Super Bowl Ads 2012: The Battle For The Second Screen

Thanks to WGGB ABC 40/FOX 6, I have been talking about the Super Bowl ads a lot this year. More specifically, before the great game and after the awful tragedy (disclaimer: I’m a Pat’s fan), I have been discussing the highly measureable buzz created by the ads on their nightly news broadcasts. The difference-maker this year was the battle for the second screen – that laptop, tablet, or smartphone that 40% of you were holding during the game.  This year, ads were released early, hashtags were employed, and even a QR code appeared in an ad. Also, Coke developed a website where you could watch the game with the bears (really? why?).

Certainly the effort to create buzz before, during, and after the game was enjoyed last year. This year though, it was a whole new ballgame (hint: lots of game puns coming). Comparisons: last year’s winning Doritos ad had over 1 million views on YouTube. This year, Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller-like ad for Honday had generated over 10 million views before the coin toss (13 million as I write this two days after the game).  That’s quite a kick off. Just about every Super Bowl ad was released – some in long form – prior to the game.  Before the game, the metric which measured success was views and the clear winner was Broderick/Bueller.  There was one notable exception to ads taking a pregame warm-up: Chrysler’s ad featuring Clint Eastwood.

As Patriots fans now know all to well, what happens before the big game is all talk and it is what happens during it that matters.  A first look at “on the field performance” is offered by Bluefin Labs who captured online commentary in a 45 minute period immediately following the airing of the ads.  The winners:  H&M/Beckham with Chrysler/Eastwood following a close second. One can only wonder what would have happened if Clint stripped to his skivvies for Chrysler. The Voice/Betty White also made the top three of most talked about during the game.  What was the metric for success during the game? Mentions!

Another interesting look at in-game advertisement success is search activity.  Dan Zigmond from Google, and Horst Stipp from NBC Universal, suggest that high search volume related to a particular brand is a true measure of the potential to score sales points in the long run. So who were the winners of the search volume spikes?  Surprisingly, Kori Hill in Data Science reports that it is Bridgestone, Pepsi, and Budweiser.  One of the things that makes this analysis so fascinating is that the search spikes correspond to the relative time the ad aired – that’s a catch in my book.

BrandBowl 2012 used even another measure to determine game-day success: tweets.  Mullen and Radian6 teamed up for the second time to offer this interesting approach which not only suggests an overall winner but also most loved.  The winner due to a combination of tweet volume and sentiment scoring was the Doritos ad Man’s Best Friend which was produced for $20. Most loved was M&M’s Just My Shell which rocketed to a +41% positive in sentiment scoring (if I had tweeted on this one, I would have used the Hashtag #Ugh!).  GCAI has been using tools like Radian6 for a while now to measure mention volume and perform sentiment analysis on brands and trends we are following.  After a review of 40 such platforms including Radian 6, we settled on SM2 by Alterian. Recently, we blogged about the results related to Springfield’s June 2011 tornado and we served on an Online Reputation Management panel at Marquette University’s recent PR+ Social Media Summit.

Finally, there is the morning after measurement and two different analytics are available: USA Today’s highly subjective Super Bowl Admeter and the quite interesting Google Search Trends for 2/6/11.  Voting on USA Today’s Admeter was wrapping up and Doritos Sling Baby and Man’s Best Friend, Bud Light Weego, and M&M’s Just My Shell were all in the hunt for a top spot.  On the search trending side, Acura NSX and Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial were both trending as top five searches.  My winning vote coming out of the Super Bowl (aided by a full wrap of USA Today): Chrysler/Eastwood.  This ad was the talk of nightly news on Monday because of speculation on whether it might be pro-Obama and anti-Romney.

Conclusions? Pre-game release means nothing for game day. Long-form ads might generate considerable hype during the weeks before kickoff, but the boost does not last. Sex seems to sell to the ladies during the game – as H&M/Beckham won that distinction with women weighing in 80-20 in comparison to men. The boys made Clint’s day though, bringing him in at a close second and commenting 60-40 in comparison to women. Interestingly, men did not seem to go for the GoDaddy approach this year. Is it getting old or are we?  Like every good game, there will be some surprising plays.  Chrysler gets two-thumbs up for another well-played effort.

What’s next? Think about this….remember the popular Volkswagen ad of the 2011 Super Bowl?  Well,  The Force garnered over 49 million views over the course of the following year.  That’s more than twice as many as Rebecca Black’s Friday video – incredibly (I am smiling as I write this).  This year’s ad “Dog Strikes Back” has come close to doubling its predecessor only days after the event! Social media has arrived at the big game and will continue to dominate. Bluefin Labs tracked 12.2 million social media comments and suggests that it is a 578% increase over the previous year.  Twitter stated that during the final three minutes of the game tweet volume was up to an average of 10,000 tweets per second.  Clearly for social media and the Super Bowl, it is game on.

– By John Garvey, with research help by Mary Fallon.  Thank you to Harlan Spots, Ph.D. for the information on ad/search related data.