NRF-Viewers-Opinions-Super-Bowl-TV-Ads-2015-v-2008-Jan2015This year’s Super Bowl (which drew a record-setting TV audience) is in the rear view mirror, but research continues to emerge concerning the return on advertisers’ efforts. Unlike the game itself, which actually did feature a clear winner, there are plenty of advertising “winners and losers” to be found depending on which metric is used.

Of course, it may well be that it’s some time before winners can actually be pronounced. Nevertheless, there are plenty of studies emerging to proclaim victors. The following is a brief(ish) list of highlights from those studies.

  • The Super Bowl was the most tweeted ever, says Twitter, noting that more than 28.4 million tweets containing terms related to the game and halftime show were sent from kickoff through a half-hour after the game’s end.
  • The conversation on Facebook was also larger than ever: according to the social network, there were 265 million posts, comments and likes surrounding this year’s game, more than in any other year. With the Super Bowl such a social event, Marin Software data shows that on Super Bowl Sunday click-through rates for Facebook ads were up 9% over prior Sundays in January, while conversion rates increased by 415%.
  • How does much of that conversation happen? On mobile devices. Based on second-by-second application session starts, Flurry demonstrates that messaging apps saw above-average use during the Super Bowl, as users picked up their phones during big moments to discuss them. For what it’s worth, app advertisers generated plenty of downloads, per AppFigures’ analysis.
  • Onto the winners and losers: based on Twitter activity during Super Bowl Sunday, Engagement Labs determines that Budweiser’s ad had the highest engagement, while McDonald’s garnered the most retweets. McDonald’s also had the most mentions during the live window of the game, per Twitter’s count.
  • It probably helps to promote a hashtag: 50% of Super Bowl ads did so, according to MarketingLand’s count, down from 57% last year. Meanwhile, fewer than half (45%) of the 56 commercials tracked by wywy had a “visible reference to the advertised product on the homepage” of the brand’s website. Mobile sites fared even worse, a shame considering Criteo data indicates that mobile click activity increased for retailers during the game, even as desktop click activity fell.
  • It’s not just Twitter and a website that are needed to support advertisers’ gambit. Beyond those media, brands also need to support their campaigns across paid search, email, SEO and display, per RKG Digital. Giving extra weight to social over those other channels, RKG finds [pdf] that Wix did the best job of supporting its campaign across digital channels.
  • Wix also won on an important measure: actual viewing of its ad! Rentrak’s Ad Retention Index, which measured second-by-second viewing averages for each commercial, found that Wix’s ad was the most watched (index score of 110 compared to the average rating of the entire game), with Victoria Secret close behind (index of 109). It certainly helps that both ran right before the game’s final drive. Worth noting: Rentrak figures indicate that ad exposure was almost equal to viewership of the game itself.
  • Focusing on online video shares, Unruly notes that Budweiser is the Super Bowl victor for the third consecutive year, as its “Lost Dog” spot was the most-shared across Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Visible Measures, with its “True Reach” viewership count, agrees. Worth noting: 1.9 million of the Budweiser ad’s almost 2.2 million shares came prior to Super Bowl Sunday. Overall, online ad shares grew by 82% from last year, according to the Unruly statistics compiled on February 2, 2015. Interestingly, separate data from Unruly (as reported here by Campaign Live) suggest that while brand ads were viewed twice as many times on YouTube (125.7 million) as on Facebook (60.7 million), 70% of total ad shares as of February 2nd occurred on Facebook. Visible Measures, for its part, suggests that Facebook videos represented 25% of all Super Bowl ad views, a significant rise from years past.
  • As for ad viewing on YouTube? Pixability says that Budweiser has picked up the most by a long shot, with more than 21 million views as of February 2nd. YouTube itself has more – on trending game day ads – here.
  • Most brands were able to generate happiness and amusement among viewers, according to a Networked Insights analysis of “millions of posts, tweets and comments from across the social web,” but few came away with increased notions of trust. The winners on that end? Always and Carnival Cruises.
  • Overall web sentiment trended most positive for Avocados From Mexico, says General Sentiment, with Victoria’s Secret, Weight Watchers and Wix also recording high levels of positive sentiment. Not surprisingly, Nationwide Insurance generated the most dislike. In terms of earned media value (based on web exposure), Budweiser topped Always in “impact media value.”
  • Budweiser also earned the most social mentions during the game, concludes Amobee, which argues that the #LikeAGirl and Always campaigns had the highest positive sentiment.
  • Here’s something different: a consumer survey! Based on surveys run before and after the game, Accelerant research reveals that the majority of the most anticipated Super Bowl advertisers (special mention to Doritos and Coca-Cola) failed to meet consumers’ expectations. Budweiser was the only of the top 6 most-anticipated to pull through. Meanwhile, more consumers liked the Loctite and Esurance spots than had expected to.
  • Another survey, this time from Fluent, shows that of first-time advertisers, Mophie generated the largest increase in brand recognition from pre- to post-game, with Loctite next.
  • Finally, and keeping with the survey-based research, Bully Pulpit Interactive finds that Go Daddy did best at winning favorability among general consumers, while Budweiser was the victor in terms of recall.

Pre-Game Research

[Editor’s Note: The following was published prior to the game.]

The Super Bowl is almost here, and NBC has reportedly sold out of ad space at a record $4.5 million per 30 seconds. This article provides a quick look at some of the research that has emerged in the past few weeks surrounding the event, including advertiser spending and consumer attitudes to Super Bowl spots.

According to a recently-released survey from the NRF, slightly more than three-quarters (75.8%) of American adults will watch the Super Bowl this year, with this figure having slowly climbed from 69.7% back in 2007. Men (83.1%) are more likely to watch than women, although almost 7 in 10 women plan to watch. When sorting by age group, the survey results also show that youth are more likely to watch than their older counterparts, with 83.1% of 18-24-year-olds expecting to tune in versus 66.8% of adults aged 65 and older.

Viewers will be spending on food and beverages and other items for Super Bowl Sunday, at an estimated $77.88 per person, the highest figure going back at least as far as 2007 ($56.07).

Given 4 options as to the most important part of the Super Bowl, the largest portion of viewers said the game itself is most important, although only a minority (46.8%) share stated that to be the case. In fact, roughly one-quarter of viewers said that the commercials are most important to them. Another survey, from Burson Marsteller, arrives at a similar conclusion: 53% of respondents reported that their primary reason for tuning into the game is the football itself, while 23% watch primarily for the commercials.

As for attitudes to the TV commercials, 77.1% of the NRF’s survey respondents look at them as entertainment, a percentage that has remained relatively steady over the years. (And that entertainment should be humorous, according to the Burson Marsteller survey: 91% of respondents said that they’re more excited to see ads that feature humor than those designed to elicit an emotional response.)

Meanwhile, about 1 in 5 viewers responding to the NRF survey said the commercials make them aware of advertiser brands, the highest figure since that question was first asked in 2008, though only slightly higher than 2013’s result (19.5%). Similarly, 10.7% of viewers this year said that TV commercials influence them to buy products from the advertisers, again the highest figure on record, but only slightly above 2013’s result (10.5%). Male viewers (12.3%) are more likely than female viewers (9.2%) to be influenced by ads to buy products, while 18-24-year-old viewers (19.2%) are by far the most likely among age groups.

If (a big if) the 10.7% of the viewing population (of almost 184 million adults, based on NRF’s tally) watching were indeed influenced to buy products from advertisers as a result of watching the Super Bowl, that would mean that almost 20 million adults would be influenced by the commercials.

Are the ads worth the price tag? No, according to Communicus, which argues (by way of Ad Age) that advertisers performed below-average last year in terms of brand awareness and purchase intent. Even so, that’s based on survey data, which may not be a reliable indicator. Looking at it from another angle (digital activity), concludes that the investment is worth it: analyzing the 110 ads aired during last year’s game, finds that these ads comprised only 0.11% of all ads aired last year, but represented 9.4% of all digital activity across ads (including online video views, social media mentions and search queries.) Expect more studies on Super Bowl ad effectiveness to emerge after the game’s final whistle.

The following list provides a brief look at some other Super Bowl-related data.

  • The average price of a Super Bowl ad grew markedly in the past decade, from $2.4 million in 2005 to $4.2 million last year, per Kantar Media’s tally. Along with price inflation, ad clutter has also increased during that span, with ad time during the Super Bowl growing from 40 minutes and 15 seconds in 2005 to 49 minutes and 15 seconds last year. As a result, total ad spending more than doubled during the decade-long span, from $158.4 million in 2005 to $331.8 million in 2014. In fact, advertisers spent more on the Super Bowl last year than they did on all 7 games of last year’s World Series ($257 million) and almost double what they spent combined on the 3 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four games ($182.1 million).
  • Despite the hefty price tag for a Super Bowl spot, the past 5 years have seen an increase in the share of ads that are at least 60 seconds in length. Last year, 40% of commercials were at least that long, up from 18% in 2010. Kantar Media also notes the prevalence of auto manufacturer advertising in the Super Bowl, with auto advertisers spending $113.4 million on ads last year, more than quadruple their outlay from 2005 ($26.4 million). At the same time, auto manufacturers’ investments are expected to be down this year, as several past advertisers have dropped out.
  • During the past 5 years (2010-2014), Anheuser-Busch has been the top Super Bowl advertiser in terms of ad spend, per Kantar’s figures. Its Budweiser brands’ spots have fared well in Super Bowl ad shares, according to Unruly, which recently revealed that Budweiser claims 3 of the 4 most shared Super Bowl ads of all time. No wonder results from this YouGov survey show that Budweiser has the most anticipated ad of this year’s event, although a separate survey from Accelerant Research has Doritos highest in consumer expectations. Returning to video shares, it’s neither Budweiser nor Doritos in the ovearll lead: Volkswagen, with its 2011 spot “The Force,” takes that honor.
  • In fact, 55% of respondents to the Burson Marsteller survey claim that they’ll go online to watch more branded content during or immediately after the game. The survey also finds that the Super Bowl will be a social affair, with 57% of survey respondents indicating that they’ll use Facebook and/or Twitter during the game. SOASTA agrees: 32% of smartphone and tablet owners that it surveyed said they’ll use social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter during the game.
  • Keeping with the social media theme, some 61% of viewers surveyed by CrowdTap claimed that they will share ads on social media before the game, and roughly two-thirds will likely post about the ads during the game itself.
  • Interested in fans of the teams? PlaceIQ has some data for that. Compared to the average consumer, PlaceIQ’s report notes that Patriots fans are more likely to be in the 35-54 age group and be in a higher-income ($75k+) bracket. More data, such as fans’ top dining, retail, and entertainment destinations, is available here.
  • Google has some interesting insights on search trends in the run-up and aftermath of the Super Bowl, available here.
  • Finally, Brandwatch will be tracking brand advertisers’ social mentions at this site.

About the Data: Please follow the links provided for more details on the surveys and research cited.

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