It was a fun and exciting Super Bowl. The game, that is… But how about the ads? Which brands fared best in the post-game analyses that continue to roll in? Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers, mostly from research examining the digital reverberation or impact of the commercials (it’ll take time to see what type of broader impact the commercials had 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. 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: Australia’s “Tourism Australia Dundee” (more than 58 million views across top video platforms and websites as of the Monday after the game). The Tourism Australia spot was followed by Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” (53.2 million) and Doritos and Mountain Dew’s “DORITOS BLAZE vs. MTN DEW ICE” (51.1 million). Source: Visible Measures.
- Top ad on YouTube: Amazon: “Alexa Loses Her Voice”. This ad topped the charts on YouTube’s AdBlitz (a hub where fans can watch ads), ahead of Bud Light’s “The Bud Knight” and Groupon’s ” Who Wouldn’t.” Amazon’s commercial also was the most-viewed on YouTube on the day of the game, as reported by Variety. Source: YouTube.
- Most effective ad: Toyota: “Good Odds” (EQ score of 6.1/10). The EQ score is used by Unruly to rank ads on their likely emotional, social and business impact, with “the intensity of emotions viewers felt while watching, brand favorability, authenticity and purchase intent” all also contributing. Toyota’s ad scored well for both authenticity and credibility, with 82% of viewers saying the content came across as authentic and credible. Toyota’s spot also achieved a brand recall of 70%. Budweiser’s “Stand By You” was the 2nd-most effective by EQ score (5.8), closely followed by “DORITOS BLAZE vs. MTN DEW ICE” (5.7). Unruly notes that brand recall for this year’s ads was higher than last year, with viewers tending to also find the ads authentic, credible and relatable. Source: Unruly.
- Best overall ad, per marketers: Amazon: “Alexa Loses Her Voice”. AdAge and Morning Consult teamed up to survey almost 4,000 marketing and advertising industry professionals, who gave the top overall rating to Amazon’s spot. Amazon’s commercial was deemed both the most “entertaining” and the most “effective,” though it only very narrowly beat out Budweiser’s “Stand By You” in the effectiveness rankings. Source: AdAge/Morning Consult.
- Top ad by digital share of voice: Doritos & Mountain Dew: Battle. This spot captured almost one-fifth (17.3%) share of digital voice on game day, with almost 73 million TV ad impressions, more than 1 million earned online views, and more than 78 million social impressions. It was followed in the rankings – which exclude movie trailers and show promos – by Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” (12.5% share of voice) and NFL’s “Touchdown Celebrations” (11.3%). Source: iSpot.tv.
- Top brands by offline brand metrics lift: Netflix, Hulu, and Jeep. These were the only 3 brands among Super Bowl advertisers to place among the top 10 gainers in positive buzz (people who have heard positive things about the brand), word-of-mouth (brands that people have talked about with friends) and purchase consideration. Hulu was the top brand for lift in positive buzz, while the NFL led all with its increase in word-of-mouth, and Netflix emerged victorious in purchase consideration gains. Source: YouGov.
- USA Today Ad Meter Winner: Amazon: “Alexa Loses Her Voice”. The ad took the top ranking with an average rating of 7.18 out of 10, with the commercial proving particularly appealing to women (7.32), people with income of $100-150k (7.28) and those ages 50-64 (7.48). The NFL’s “Touchdown Celebrations to Come” ranked second in a virtual tie (7.18) with Amazon’s spot, favored again by women but finding more appeal among lower-income and older viewers. Source: USA Today.
- Brand with the most social mentions during the game: Tide. Tide easily generated the most online mentions in this report, with almost 164k social mentions during the Super Bowl, of which only 11k related to the #TidePodChallenge. The Mountain Dew and Doritos collaboration was second with 115.1k mentions. Source: Talkwalker.
- Most-mentioned advertiser on social media during the entire day: Avocados From Mexico. This ranking looks at the entire day of Super Bowl 52 to see the most mentioned advertisers on social media. Avocados From Mexico was easily the leader in this ranking, with Pepsi trailing distantly. Salesforce’s data indicates that #Guacworld was the top advertising-related hashtag on Twitter, and that Avocados From Mexico was the top logo on both Twitter and Instagram. Source: Salesforce.
- Twitter Brand-Bowl MVP: Pepsi. Pepsi had the highest percentage of all brand-related tweets during the Super Bowl, while Doritos & Mountain Dew had the spot that drove the highest velocity of tweets-per-minute. Meanwhile, Jurassic World’s trailer had the most retweets for a single tweet during the game, and Ally Bank was the brand without a national spot that was able to drive the highest percentage of brand conversation. Source: Twitter.
- Most talked about ads on Facebook: Amazon, Doritos & Mountain Dew, NFL and Tide. (Note that these were listed in alphabetical order.) The most viewed video on Facebook was the NFL’s commercial recreating the scene from Dirty Dancing. Source: Facebook.
- Top brand by positive lift on social media: M&M’s. While the brand did not bring home the most total mentions, it did have the greatest positive lift on a percentage basis. That distinguished it from Michelob Ultra, which had the largest percentage change in mentions, but which had far more negative than positive mentions. Another brand which had an overwhelmingly negative reaction to its spot was RAM, whose ad generated displeasure with its use of audio from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an attempt to sell trucks. Meanwhile, this report also found that Pepsi’s commercial resonated best with Gen Z, while Coca-Cola resonated best with Millennials, as measured by total number of mentions. Source: Networked Insights.
- Ads that best promoted product: Jeep’s “Anti-Manifesto” and Wendy’s “Iceberg.” These ads were the ones in which the largest share of consumers rated the product the single best thing about the ad. In each case, almost one-quarter (24%) of respondents cited the Product as the top feature of the ad. Close behind were Persil Proclean’s “Game Time Stain Time” and Diet Coke’s “Groove” (each at 23%). Source: Ace Metrix.
- Most emotionally engaging ad, based on facial tracking: NFL’s “Touchdown Celebrations to Come.” Last year, Realeyes said that humor was a top feature of winning commercials – and as it turns out, this year’s top ads focused on humor. After testing over 75 videos with 5,000 viewers watching the Super Bowl ads, the NFL’s spot came out on top for ratings across the four metrics: attraction; retention; engagement; and impact. M&M’s “ft. Danny DeVito” and Jack in the Box’s “Jack vs Martha” also scored very highly, as did others. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Stella Artois’ “Water.org ft. Matt Damon” was the worst-rated. Source: Realeyes.
- Top ad by biometric ranking: Tide’s “It’s Yet Another Tide Ad.” Ipsos tested each of the commercials during the Super Bowl in real-time using an objective scientific non-conscious method that measured reactions among 45 football fans who wore biometric sensors. Tide won out in the Super Score, which was based on the ad’s ability to hook viewers emotionally during the first 5 seconds, excitement over the brand reveal in the last 5 seconds of the ad, the average excitement power of the ad, and the highest ad scene peak. Behind Tide was the NFL with its touchdown celebration spot featuring players from the New York Giants. Source: Ipsos.
- Top brand by digital marketing excellence: Avocados From Mexico. Merkle scored brand activity across social media, digital media, SEO, and paid search, using various criteria for each. Avocados From Mexico was first in the social media and SEO rankings, with real-time audience engagement on social media and smart use of hashtags as well as Super Bowl-focused landing pages and a strong organic SEO performance. The brand also tied for first in the paid search rankings, while Pepsi won out for the digital media rankings. Source: Merkle.
- Top auto brand by traffic lift: Kia. As a result of its “Feel Something Again” commercial, Kia Stinger saw a peak number of visitors during the game that was 3,960% over its average throughout the game. That’s according to a measurement of the publishers included in Jumpstart Automotive Media’s portfolio. Source: Jumpstart Automotive Media.
- More than two-thirds (68%) of homes with TVs in use on Super Bowl Sunday were tuned into the Super Bowl telecast, with preliminary estimates from Nielsen finding that the game drew an average audience of 103.4 million viewers, down considerably from last year’s event (111.3 million) and just the 9th-most watched game so far. The game did set a streaming record, per NBC. Nielsen also reports that there were 170.7 million social media interactions related to the game across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (down from 190.8 million last year), with social activity peaking at 10:20PM ET as the game ended. There were also 122.1 million organic interactions on Facebook in the US relating to the game, most (62%) sent by females.
- For its part, Facebook IQ reports that 62 million people worldwide joined the conversation on Facebook to the tune of 270 million interactions, up from last year’s 240 million. Facebook also notes that roughly 90% of Facebook interactions took place on mobile devices.
- There were 2.1 billion impressions generated on Twitter during the broadcast of the Super Bowl, per Kantar Media. Some 39% of Super Bowl-related tweets were shared by women, down from 42% in last year’s game.
- Super Bowl ads were viewed 16% more times on YouTube this year than last, reveals YouTube. Viewership of these ads on living room devices (such as Roku, Chromecast, etc.) grew by 52%, with 1 in every 8 Super Bowl ads on YouTube viewed on such a device.
Roughly 188.5 million Americans are expected to watch Super Bowl 52 on Sunday, reports the NRF based on a survey of close to 7,300 adults, and while that may be an optimistic forecast, it’s steady from last year. Planned spending surrounding the game has rebounded this year, up by 8.5% to an expected $15.3 billion. That would almost match the previous survey high of $15.5 billion projected in 2016.
On average, adults will each spend slightly more than $80 surrounding the game, with spending highest among 25-34-year-olds ($118). The most popular spending area is food and beverages, planned by 82% of those who expect to watch the game. Separately, a RetailMeNot survey reported here found average planned spending on alcohol to be $44 per person. And a survey from Valassis suggests that those spending on the game will most likely to do so from local businesses, with most going in-store to shop.
All told, about 3 in 4 adults (76%) surveyed by the NRF plan to watch the game. Research from Unruly has likewise found [download page] that 23% of adults don’t watch the game, so it’s fairly safe to assume that the Super Bowl will attract another giant audience (Nielsen tallied 111.3 million viewers for last year’s big game).
That reach is obviously the big prize for advertisers, who are shelling out increasingly high amounts of money for 30-second spots. Will they find an engaged audience?
This year we’re taking a slightly different approach to this article, breaking it up into 3 key themes surrounding the big game: advertising stats and trends; attitudes towards the ads; and ad effectiveness.
Super Bowl Ad Stats
Super Bowl ads this year are expected to again carry a high price tag, of more than $5 million per 30-second spot.
In fact, the average price of a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl has climbed consistently over the past decade, from $2.7 million in 2008 to $5.05 million last year, per research from Kantar Media. What’s interesting to note is that the increases appear to have accelerated in the past few years, perhaps as other high-reach advertising opportunities on TV drop alongside viewing declines.
Along with rising costs, Super Bowl commercial time has also increased. Back in 2008, the 81 spots aired during the big game resulted in 43 minutes and 30 seconds of total ad time. Fast forward to 2017, and there were 102 spots (just under the decade-long high of 104 set in 2010), with these accounting for 51 minutes and 30 seconds of ad time during the game.
Combining the highest costs with the greater time results in… more revenues! A lot more revenues. Last year, Kantar Media tallied $534 million in Super Bowl ad revenues, more than double the figures from 2008 and 2009 ($261 million each).
In-game ad revenues have soared, with last year’s $419 million representing a 2.25x greater amount that 2008 ($186 million). It’s worth noting that last year’s game included overtime, which resulted in more ad time and in-game ad revenues.
Ad revenues from pre- and post-game programming also leapt last year, though, soaring past $100 million for the first time, all the way to $115 million.
Here are some other statistics from Kantar Media’s latest annual analysis:
- Last year, 15% of Super Bowl ads were 15 seconds or shorter, up from 3-5% of ads in the years prior, while the share of ads that were 60 seconds or longer fell to 19% from a high of 41% in 2014;
- Anheuser-Busch was the top-spending parent company again last year with $35 million invested, generally on par with its leading figure of $34 million the year prior;
- The number of first-time advertisers last year was steady at 10, though that represented a slightly smaller share (20%) of total advertisers than in 2016;
- More than one-fifth (22%) of the advertisers last year spent more than 10% of their annual media budget just on the Super Bowl, representing the highest share of advertisers doing so in the past 5 years;
- Auto Manufacturers continue to be the top advertising category in the Super Bowl, responsible for $70.7 million in spending last year, and followed by Motion Pictures ($37.9 million) and non-alcoholic beverages ($22.7 million); and
- The $419 million spent on in-game advertising last year exceeded all the money invested across the 7-game World Series, which totaled $414 million.
Consumer Attitudes Towards Advertising
This year almost one-quarter (24%) of viewers responding to the NRF’s survey said that the commercials are the most important part of the Super Bowl, on par with last year’s results. Only a minority (41%) feel that the game itself is most important, while for others spending time with friends (15%) and the half-time show (14%) are the top draws. In fact, for women, the commercials are the most important part, slightly more so than the game.
Super Bowl ads are generally seen as entertainment, as they have been for some time. Some 78% look at them as entertainment, basically unchanged from 2008 (76%), the first year these figures were available. Close to one-fifth (19%) indicate that the ads make them aware of advertiser brands, also steady from 2008 (17%). The one area where there seems to have been some movement over the past decade or so is in purchase influence: while only 1 in 10 this year claim that the ads will influence them to buy products from the advertisers, that’s nevertheless up from just 6% in 2008.
A separate survey from InstartLogic, reported here, found that for almost half of adults watching, the ads is the most important online activity during the game. A surprising 87.2% claimed that they would be affected by the ads.
In other advertising attitudes revealed by the NRF’s research:
- Some 16% believe that advertisers should save their money and pass along the savings to consumers, compared to 18% in 2008; and
- Just 9% say the commercials make the game last too long, versus 11% in 2008.
In other words, save for some increases in stated purchase influence, perceptions regarding Super Bowl ads have remained largely unchanged over time.
Hoping to go viral with that Super Bowl ad? (OK, only a very select number of readers will nod their heads.) Just a few will gain that distinction, per research from Unruly [download page].
The firm indicates in a whitepaper that the top 5 ads last year accounted for the majority (56%) of all video ad shares online, with the other 129 creatives combining for the remaining 44% share.
Another way of putting it? The top ad by online shares – Budweiser’s #BornTheHardWay – was responsible for fully half as many shares as the combined total of the 129 lesser-shared creatives.
Unruly reveals that three-quarters of ads last year were released before Super Bowl Sunday, which can help achieve more than one viral peak. But maybe be careful of just releasing a teaser: Unruly says that while almost one-third of videos were teasers, they only combined for 7% of shares.
Instead, perhaps focus that budget on extended cuts: while extended versions of shorter ads were just 6% of videos, they garnered more than one-quarter (26%) of overall shares.
Unruly notes in its research that last year’s ads were more engaging to older viewers, while younger viewers were more likely to consume content across platforms, making a multi-platform approach vital to reach them.
In other tips, Unruly recommends:
- Focusing on eliciting emotions in Super Bowl creative, as the top-scoring ad with panelists was able to bring forth intense emotions from viewers; and
- Paying attention to branding within the messages, as brand recall was 15% lower than the average US spot.
Ace Metrix, for its part, agrees that “ads must engage consumers on an emotional level.” In its analysis of successful ads, Ace Metrix finds that the most humorous ads are generally short (30 seconds), integrate the product into the joke, and often feature children or animals, with the characters being the single best thing about the ads.
The most heartwarming ads, meanwhile, average about a minute in length, and many times tug at the heart strings with themes including family connections that span generations, scenes from “real life” and generosity.
The average Ace Score (which measures ad effectiveness across several measures) has been highest on average for minute-long ads, which may reflect higher-than-average scores for heartwarming ads that tend to be longer.
The vast majority of ads from 2010 through 2017 involved some element of humor (72%), while celebrity (42%) ads were less common. In fact, likability scores during that time period were higher for ads without celebrities than for those with them. Ads with animals and/or babies/children also tended to score much better in likability than those without.
Something to keep in mind regarding ad effectiveness is gender. Nielsen recently reported that there’s now an almost even split in Super Bowl viewership by gender: the audience for last year’s game was 53% male, 47% female. Likewise, a new Hitwise study reveals that while women represent 42% of NFL fans, they’re almost half (48%) of Super Bowl fans.
One commercial highlighted in Hitwise’s study is Kia’s “Hero’s Journey,” which was a “light-hearted” ad featuring Melissa McCarthy. Searches for the particular Kia model spotlighted in the ad soared after the game. A key demographic that searched for the Kia Niro after the game? Women ages 25-44, which Hitwise suggests could have been a result of Kia’s choice of a female comedian as their celebrity. (More data surrounding the Super Bowl audience and ad effectiveness from Hitwise is available in its report, which can be downloaded here.)
Meanwhile, the question remains: are the ads worth it? Various studies over the years have debated this, but a recent one makes the claim that yes, they are.
A study published in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science examined the link between Super Bowl viewership across the top advertising markets in the US and corresponding sales in those markets for advertisers brands during the 2006-2011 period.
Focusing on the beer and soda categories (top-spending ones as outlined above), the authors estimated in one highlighted finding that “sales of Budweiser can increase as much as 10 six-packs per thousand households for a ten-point increase in ratings during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.” That’s good for Budweiser, which is reportedly now only the 4th-most popular beer in the US.
Read more about the research in Marketing Science here.