Sports fans know who won Super Bowl 2017. It was the New England Patriots, who overcame a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34 to 28 in overtime. But, a week later, video marketers aren’t really sure which of the 2017 Super Bowl ads won the big game. Why? Well, the outcome kinda, sorta depends on which metrics you happen to use.
For example, “‘Hero’s Journey’ Starring Melissa McCarthy” was ranked the top commercial in the 29th annual USA TODAY Ad Meter. “Hero’s Journey” got a score of 7.47 from this year’s Ad Meter panel, beating out “All-New Honda CR-V 2017 Big Game Commercial – Yearbooks,” which got a score of 6.97. If these metrics seem a little obscure, they’re only trotted out on special occasions like the Super Bowl or Rio Olympics.
Speaking of overtime, the winner of the YouTube AdBlitz won’t be announced until Wednesday, Feb. 15. All we know at this point is the top ads (based on Game Day views) as of Monday, Feb. 6 at 2 a.m. ET. In the top spot was “Budweiser 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | ‘Born The Hard Way’.”
It was followed by “Ghost Spuds | Bud Light Super Bowl Commercial 2017 feat. Spuds MacKenzie.” But, sports fans have already learned – and video marketers should already realize by now – that knowing who was ahead last week in the AdBlitz voting is probably as irrelevant as knowing who was ahead at half-time during the Big Game.
By the way, this isn’t a scientific wild-ass guess. I’ve already looked at the Tubular Labs data for the first three days of videos related to this year’s Super Bowl. The top video from a brand – both in total views and views in its first three days – is the YouTube version of “A Better Super Bowl | NFL Hyundai Super Bowl LI.” At last count, it had 25.8 million total views. And it got 21.2 million of those views in the first three days.
In second place is the Facebook version, which is entitled, “ICYMI: These troops couldn’t be home for Super Bowl LI, so we brought home to them.” At last count, it had 9.2 million total views. And it got all 9.2 million of those views in the first three days.
However, I also looked at Tubular Labs data for engagements and saw some different results. In first place, with 135,000 total engagements (likes, shares, and comments) at last count is the Facebook version of “Watch the Official Cleaner of Super Bowl LI get dirty in his sexy new Super Bowl ad.” It is followed by “ICYMI: These troops couldn’t be home for Super Bowl LI, so we brought home to them,” which had 99,200 total engagements at last count.
If you look at engagement rate, which the number of engagements divided by the number of views, you get different results, once again. The top Super Bowl video ad – with an engagement rate 3.0x greater than average – is the YouTube version of “Google Home | 2017 Super Bowl Commercial.”
It was followed by the YouTube version of “Super Bowl Commercial 2017: Our Bar | Michelob ULTRA,” which had an engagement rate 1.2x greater than average. But wait, there’s more!
Super Bowl Brand Lift for NFL
Three days after the Big Game, the YouGov BrandIndex reported that the NFL itself came away from the Super Bowl with large spikes in consumer perception metrics, and they may have a record-setting comeback to thank for that. The NFL’s Buzz (“If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”) improved from 5.2 before the Super Bowl (Jan. 1-14). That score improved to 29.7 after the Big Game (Feb. 6-8). And the NFL’s Word of Mouth (“Which of the following brands have you talked about with friends and family in the past two weeks, whether in person, online or through social media?”) improved from 30.3 before the Big Game to 51.0 afterwards.
Following the NFL in Buzz was Avocados from Mexico, which improved its score from 3.8 before the Big Game to 21.2 afterwards. And Following the NFL in Word of Mouth was Skittles, which improved its score from 5.6 to 18.3. The YouGov BrandIndex also reported that Avocados from Mexico had the highest score when it came to improving its purchase consideration, YouGov BrandIndex’s indicator of potential sales revenue.
Avocados from Mexico had a baseline score of 14.4, before the Super Bowl (Jan. 1-14). That score improved to 29.7 after the Big Game (Feb. 6-8). In second place was Snickers, which used a live Super Bowl commercial to improve its purchase consideration from 31.3 before the Big Game to 41.9 afterwards.
Different Metrics Give Different Results
So, who cares if different metrics produce different winners? Well, I saw the perfect answer last week in an article by The New York Times, which quoted remarks made by Marc S. Pritchard, the chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, at a recent conference held by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Pritchard said, “We spend enormous amounts of time trying to understand, analyze and explain the differences between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Pandora, YouTube and the dozens of different viewability standards claimed to be right metric for each platform.” He added, “Think about that for a moment. It would be like each NFL football team having a different standard of yards needed for a first down.”
I totally agree. And having different metrics determine different winners among Super Bowls ads is also kinda, sorta like having different goals and objectives for the Big Game. Did we want to end up on top of a chart, any chart, so we could mention that the next time we need to look for a new client or a new job? Or, was our Super Bowl ad trying to increase brand lift, engagement, buzz, word of mouth, purchase intent, or sales of our company’s or client’s product?
In addition, consider what happened when the fourth quarter ended in a 28-28 tie and went into overtime. (Hint: For sports fans, there was a coin toss to see who got the football first. For Big Game advertisers, four more TV commercials ran in the overtime period, bringing the total ad load in Super Bowl 2017 to 51 minutes, 30 seconds. That made this the second-most ad-cluttered Big Game behind only Super Bowl 2013, which totaled 51:40.)
So, was overtime a good thing or a bad thing? You’ll get different answers from New England fans than you’ll get from Atlanta fans. And if you’ve paid $5 million for a 30-second spot, how do you feel? Oh, and consider this: Super Bowl 2017 was watched by 111.3 million people in the US, according to Nielsen. That’s the smallest TV audience since 2013.