% of them) actually saw a decrease in purchase likelihood, according to the study, with Jaguar seeing the biggest drop (of 31.7%). Other insights from the study: lift in purchase likelihood was higher among men, under-18s, and those making less than $100k.
That study measured purchase likelihood among respondents who had seen the ads – but did viewers actually watch them? Apparently they did: Rentrak reports that while the game was a blowout, audience levels were stable throughout the game, with ad exposure nearly equal to viewership of the game itself. The most-watched ads of the game, per Rentrak, were from NFL.com, Kia, Audi, Coca-Cola and Nestle, each with an index of 104 compared to the average ratings of the game.
The following is a distilled list of the various research surrounding the social aspect of the game and its ads:
This portion of the article deals with research surrounding mobile and search, as well as other miscellaneous pieces.
Was it all worth it? Well, brands could have run an “anti-Super Bowl ad campaign.”
[Editor’s note: This portion of the article was originally published on January 28th.]
The average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl spot has exceeded $3 million in the past couple of years, and is expected to hit $4 million this year. With Super Bowl XLVIII looming, new research concerning ads for the big game has been pouring in: a recent survey suggests that the ads are as big a draw as the game itself, while other pieces of research have emerged looking at advertising effectiveness, online sharing, and brand rankings.
The Super Bowl audience has numbered more than 50 million TV homes over each of the past 4 big games, according to Nielsen data, and the NRF projects that 181 million Americans will watch the game this year. What should be enticing to advertisers is Kantar Media’s finding [pdf] that tune-out during the average commercial during last year’s game was just 0.7%, a tiny figure also several times smaller than the average 3-4% for regular programming. In fact, Kantar says that last year, the average Super Bowl commercial had an audience size that was 1.6% bigger than the average audience for the game.
That tallies with survey results from VB&P, which found that 78% of respondents would prefer to watch the Super Bowl with rather than without commercials. In fairness, the NRF study found that among viewers, 47.5% consider the game itself to be the most important part, versus 24.9% finding the commercials most important.
Also encouraging for advertisers, though: as Super Bowl audiences grow, so has the percentage of affluent viewers. Nielsen reports that from 2003 through 2013, viewership grew from 43.4 million to 53 million TV homes, while the percentage of households viewing the game making more than $100,000 per year concurrently grew from 14% to 26.8%. In other words, more than 1 in 4 households that watched the Super Bowl last year had incomes of more than $100,000. (Most of the increase in share of high-income households occurred earlier in the 10-year period, as the above chart demonstrates.)
Interestingly, while Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Super Bowl ad sales have outgrown viewership in the past few decades, the advertising cost of $35 per thousand viewers last year was actually in line with other prime-time TV programs, a reflection of the massive reach of the game.
But is the advertising worth the cost? A study from Communicus suggests that only 1 in 5 Super Bowl ads sell products, with the ads more likely to generate awareness than to persuade viewers to actually buy products. For its part, VB&P’s survey indicates that one-quarter of respondents would be more interested in buying a product after seeing it advertised during the Super Bowl, while 15% of respondents claimed they would buy something while watching the game. (That figure was almost twice as high among youth, and also far higher among men.) And according to the NRF survey, almost 8 in 10 respondents view the commercials as entertainment, with far fewer indicating that they make them aware of advertiser brands (16.9%), influence them to buy products from the advertisers (8.6%) or influence them to search online for more information (8%).
Small businesses are skeptical about Super Bowl advertising’s effectiveness, per survey results from Sage North America. Only 37% of small businesses surveyed said that a national commercial aired during the Super Bowl would help their business, compared to 60% who believed it wouldn’t. That’s a fairly incredible result if these businesses aren’t factoring in the costs of the ad in their perception.
In fact, few marketers with limited resources invest in Super Bowl ads, per Kantar’s data. Last year, 4 advertisers – representing 12% of all Super Bowl advertisers – invested more than 10% of their annual media budgets into the game. By comparison, in 2011, 24% of advertisers poured in that amount of their media budgets, and in 2010, one-third of advertisers (13 in total) invested that much.
So which advertisers are on track to win this year, and which brands have seen some measure of success in the past?
The research from Communicus indicates that Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” spot aired last year was the most effective at winning the consumer over at the cash register. Of note, Ace Metrix last year pegged the spot as its most effective.
This year, Brand Keys’ latest Super Bowl Engagement Survey [pdf], which measures how advertisers’ brand engagement ratings will be affected by their Super Bowl spots, has determined that Doritos, Coca Cola, Hyundai, and M&M’s will be the biggest “winners” in engagement. At the other end of the spectrum, Intuit, TurboTax, Squarespace and Volkswagen will likely lose the most engagement points.
Volkswagen may not score engagement points, but it can at least boast to having its Super Bowl ads shared online more than any other brand. With the VB&P survey indicating that 7 in 10 Americans will pay attention to ads before the game, 52% will re-watch ads online after the game, and that 36% will share their favorite ad, there’s a significant opportunity for additional exposure before and after the big game. Unruly has taken a look at the statistics regarding Super Bowl ad shares (sources here, here, here and here), and has come to the following conclusions:
A round-up of some other interesting statistics concerning Super Bowl ads follows.
Fun fact to end with? According to the Census Bureau, as of July 1 2012 the populations of Seattle and Denver were almost exactly the same, with the former having just 270 more residents (0.04% more) than the latter.
A roundup of data from the 2013 Super Bowl can be found here.
Topics: Automotive, Brand Loyalty & Purchase Habits, Connected Device Comparisons, Creative & Production, Household Income, Marketing Budgets, Men, Mobile Phone, Paid Search, Return on Investment, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Social TV & Multi-Screening, Spending & Spenders, Sponsorships, Sports, Tablet, Top Brands, Traditional, TV Advertising, TV Audiences & Consumption, Video, Women, Youth & Gen X
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