By Kevin O’Reilly, CTO, TVSquared
Predicted to be 2017’s most-watched TV event, Super Bowl LI featured a jaw-dropping comeback, likely attracting more than 110 million viewers and consisted of 60-to-70 ad slots that retailed at $5 million a pop ($166K+ per second!). The Super Bowl is an American institution, but it’s also the “promise land” for advertisers – unrivaled inventory that puts brands in front of more than a third of the U.S. population in just one ad slot.
According to Ad Age, advertisers have spent $4.9 billion on Super Bowl commercials since 1967; and this year was set to hit an ad-spend record of $385 million. It makes sense – TV is powerful, that’s undisputed – but with 87% of viewers watching with a second-screen device nearby, it’s become even more effective for advertisers.
TV ads consistently drive a digital response – search, web traffic, and app activity. Just look at what happened with 84 Lumber – the 90-second spot urged viewers to visit the company’s site to watch the ending of its politically charged ad, which was deemed too controversial to air in its entirety by Fox. The call-to-action within the ad was so effective that 84 Lumber’s site temporarily crashed.
For the second year in a row, TVSquared analyzed the impact that TV had on search traffic for Super Bowl advertisers. And while the data shows that an immediate digital response is evident for most of this year’s advertisers, it was the head-to-head battles between competitors that stood out in our analysis. Just as the Patriots emerged victorious after a nail-biter against the Falcons, which brand rivals emerged victorious after their Super Bowl LI ad slots?
Sprint vs. T-Mobile
In the battle of the mobile disrupters, T-Mobile had the edge over Sprint by about 25% of comparative searches. While the two companies were neck-and-neck in the hours leading up to the game – and both took a satire approach with their creatives – T-Mobile pulled away with the highest levels of digital interaction.
Each of T-Mobile’s four Super Bowl ads generated a greater immediate impact – with their best performances in the following 10 minutes at 5.7x vs. Sprint at 3.9x. After the game, T-Mobile’s search activity remained higher, demonstrating sustained impact with 50% more traffic than Sprint across the same period – of course, this could be down to the fact T-Mobile ran four ads compared to Sprint’s one.
Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
Winner: Google Home
Google Home went up against Amazon Echo, both making a play for the top spot to emerge as the leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant. During last year’s Super Bowl, Amazon Echo was the standout advertiser (across all advertisers) – with its TV spots driving major online response, and dominating search traffic in New York, Chicago and Charlotte. But how did it do this year? Especially with Google Home’s recent aggressive push to capture market share.
Leading up to the game, Amazon Echo had a strong week, holding a solid lead over Google Home, with 63% of searches. As Super Bowl Sunday kicked off, Amazon Echo was still in a strong position, heading into the game time with 61% of the web traffic, driven by 57% more ads throughout the day. But by the end of the day, Google Home’s successful Super Bowl LI ad had aired, diverting AI assistant searches away from Amazon Echo, cutting the brand’s statistics to just 54% and 19%, respectively.
Google Home had a spectacular performance with its first spot, airing its emotion-driven creative, and bringing 50x traffic in the following 10 minutes. By comparison, Amazon Echo’s ad took a satire approach, with cameos from Alec Baldwin and Jason Schwartzman, and had a 6.5x traffic boost. Due to the breakout performance of Google Home’s ad spot – and for changing the AI race – we “declared” it the winner of this battle.
With the diverse range of brands, creatives, messages – and Lady Gaga’s half-time show – Super Bowl LI lived up to its reputation as being one of the world’s most prolific TV events, and a key milestone for advertisers. To justify the record ad investment, brands need to understand the full implications of their TV ad placements on wider marketing activity, as well as benchmarked against competitor’s share of voice.