Stephan Schwarz
By Stephan Schwarz
Feb 19, 2016 10:43:55 AM

ID Comms Analysis: Superbowl 50 Advertising Performance


The glitter has settled after a dramatic Super Bowl 50 with saw the Denver Broncos walking off  as the winners against the Carolina Panthers. It is time to take a quick analysis of brands competed in the battle for supremacy in Super Bowl advertising.

Here is a summary of our analysis with observations about trends for this years iteration of Super Bowl media activity:

Which Brand Stood out this Year

While definitions of what qualifies as success may differ from brand to brand, an easy measure of viewers’ response and engagement with an ad can be seen on its share of YouTube views.

Looking at the viewing statistics collected by AdBowl, Hyundai seems to have generated a significant amount of buzz, with two of their ads, “The Chase” and “First Date”, placing in the Top 5 of total YouTube views with 24million and 14million views respectively.

Total Viewing Figures Have Remained Stable  

Compared to Super Bowl 49, total viewing figures have remained relatively stable, with Google reporting that around 4 million hours were spent watching Super Bowl ads on YouTube. Equally, video content consumed during the game was stable with around 300,000 hours, similar to 2015.

Pre-Game Release of Content Has Increased

The trend of brands of pre-releasing their content in the weeks preceding the actual airing of the ad during game-time has continued unabated. According to Visible Measures, this year saw nearly 85% of Super Bowl advertisers release content early, which is up from 50% compared to the previous two years.[1] Visible Measures notes that by “releasing multiple pieces of content even earlier advertisers are giving consumers more opportunities to view their campaigns.” Consequently, this has resulted in views of pre-released content for the Top 10 ads to grow a staggering 130% from last year.

While Viewership Remains High, Sharing Seems to Have Decreased

Even though viewership figures have remained stable at high levels, there has been inverse trend in the sharing of Super Bowl content. According to Unruly Media, in the first week after Super Bowl, the Top 10 ads had been shared around 2.9 million times. This marks a 36% decrease for the Top 10 ads in the same time span in 2015, at which they had accrued roughly 4.5 million views.[2]

The cause of this dramatic decline cannot be directly pinpointed to one single factor however it may give an indication of the quality of this year’s roster of ads, perhaps  the content was not deemed as ‘shareable’ when compared to 2015.

In conclusion, Super Bowl 50 saw the continuation of an approach in which brands approached their advertising campaigns as holistic by going beyond the spots that make it on to the air through engagement with viewers and consumers through digital and social media channels.

Closing Thoughts

Super Bowl 50 saw the continuation of a marketing approach in which the most successful brands structured their activity as part of ann historic campaign. This means the 30 seconds that brands buy during game-time now represent the peak of a ‘tentpole’ approach that fully engages viewers and consumers across all media touchpoints before and after the game, specifically digital and social media channels such as YouTube and Facebook. Naturally, such a broadening and extending reach through alternative channels, means that brands need to be prepared to spend a substantially higher amount than the $5milllion per Super Bowl spot rate quoted this year by CBS. Research conducted by Mediasmith has suggested that “in order to properly support a Super Bowl spot, you would really need to spend $15-20MM to achieve maximum effectiveness for the campaign."[3] However, even though there are no signs of the costs of running a Super Bowl ad campaign decreasing anytime soon, the fact that the Super Bowl offers a unique opportunity to reach over 100 million potential customers at one point in time has left brands willing to take the plunge in the hopes of successful. How brands measure success of their campaigns can differ on a brand-by-brand basis. There are multiple metrics one can apply or point to (e.g. views, shares, Twitter mentions, creative judging) however I think it all comes back to the strategic thinking that brands have and how they make effective use of the multiple channels that people now consume media. To conclude, I leave you with Bonin Bough, who I think gives a great summary of how brands should approach, execute and measure their Super Bowl campaigns: “The advertisers who ‘win’ from the Super Bowl may not be the advertisers whose creative won the AdMeter, but rather those advertisers whose creative integration of their Super Bowl spot into a broader strategic mix drives sustainable, long-term results.”[4]