This year, we saw a continuing trend in TV advertising: teaser commercials leading up to the Super Bowl. Similar to movie trailers, these 15- to 30-second teasers by brands (like Mr. Clean, Snickers, and Febreze) hinted at their much-anticipated full-length commercials in hopes of building viewer anticipation. But unlike movie trailers, these mini-commercials account for nearly half of the featured spot. Depending on who you ask, these teasers either spoiled the fun or kept viewers wanting more.
For brands, the question is ultimately, “Do ads with teasers perform better than traditional ads?” The answer lies in understanding whether piquing viewers' interest early on actually increased awareness and engagement during the game—and beyond. Are we seeing quantifiable, tangible effects or are teasers just another failed attempt at further maximizing ROI of large advertising investments?
Many based questions of performance on immediate viewer reactions on social media, but that’s only part of the story. In order to understand how these ads spread across media and influenced consumers beyond their initial airing, it’s necessary to measure the earned media they gained across traditional channels like TV and online news, over a longer period of time. Consumer perception is heavily influenced by TV and news sites, so it’s very likely that any lasting awareness created by these ads would be heavily attributed to these channels.
We took a look at this year’s Super Bowl commercials to determine whether teasing commercials with shorter ones in advance has any measurable impact on earned TV and online discussions — and, thus, on overall awareness. We took a look at a few key metrics:
Remember TurboTax’s “Humpty Dumpty” ad—or Wix.com’s action-packed spot featuring Jason Statham and Gal Gadot? They, along with about 30 other brands, released teasers in the weeks leading up to the game. All together, these teasers were seen on TV over 9,500 times prior to Super Bowl Sunday. Also, these brands generated over 8,600 earned discussions throughout that time across online news and blog outlets, so there’s no denying they had a significant head start in recognition days before the game.
So, did the teasing strategy catapult these brands to the top of the heap of earned discussions once the game aired? Not exactly. The top three media-earning brands did not release teasers beforehand. 84 Lumber took the number 1 spot with nearly 5,500 mentions, followed by Airbnb with 4,665, and Netflix’s Stranger Things Season 2 trailer with 4,509 mentions.
We couldn’t help but notice the glaring similarity amongst the top performers. While it’s no surprise the highly anticipated return of Stranger Things generated tons of buzz, first-time Super Bowl advertisers 84 Lumber and Airbnb employed creative that reflected upon the current political climate, specifically issues surrounding immigration. They capitalized on the hottest topic and issue at the moment, and the results speak for themselves.
Rounding out the top 10 media-earners were brands that released teasers—Budweiser, Snickers, Avocados from Mexico, T-Mobile, Intel, Kia, and Mr. Clean. Each utilized typical Super Bowl ad maneuvers like celebrity cameos and outrageous attempts at humor, but none were a match for politically charged creative.
Sure, ad teasers have established themselves as a new tradition in recent years, and the data shows that brands that tease their ads do receive the desired long-term earned recognition. But if these brands expect to come out on top with the greatest earned media returns, teasers don’t exactly guarantee the biggest pay off. 84 Lumber, probably the least recognized brand of the bunch, came out the ultimate victor of earned discussions without spoiling the surprise for viewers.
The truth is that Super Bowl ads are expensive, and brands have taken the safe bet and followed the trends that ensure positive results. But now they can rest assured that teasing their hard work and creative prowess isn’t the only winning paid and earned strategy when it comes to Super Bowl advertising.