It was a thrilling Super Bowl comeback. 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.

  • Most-viewed ad online: Budweiser: “#BornTheHardWay” (more than 34.8 million views across top video platforms and websites through February 6). Budweiser’s spot was followed by’s “Disruptive World” and T-Mobile’s “#Unlimited Moves” in the TrueReach rankings. Source: Visible Measures.
  • Most-shared ad: Budweiser: “#BornTheHardWay” (435,892). Budweiser’s spot had almost twice as many shares as the next-most shared ad, Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams”. Source: Unruly (Stats compiled 2/6/2017. List does not include movie trailers.)
  • Most-watched ad on YouTube: Budweiser: “#BornTheHardWay”. Anheuser-Busch fared the best of all, with Bud Light’s “Ghost Spuds” coming second in YouTube views (as of 2/6 at 2AM ET). Google notes that ads connected with social and political themes performed very well, accounting for almost half of commercial watch time on Super Bowl Sunday. Source: Google.
  • Most effective ad: Hyundai: “A Better Super Bowl” (EQ score of 6.1/10). The EQ score is used 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. Hyundai’s ad scored well for authenticity, with 88% of viewers saying the content came across as authentic. Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” – the 2nd-most effective by EQ score – had the highest level of purchase intent, however, with 59% of those watching the ad saying they’d be interested in buying the product. Source: Unruly.
  • Brand with the most social mentions: Budweiser. (Analysis between 5PM on Super Bowl Sunday and 7AM the following day.) Budweiser’s commercial received more than 95,000 mentions, well ahead of Coca-Cola’s 44,000. Five of the 10 ads generating the most discussion on social media had a political element. Source: Talkwalker.
  • Brand with the most social actions: 84 Lumber. In an analysis of social actions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube from Feb. 5-6, 84 Lumber ranked fourth among all brands and tops among advertising brands in terms of total actions. The brand – which had just 7 posts during that time frame (compared to 38 for T-Mobile, for example), had the highest number of actions per post. Source: Shareablee.
  • Most tweeted-about ad: Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams.” Source: Nielsen.
  • Most talked about ad on Facebook: Audi’s “Daughter”. Source: Facebook.
  • Most mentioned brand on Twitter: Pepsi, followed by T-Mobile. Source: Twitter. Worth noting is that only 30% of ads featured a hashtag this year, according to Marketing Land’s analysis, down from a high of 59% three years ago. In fact, more ads this year (39% share) featured a URL than a hashtag.
  • Most effective ad, based on viewer surveys: Ford’s “Go Further” (which aired only during pre-game and post-game commercial breaks). “Lightheartedness” was the over-riding theme to the most successful ads, if Ace Metrix’s argument is to be believed (running counter to what YouTube and other sources found). While ads with political themes resonated online, Ace Metrix found that the ads that were best received by audiences were lighthearted and humorous. Source: Ace Metrix.
  • Most engaging ad, based on facial tracking: Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams” and Skittles’ “Romance” (tie). Realeyes agrees with Ace Metrix, also reporting that “humor and light-hearted entertainment were winning approaching among this year’s crop of commercials.” Celebrities and well-known characters also dotted the list, featured in 7 of the top 11 ads based on viewers’ emotions (measured by Attraction, Retention, Engagement and Impact). Source: Realeyes. Also worth noting is that an Experian analysis found that consumers who interacted with brands who featured more emotional ads (such as Airbnb and 84 Lumber) tended to skew towards women and youth (26-35), while those who interacted with brands airing funnier ads skewed more male.
  • Top brand by Google desktop text ad clicks: 84 Lumber. It was a “blowout” in this area, says AdGooroo, finding that 84 Lumber captured almost 59% of all US Google desktop search ad clicks on 154 Super Bowl-related keywords on Super Bowl Sunday. Source: AdGooroo. In related data, figures from Quantcast (reported by Search Engine Land) indicate that of the brands releasing Super Bowl ad content before the big day, Snickers saw the biggest lift in search volume.

Audience-Focused Data

  • Seven in 10 US 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 111.3 million viewers, slightly below last year’s event and also lower than the games played in 2015 and 2014. Nielsen also reports that there were 190.8 million social media interactions related to the game across Facebook and Twitter from 48.3 million people, with social activity peaking between 10:30PM ET and 10:34PM ET as the game ended.
  • For its part, Facebook IQ reports that 64 million people joined the conversation on Facebook and 44 million did so on Instagram. Facebook registered 240 million interactions and Instagram saw 150 million of its own, per the report. Facebook also notes that more than 90% of Facebook interactions took place on mobile devices.
  • Fans sent more than 27.6 million tweets about #SB51 during the telecast on Fox (including pre- and post-game), says Twitter, with the completion of the comeback ending up as the most tweeted moment.

Pre-Game Research

Roughly 189 million Americans are expected to watch Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, reports the NRF, on par with last year’s figure, based on a survey of close to 7,600 adults. Planned spending surrounding the game is down slightly this year, while attitudes surrounding ads remain steady.

This year almost one-quarter (24%) of viewers said that the commercials are the most important part of the Super Bowl, up slightly from 23% last year. Only a minority (43%) feel that the game itself is most important, while for others spending time with friends (15%) and the half-time show (12%) are the top draws.

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 stats were available. Close to one-fifth (18%) 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.

In other advertising attitudes reported by the NRF:

  • Some 16% believe that advertisers should save their money and pass along the savings to consumers, compared to 18% in 2008; and
  • 1 in 10 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 essentially unchanged over time.

Below is a brief list of Super Bowl-related research with links to sources for readers interested in delving more into the stats.

  • Attitudes towards ads may not have changed, much, but prices have: the average rate for a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl has doubled over the past decade, from $2.4 million in 2007 to $4.8 million in 2016, per Kantar Media. (This year the ads were selling at an estimated $5-5.5 million per 30-second spot.) Including pre- and post-game programming, Kantar Media estimates that advertisers spent $445 million last year on the event, a figure it says almost equals the combined ad revenue of the 4 major broadcast networks in an average week for their complete programming schedules. That number also surpasses the annual ad revenues for some cable networks. Kantar Media also reports that average ad time in 2007 was 43 minutes and 5 seconds, while last year ad time totaled 49 minutes and 35 seconds, the second-highest clutter in the event’s 50-year history (2013 being tops with 51 minutes and 40 seconds).
  • This decade, auto manufacturers have been the most likely to air ads in the Super Bowl, with 9 brands last year advertising during the game, according to Kantar Media. (An Experian analysis indicates that auto brands have been successful in generating social media following and engagement from their TV ads.) Last year’s top-spending advertiser, however, was Anheuser-Busch, with $33.6 million in spend. There are generally around 10 first-time advertisers (give or take) each year, representing around one-quarter of advertising brands. Last year, 7 of the advertising brands (or roughly one-sixth) invested more than 10% of their annual media budget in the Super Bowl.
  • While the NRF data suggests that 189 million Americans will watch the Super Bowl, a report from Unruly indicates that the audience for advertisers goes beyond those simply watching on TV, although TV is the most popular device for watching the game. Airing ads before the day of the game can have some benefits: 7 of the 10 most-shared Super Bowl ads last year were aired prior to the Super Bowl, according to Unruly’s analysis. Teasers, however, did not perform as well: despite accounting for 29% of the videos, they made up just one-tenth of online views and 2% of shares. Overall, shares of Super Bowl ads last year dropped by 17% from the record year before, with Unruly attributing the decline to a failure of the ads to evoke emotional responses from viewers.
  • Some brands have been teasing or releasing their ads before the Super Bowl this year – data indicates that through January 26, 14 brands had released ads or teasers associated with the game online. At that point, Skittles’ “Romance” was the top-performing spot in terms of earned views (close to 1 million), while’s teaser “Chez Feliz” was doing well in generating social actions. Indeed, Wix was the top performing brand in terms of digital share of voice.
  • In fact, the share of Super Bowl ads released on YouTube before Super Bowl Sunday grew by more than 200% between 2008 and 2016, according to a recent YouTube report [pdf]. The top 20 Super Bowl ads on YouTube from 2008-2016 together drove more than 440 million minutes of watch time, or the equivalent of watching the event itself more than 1.9 million times (based on a 4 hour game), it said. Of those top 20 ads, 18 were released on YOuTube before the event that year. The top ad during that 9-year period? Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” released in 2014. These ads can have an affect on subscriber numbers: among the top 20 ads, February represented almost 30% of the total new channel subscribers the year each ad was released.
  • While the Super Bowl is most popularly viewed on TV (and YouTube notes an almost 3x increase in the Super Bowl ad viewership on YouTube via TV screens), there’s plenty of second-screening that occurs, with Influence Central noting that 78% of survey respondents engage on social media while watching the game. These consumers’ top activity when using social media is sharing their thoughts on the game, per the survey.
  • A Burson-Marsteller survey of 1,000 consumers who plan to watch the Super Bowl this year and who watched it last year indicates that for more than 4 in 10 viewers, social media brings them closer to the game. Six in 10 viewers are interested in the extra content provided by brands on social media in addition to their commercials, and 1 in 3 say that an ad is what they’re most likely to post about on social media during the game.
  • Analysis from Facebook supports the idea that social media is used heavily around the Super Bowl. Facebook reports that in February of last year, 60 million worldwide generated 200 million posts, likes and comments related to the game. Not too far behind, 38 million people generated 150 million posts, likes and comments on Instagram. The vast majority of this happened on mobile devices, with 89% of posts, videos and photos being uploaded on mobile compared to just 11% on desktops. Interestingly, women accounted for the majority of conversations about the commercials, among both 18-34-year-olds (57%) and 35-54-year-olds (61%).
  • In terms of mobile usage, Braze (formerly AppBoy) data indicates that mobile usage drops during the pre-game show, but then increases after kick-off. App usage decreases again during the halftime show, while social messaging continues after the game’s end, and viewers are more likely to watch mobile video after than before the game.
  • Finally, an analysis from Yahoo reveals that more than half of Super Bowl ad searches on the search engine occurred outside of the day of the game, with 21% happening during the week before the game and 41% on the day after the game. Yahoo’s data also supports mobile as TV’s companion: a majority (57%) of game day queries came from smartphones or tablets last year.

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