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February 8, 2011

Impact of Super Bowl Ads on Social Media [New Data]

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Super Bowl Advertisers This is a guest blog post from Donald Nosek, VP of Business Development for ymarketing, winner of HubSpot’s the first-ever Certified Partner of the Year Award.

Super Bowl XLV is over. The Green Bay Packers won. Another singer blew the lyrics to the American anthem. And its 111 million average viewership ranked as the highest rated Super Bowl and TV show of all time. 

For many, these are the important facts. For marketers, it’s all about the TV ads. At $100,000 a second, this is the outbound marketing game that really matters. Pundits, critics and focus groups barely let the confetti settle before they gave their verdicts (If you want to see the ads go to either USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter or YouTube Ad Blitz ).

And so what? These opinions are for the most part subjective. With all of the measurement tools at our disposal, there’s got to be a better way of evaluating the impact of these ads on the public. After all, isn’t that what marketing is all about these days; measurement, tracking, interaction, and ROI.

This year we say enough already. It’s time to bring the Super Bowls ads into the social media arena of evaluation. That’s why we decided to create the Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard report , which will measure the impact of Super Bowl ads on social media, brand awareness and Internet traffic.

Sneak Peek at the Report

The Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard report will look at these key markers for those brands that spent money on Super Bowl ads:

  • Facebook likes/fans                
  • Twitter followers       
  • LinkedIn  followers   
  • Total social bookmarks          
  • YouTube subscribers, video views and channel views          
  • Monthly website traffic
  • Tweet volume            
  • Twitter mentions
  • Google results for videos, news, blogs and discussions
  • Social Mention in relation to strength, sentiment, passion and reach

We benchmarked these markers the Friday prior to the game so we could measure what changes occurred after the game.  We are still crunching the numbers for our report (which should be ready by the end of this week), but here is a sneak peek at some of the findings.


Of all the social media outlets, YouTube has one of the closest correlations to the Super Bowl broadcast itself because it allows for repeated video views, ratings, comments and sharing. While we know it’s not the case, that in fact Super Bowl viewership dips at halftime and surges in the fourth quarter , if we assume for the moment that each ad received that average 111 million viewership we can measure each Super Bowl commercial’s popularity and digital effectiveness through YouTube.

Case in point, Volkswagen’s Little Darth Vader commercial. Within 36 hours of its original airing the ad had 20+ million views on YouTube, 18,250+ comments, and nearly 100,000 ratings (98% likes). Or put another way, if Volkswagen received 111,000,000 viewers of its 60-second ad on the Super Bowl and YouTube added another 20,000,000+ views then the measured Social Media “lift” in viewerships on YouTube is at least 18%. Add to that the comments, ratings and other digital and social media avenues and the overall effectiveness of this ad becomes more clear. 

An interesting dynamic at play with the Volkswagen Little Darth Vader success is the interaction of traditional and social media, as discussed by David Meerman Scott in his book Real-Time Marketing & PR . In his book Scott describes what he calls the Real-Time Law of Distribution and how reacting quickly can help create a surge in a given story, making it viral. When NBC’s Today Show and other media outlets made the “unmasking” of this Little Darth Vader a story, it went viral and video views surged far ahead of its Super Bowl Ad competition.

Other winners on YouTube were Chrysler with its Detroit Motor City ad (3.78 million views), Doritos Pug Attack (1.48 million views) and Best Buy’s Trade-Up trade-In with Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne. Full data and details will be released later this week, but for now it’s safe to say any company that beat-out Social Media phenom Bieber deserves credit for a job well done.


When evaluating Facebook fan numbers, it’s not exactly a level playing field. There are the giants of social media networking (Coca-Cola with more than 22 million fans and Disney with more than 16 million), and there are those that started the game with less than a thousand. But in the world of social media growth, it’s all relative, so we looked at the companies that experienced the biggest percentage jump. The winner, scoring 7 touchdowns, was Pepsi-Max.

Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard - Facebook

Pepsi-Max had two ads, one called “Love Hurts” and the other “First Date Thoughts.” That’s about $6 million worth of outbound marketing, and as a result increased its Facebook presence by 49%. Is that good ROI? Here is one of the winning ads:


With Twitter, we looked at a number of stats (Twitter mentions by day, week and all time). For this snapshot, we give you a comparison of Twitter mentions two days before the Super Bowl and right after. All but four of the brands that advertised saw an increase in Twitter mentions (the biggest loser was Mercedes-Benz which went from 1,237 mentions before the Super Bowl and only 29 after, for a 4,166% drop. Ouch!)

Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard - Twitter Super Bowl Social Brands Scoreboard - Twitter Mentions

Social Activity

Social Mention is an online service that offers real-time social media search and analysis. We looked at several of their indicators of social media activity (strength, sentiment, passion and reach).

Let’s look at reach first. This demonstrates the growth in reach among blogs, Q&A sites, Twitter, social bookmarking sites, images and news. All but 10 of the brands increased their reach. (Budweiser actually lost 10% and Pepsi-Co lost 9%. You can’t win them all.)

The number one brand that increased its reach was Bridgestone, and one has to wonder how much of their sponsorship of the half time show had to do with that.  Here are the top 5.

Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard - Social Mention Reach

But reach is only part of the social media game. Passion and sentiment probably play an even more important role in social networks. When it comes to passion, most of the brands failed. Only 9 brands that advertised in the Super Bowl increased their level of passion. What does that say about their ads? Here are the top 5 that actually raised their passion meter.

Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard - Passion

Sentiment is evaluated by Social Mention in terms of three basic categories: positive, negative and neutral social media comments. This is shown as a ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are not.

For example, Volswagen’s Beetle had the highest ratio after the Super Bowl at 69:1 – that’s 69 good social media comments compared to one bad one. But when it comes to data, everything is relative. What happened to a brands social sentiment after they aired the ads?  Here is a chart of the top ten brands that achieved serious sentiment improvement.

Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard - Sentiment

What Does This All Mean?

Should outbound marketing tactics like Super Bowl ads be measured in terms of their social media impact or online activity?  We think so, since so much of a brands identity is now being formed online. As we crunch the numbers, we are trying to figure out what it all means.

But what do you think? Is this just data for the sake of more data, or should big event marketing be put to the same measurements as everything else? Your insight could help us as we complete our Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard report .

Topics: Inbound Marketing Social Media Analytics

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