Ah, the Super Bowl—the annual arranged marriage between sports’ most-viewed event and TV’s single-most expensive ad slot. While brands are guaranteed an audience at least 10 times larger than any other televised event, the debate persists as to whether the current $5 million price tag outweighs the value, with costs continuing to grow year after year.
A boost in brand recognition has always been the big takeaway for Super Bowl advertisers, but quantifying that recognition is still an art rather than a science—and is largely up to interpretation. According to Fortune, some 2016 advertisers, like Wix.com, attributed a significant revenue increase to their Super Bowl campaigns. On the other hand, veteran advertisers like Coca-Cola or Budweiser don’t necessarily expect a measurable impact and simply return due to FOMO (or fear of missing out).
In recent years, the success of Super Bowl ad campaigns has been unofficially measured by the viral status advertisers achieve on social media shortly following the game. Last year, Unruly’s rundown of Super Bowl 50’s most viral ads revealed that the 10 most viral ads were shared on social media a total of 2.9 million times in the first 24 hours following the game.
These stats do a great job of telling the story of immediate gratification, but how can advertisers understand the story of staying power after the initial hype dies down? And what other channels can they look to to get an indication of the long tail impact of a Super Bowl ad?
We asked the same question by digging into our platform to measure all other media mentions—on TV, online news outlets and blogs—within 1 hour, 2 days, 3 weeks and 4 months of airing—and then through the end of 2016. Here’s what we found:
Doritos’s “Ultrasound” and Mountain Dew’s “#PuppyMonkeyBaby” took the top spots for total volume of mentions earned throughout 2016, with 5,233 mentions and 4,690 mentions, respectively. Not only did these brands employ unique creative in an attempt at shock value, but Doritos once again ran their “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, giving their campaign momentum well before game day. And while both ads received tons of attention right out of the gate, they received a majority of their mentions within the first two days, then hit a sharp decline.
Brands that utilized a deeper, more meaningful message experienced greater longevity (or lasting effect), meaning their ads received a steadier stream of mentions throughout the year with no sudden drop-offs. By tugging on millennial heart strings and celebrating their 20th anniversary, for instance, Pokemon’s “#Pokemon20,” nearly edged out Budweiser’s drinking and driving PSA starring Helen Mirren for greatest longevity.
It’s clear that present-day Super Bowl advertising is just as competitive as the game itself, and brands are seeking new ways to stand out in the creative crowd. 2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year for advertisers, with a slew of celebrity appearances planned as well as an attempt at the first-ever live commercial by Snickers.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that shock value will grab audience’s immediate attention, but a more meaningful message will resonate and carry these campaigns well beyond game day.