Who Won the Marketing Super Bowl?

malcolm butler interceptionSunday night may have seen the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks to be crowned winners of Super Bowl XLIX, but with brands paying out $4.5m (£2.98m) for a 30-second ad during the game, who emerged as champions when it came to marketing?

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, with an record-breaking audience of over 114.5m people tuning in to watch NBCs broadcast, plus an additional 1.3m through the web stream of the game, and countless millions watching coverage outside the US.

In the UK, where Channel 4 showed the game, around 650,000 tuned in despite the time difference (the game didnt kick off until 11.30pm GMT), and while brands may not be paying out millions to advertise in the UK, Jacques de Cock of the London School of Marketing estimates that ad rates during the broadcast would jump from £500 to £5,000 for a 30-second spot.

As mobile becomes increasingly integrated into our everyday lives, the Super Bowl makes for a natural second-screen event, with traditional viewing parties expanding to include viewers digital presence. According to a study by Salesforce, 61 per cent of viewers will use their smartphone while watching the game, and 24 per cent will use a tablet.

66 per cent of viewers will use Facebook during the game, with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the next most-popular social channels during the game. 65 per cent of viewers are likely to interact with brands on social media during the game, while 50 per cent said they would share Super Bowl ads on social media to support brands they like.

mcdonalds tweet contestTwitter saw 28.4m tweets containing terms related to the game and halftime show during the live broadcast, a new record. McDonalds took advantage of the platforms popularity during the game, inviting users to retweet its content to win prizes related to the other adverts shown during breaks. The strategy saw the fast food brand mentioned over 643,000 times during the game.

McDonalds also performed well with its ad during the game in terms of social engagement. iSpot, which measures online activity including views and social actions, ranked the companys Pay With Lovin ad third, with 5.54 per cent of online activity and over 10m online views.

Budweisers Lost Dog advert, featuring the brands iconic Clydesdale horses coming to the rescue of a Golden Retriever puppy, topped the chart, with over 50m online views, 2.47m social actions and 13.94 per cent of online activity, while T-Mobiles ad, featuring Kim Kardashian West, came in second.

T-Mobile also took advantage of the growing number of viewers digitally streaming the game to air a different ad to its television one, with the live-stream ad including prompts enabling viewers to immediately share it via Twitter or visit the brands Facebook page.

Thanks to YouTube, marketing associated with the Super Bowl is becoming less about the day of the event, and more and more about the build-up, with teaser ads and previews released ahead of time.

Commercials released on YouTube before they aired during the game saw approximately 2.5 times more views on average, and while big game ads still drive the most engagement, consumers are also engaging with other Super Bowl-related content ahead of the game. Searches for Super Bowl on YouTube increase fivefold over the course of January, and even brands who have not purchased ads during the game have found success on YouTube with football themed content.

tom brady patriots winHowever, its not all confetti and trophies for brands who have paid out to advertise in the big game. Research by programmatic platform Rocket Fuel into the previous three years Super Bowl advertising found that there was no direct immediate uplift in online sales for companies.

“This perceived prime piece of advertising real estate, with an estimated audience of 125m viewers worldwide, doesnt deliver in terms of driving business and sales for companies online like you might think it would,” said Dominic Trigg, senior vice president and managing director of Europe at Rocket Fuel.

The research suggests that while Super Bowl ads may be engaging viewers and driving online conversation, they dont translate directly into sales. With more and more avenues opening up to reach consumers, many brands must no doubt be asking if it makes more sense to shift to mobile and digital channels when it comes to winning on game day.