Who Really Won the Super Bowl Ad War? The Answer Will Surprise You

As we crumple and toss our March Madness brackets in the trash, the Adknowledge TriVu Media team thought it would make sense to go back to look at who really won the Super Bowl. Super Bowl advertising, that is.

Why? Because we think brands, bloggers, and big-time agencies may have made the wrong call when it comes to the ultimate winner of Super Bowl ads. OK, perhaps wrong isn’t exactly the right term. But when it comes to the digital landscape, the game day ads have shifted. A lot.

As quick refresher: here’s how the ads stacked up on- and off-line 24 hours after the Super Bowl ended:

Top 10 USA Today Ad Meter Video Views on YouTube
1 Budweiser – Lost Dog Budweiser – Lost Dog
2 Always – Like a Girl Supercell – Clash of Clans
3 Fiat – Blue Pill Bud Light – Pac-Man
4 Microsoft – Tech Helps T-Mobile – Save the Data
5 Doritos – Middle Seat BMW i3 – Newfangled Idea
6 Dodge – 100 Years Mercedes – Fable
7 Toyota – Dad Snickers – Brady Brunch
8 Coke – Make It Happy Nissan – With Dad
9 Nissan – With Dad McDonalds – Payin’ with Lovin
10 McDonalds – Payin’ with Lovin’ Nationwide – Make Safe Happen

In both offline and online, Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” was the overall winner. When you look at social sentiment, brand shares and other online measures, that ad was a touchdown run from the opposing 20-yard line.

Budweiser’s "Lost Dog"

Budweiser’s “Lost Dog”


But how have the Super Bowl ads fared after two months?  A comparison:

Online Views
Top 24 hours after Super Bowl 2 Months After Super Bowl
1 Budweiser – Lost Dog Supercell – Clash of Clans
2 Super Cell – Clash of Clans Budweiser – Lost Dog
3 Bud Light – Pac-Man Nissan – With Dad
4 T-Mobile – Save the Data Bud Light – Pac-Man
5 BMW i3 – Newfangled Idea T-Mobile – Save the Data
6 Mercedes – Fable BMW i3 – Newfangled Idea
7 Snickers – Brady Brunch Dodge – Wisdom
8 Nissan – With Dad Snickers – Brady Bunch
9 McDonalds – Payin’ with Lovin Fiat – Blue Pill
10 Nationwide – Make Safe Happen Bud – Brewed the Hard Way

Two months later, it isn’t Budweiser, but Supercell’s “Clash of Clans” featuring Liam Neeson, that has surged ahead. The spot is a parody of the Taken movie franchise in which Neeson threatens to go after another player who’s trying to take his gold. “I don’t know you, BigBuffetBoy85, but if you think you can humiliate me, think again,” Neeson says as he stares into his phablet. The ad has been seen a whopping 51 million times.

Here is how the top 10 Super Bowl spots have performed over the past two months, based on video views:

the top 10 Super Bowl spots have performed over the past two months, based on video views

Now, a skeptic may scoff and say Supercell paid for those views. And they would be right, in part.

But the bigger idea is this: Supercell used the Super Bowl platform to kick off its marketing campaign and expand its video distribution strategy. In a study TriVu published in AdAge, we found that Super Bowl advertisers that amplified their brands online weeks after the Super Bowl had greater recall than those that just promoted their spot with a burst of advertising. We actually surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and found that the brands employing this strategy had two times better recall than those that didn’t.

Extending a brand’s broadcast buy online well after the Super Bowl is simply a smart strategy.  The combination of TV and online video can expand reach. And online TRPs are a lot cheaper than Super Bowl ads. And as long as the brand is buying at the URL level (not channel or keyword level), advertisers can be brand-safe and smart without paying Super Bowl TV rates.

“Clash of Clans did well on YouTube because it had a great creative concept and effective online video marketing strategy that resonated with the audience,” says Paul Calento, co-founder of TriVu Media.

The key is to select a partner that can look for smart buys and—in real time—look for new and compelling videos related to the Super Bowl. Sadly, many advertisers don’t take full advantage of the YouTube. TriVu found that nearly one in five of them did not have a sustained, well thought out online video strategy.

The biggest offense was buying at the channel or keyword level. “Precise digital targeting is the holy grail of digital marketing,” Calento said. “Media buyers should punt any YouTube provider that can’t ensure videos are targeted down to the actual video (URL) level,” he said.

And this advice, whether you’re planning for June’s NBA finals or the VMAs on MTV in August, will keep your campaign from getting…well, lost.

Want to find out how TriVu can boost your video distribution strategy?

About the Author

Anita Newton

Anita Newton is the VP of corporate marketing at Adknowledge. She led marketing at P&G, Sprint and AMC Theatres, as well startups including Zave Networks (acquired by Google). Anita continues her entrepreneurial work by advising startups like Trellie and Mighty Green Solutions. She is based at Adknowledge's Kansas City headquarters.

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