Good news for advertisers: Super Bowl 2020 ratings lifted somewhat after a 10-year low last year. But how did this year’s ads fare? Were they as exciting as the Kansas City Chiefs’ impressive 4th quarter recovery to take the coveted trophy? Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers, mostly from research examining the digital impact of the commercials (as always, it’ll take some time to see what type of broader impact the commercials will have for advertising brands).
The following list highlights top advertising brands across various metrics – with sources and links provided. Following that list is another with more audience-focused data. As in previous years, it’s worth noting that there’s no clear-cut winner by way of the following metrics – some seemed to do better in some areas than others…
- Most viewed ad online: Amazon’s “#BeforeAlexa,” which had more than 97.4 million views across top video platforms and websites as of the Monday after the game. It is followed by Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” (76.2 million) and Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” (40.2 million). Source: AcuityAds.
- Top ad on YouTube: Amazon’s “#BeforeAlexa” ad clocked more than 60 million views on YouTube’s AdBlitz channel, as of the Wednesday following the game. Source: YouTube.
- Most effective ad: Google’s “Loretta”. This ad, featuring an elderly man using Google Assistant to help him remember his late wife, invoked intense emotional responses from viewers and was found to be 4 times more heart-warming and 12 times sadder than the average US ad, according to Unruly, but also almost twice as likely to make people smile. Source: Unruly.
- Top brand for generating online readership: Doritos. Its “The Cool Ranch” ad drove 85 times more readership online about the advertiser compared to an average Sunday in January. Source: Taboola.
- Top ad by digital share of voice: Jeep’s “Groundhog Day.” This spot had a 15.8% share of voice on game day, with more than 73 million TV ad impressions, more than 15 million earned online views and almost 169 million social impressions. It was followed in the rankings – which exclude movie trailers and show promos – by Facebook’s “Ready to Rock?” (8.7% share of voice) and GMC’s “Quiet Revolution” (7.0%). Source: iSpot.tv [download page].
- USA Today Ad Meter Winner: “Groundhog Day.” Jeep’s ad took the top ranking with an average rating of 7.01 out of 10. Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk” ranked second (6.9) followed by Google’s “Loretta” (6.77). Source: USA Today.
- Brand with the most social mentions during the game: Olay. The brand generated the most online mentions in this report, with 87.9k social mentions during the Super Bowl. Hulu came in second with 54k mentions. Source: Talkwalker [download page].
- Most-mentioned advertiser on social media during the entire day: Donald Trump. The current US President received 171,849 mentions with 75.6% expressing positive sentiment. As far as brands go, Avocados for Mexico was in the #2 spot with 69,090 mentions with 94.3% expressing positive sentiment. Source: Salesforce.
- Twitter Brand-Bowl MVP: Pepsi. The brand drove the largest overall conversation by creating an interactive experience by asking for predictions about the half-time show and offering prizes for the correct answers. Doritos had the most retweets for a single tweet, while Tums showed you don’t have to have an ad during the big game to get in on the action. It was able to garner the 4th-most mentions, despite not airing a national spot. Source: Twitter.
- Top advertising industry: Automotive took back the top spot this year, with brands taking 18% of total advertising minutes (the same share it had last year). Technology dropped to 13% share of ad time from 19% last year. Source: Ace Metrix [download page].
- Most emotionally engaging ad, based on facial tracking: Mountain Dew – Zero Sugar’s “As Good as the Original”. Using AI technology to track and interpret facial expressions and body language, RealEyes played each Super Bowl ad to a sample audience of 150 people. Based on proprietary metrics measuring attraction, engagement, impact and other factors, the ad, which features Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross in a remake of a notorious scene from “The Shining”, got the top score for effectiveness. Source: RealEyes.
- Top ad by biometric ranking: Doritos’ “The Cool Ranch”. Ipsos tested each commercial during the Super Bowl in real-time using an objective, scientific, non-conscious method that measured reactions among 40 football fans who were fitted with a wrist bracelet and finger biometric sensors. One of the high points measured during the Doritos ad was when the hit song “Old Town Road” started. Other high-performing ads such as Google’s “Loretta” tapped into more sentimental emotions. Source: Ipsos.
- Top brand by digital marketing excellence: TurboTax. Merkle scored brand activity across social media, digital media, SEO, and paid search, using various criteria for each. Turbo capitalized on each of these areas, ranking in the top ten for all but one. TurboTax concentrated its multi-channel campaign on a dedicated landing page featuring its ad and YouTube videos, and took advantage of the growing popularity of TikTok with a hashtag challenge that complimented the rest of its campaign. Source: Merkle.
- Top product contributing to increased Amazon market share: Coca-Cola Energy. By tracking and studying 120 products, Profitero found that Amazon.com’s market share of both the No-Sugar and regular product type gained market share an estimated 197% and 111%, respectively, on game day compared the average market share between January 1 to February 1, 2020. Source: Profitero.
This year more than two-thirds (69%) of homes with TVs in use on Super Bowl Sunday were tuned into the Super Bowl telecast. Preliminary estimates from Nielsen found that the game drew on average 99.9 million viewers, up from last year’s event (98.4 million). Nielsen also reports that there were 43.9 million social media interactions concerning the game across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (up from 32.3 million last year). Social media activity peaked at 8:26PM ET following the halftime show performance.
Fox Sports streamed the Super Bowl to an average-minute audience of 3.4 million. Citing data from Adobe Analytics, this is a 30% gain in streaming audience compared to 2019, which had a live stream audience of 2.6 million. Source: Light Reading.
Some 193.8 million adults in the US plan to watch Super Bowl 54 this coming Sunday, per a survey of more than 7,200 US adults from NRF. That’s upwards of 11 million more viewers than last year’s projected viewership of 188.5 million. The amount of planned retail spending surrounding the game has also grown from 2019’s $14.8 billion to $17.2 billion this year.
The average spending per person is expected to climb this year to $88.65 after staying at $81 for the past two years. And, once again this year the most popular spending area, for 80% of viewers, will be food and beverages, with team apparel and accessories being a distant second (11%).
Super Bowl Ad Stats
Super Bowl ad prices rose 3% for 2019’s Super Bowl 53, with the average price for a 30-second spot reaching $4.51 million, per the latest research from Kantar (Please note that dollar amounts are different from previous year reports due to a methodology change in the underlying source data.) This is the second-highest rate charged for the game, after 2017’s $4.7 million.
From start to finish, Super Bowl 53 had a total ad time of 49 minutes and 31 seconds. This is about 2 minutes less than in 2018, yet the number of spots rose to 91 in 2019 compared to 86 in 2018.
Super Bowl ad revenue reached its highest point of $498 million in 2017, and hasn’t been able to match that in the couple of years since ($411 million in 2018; $412 million last year). When broken down, pre/post game revenue stood at $76 million last year, while in-game ad revenue dropped somewhat from the previous year to $336 million. To put that figure in context, the $336 million spent on in-game advertising last year far exceeded all the money invested across the 7-game World Series, which totaled $ 191 million.
Here are some other stats from Kantar Media’s latest annual analysis:
- Thirty-second ads are still the norm, with half (51%) of ads in last year’s big game being that length. Longer ads (60-seconds or more), which accounted for 31% of all Super Bowl ads in 2018, dipped slightly to 28% in 2019, but remain more pronounced than in 2017 (19%).
- Anheuser-Busch InBev continued to be firmly at the top of the Super Bowl spenders list in 2019, investing $52 million in advertising. By comparison, Amazon which was #2 on the list, spent less than half as much ($23 million).
- There were 7 first-time advertisers in 2019. While this is higher than the 3 in 2018, it is still below previous years (2015: 11; 2016: 10; 2017: 10).
- As has been the case since 2011, Auto Manufacturers remained the top advertising category last year. Five automakers ran ads in 2019 for a total spend of $59 million. Media was in second place among advertising categories with a total spend of $27 million, followed by Food (excluding candy), with ad spend totaling $23 million.
Who’s Watching the Super Bowl for the Ads?
When NRF asked people about the most important part of the Super Bowl, it found a divide between men and women. Nearly half (47%) of men say the game is the most important part, while only 19% of women say the same. Instead, women (20%) are more excited about the commercials than men (13%), And, although some 29% share of women say they don’t watch the Super Bowl, 14% think the halftime show is most important (versus 7% of men).
For Super Bowl 52 (2018), brand recall looked to be on the rise, as Unruly reported that more than three-quarters of viewers could correctly identify the brands behind the ads. For Super Bowl 53, data from Unruly looked at something a bit different: shareability.
The percentage of viewers willing to share Super Bowl ads appears to be static: 38% indicated that they would share 2019’s Super Bowl ads, which compares to 37% who said they would do so in 2018 and 40% in 2016.
Just like with shareability, there were mixed results when it came to viewers being inspired to find out more about a brand after viewing ads. Last year 41% said they wanted to find out more, which is better than in 2018 (35%), but down from 2016 (43%). The same pattern repeats for purchase influence: last year’s ads inspired 42% of viewers to say they were willing to make a purchase off the back of the ads, up from the previous year’s 38%, but down from 2016’s 47%.
What Super Bowl 53 ads did have going for them was humor. Separate data from Unruly reports that 2019’s Super Bowl had the funniest ads in history. Some 11% of viewers found the ads humorous, compared to the 4% average across Super Bowls.
Ace Metrix echoes the emphasis put on humor in Super Bowl ads. Its analysis of Super Bowl ads between 2014-2019 found that 60% were funny (compared to 25% of all ads). It ranked sparkling water brand Bubly’s “Can I Have a Bublé?” as Super Bowl 53’s funniest ad.
For advertisers looking to get a laugh, shorter ads seem to be the way to go. The majority of the top Super Bowl ads in 2019 for each of these categories were 30 seconds. However, the majority of the most heartfelt and ingenious ads were 1 minute or more in length.