Super Bowl Ad Metrics More Varied This Year

    February 5, 2012
    Zach Walton
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Super Bowl ads are not only entertainment during the big game, they serve the higher (or lower) purpose of trying to sell you something. We may forget that these ads are doing that when we’re busy laughing at the newest Doritos’ advertisement or Volkswagen’s Star Wars tributes.

We put out a list of our top five best Super Bowl ads and the comments make it abundantly clear – the average consumer has vastly different notions of what makes these ads good. Taking a look at the Super Bowl admeter on USA Today provides a good measure of what consumers thought were the best ads. This is important to advertisers as the average consumer is there number one target. This should helps them refine their ads for the next year’s game.

What makes a good super bowl ad? What do you look for when you’re rating your personal favorites? Let us know in the comments.

Looking at the admeter, the top five ads all have a common theme – humor. People love to laugh. Ace Metrix seems to agree rating the top 10 most effective ads with the most effective being the ones based around humor.


The two ads that scored the highest tying for first place with a 671 Ace score was the M&M’s “Just My Shell” ad and Doritos “Sling Baby” ad. Filling the rest of the top five are humor-based ads that appeal to consumer’s base instinct to laugh.

The CEO of Ace Metrix, Peter Daboll, confirms this by saying to Forbes that humor was the most effective advertising strategy at this year’s Super Bowl which is confirmed by so many ads trying to be funny.

Daboll says that animals go hand in hand with humor as Coca Cola’s polar bear ads both ranked in the top 10. Doritos and Skechers both used dogs in their Super Bowl ads that catapulted both companies into the top 10 ads as well.

Not all ads are created equal though, and not all ads are intended effect to make people laugh. Serious ads that get the attention of viewers on something that they can relate to, such as the current financial landscape, can get people interested in products. Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime America” ad scored well at sixth place with an Ace score of 633. GE’s “Building Something Big in Louisville” got tenth place with an Ace score of 600.

Daboll calls it the “Made in America” ad that connects especially well with men. These kind of ads really “connect with the American people” in a way that the humor-filled ads cant. He goes on to say that these ads can “deliver a serious, emotive message and connect with viewers during the Super Bowl.”

He also points to the success of longer than usual ads that he calls “storytelling” ads. The Chrysler and Volkswagen ads both nailed this effectively by lasting more than the usual 30 seconds without losing interest of viewers.

Looking at the reaction to the ads across social media platforms reveals totally different results. While the H&M David Beckham underwear ad performed poorly with an Ace score of 450, the ad was the number one on social media platforms garnering a whopping 108,914 comments across all major social media platforms according to Bluefin Labs. Bluefin gathered their data in a 45-minute window after each ad aired to provide a fair estimate of how they do since the ads will most likely get more exposure over the coming days.


Compared to the Ace Metrix score, the Bluefin scores may be less effective as they just measure the comments. Comments can be negative and negativity usually outperforms anything else when it comes to online comments. Still, bad press is better than no press so H&M can take that as a sign that at least people were talking about their ad even if they didn’t like it. Unruly research shows brand recommendation as being an effective tool and social media provided that during the Super Bowl.

There is a third metric to consider when rating these ads’ effectiveness. After last year’s Volkswagen ad that premiered before the game garnered more than 90 million views over the past year, other advertisers wanted to cash in on that exposure. Honda’s Ferris Bueller ad has gotten over 18 million views on YouTube since its release with Volkswagen’s new Star Wars ad getting over 17 million views. Both ads used a teaser that led up to the actual ad that boosted their effectiveness.

AutoTrader and Edmunds.com both showed an even newer form of ad effectiveness as well through search and Web traffic. They rated auto ads by how much search and Web traffic they received during the game confirming that ads don’t necessarily have to be crowd pleasers to be big winners. While AutoTrader’s graph shows that search for vehicle models boomed during their respective advertisements; Edmunds.com’s research shows Web traffic to a specific model increased dramatically once its ad aired.

AutoTrader and Edmunds clash with the Ace Metrix numbers as well. Ace is showing that Fiat, while getting the most Web traffic according to Edmunds.com, was seventh in overall auto ad effectiveness.

Once again, as evidenced by our own picks, Super Bowl ads are different for everybody. It’s becoming harder and harder for businesses to pinpoint exactly what ads were effective or not. There are so many metrics and scores that advertisers can go off of that it makes it hard to tell where a company went wrong. While the Ace score can be a good indicator, other ad watch groups show that social media can go in the completely opposite direction.

It doesn’t seem like there’s any one way to really tell whether or not an ad was effective at this year’s Super Bowl. The best bet is to use the USA Today admeter as it’s directly from consumers voting on the ads they liked and combine that with the results from ad firms like Ace Metrix and Bluefin.

With so many different metrics to choose from, should advertisers look to all of them or stick to traditional metrics like Ace? Let us know in the comments.

As a final piece of wisdom, almost all studies confirmed that sexy just doesn’t really work unless you’re David Beckham. Sorry, GoDaddy, maybe you should try something else next year.

Take a look at our picks below and compare them to the researched best picks. There is a massive difference in opinion here, but it serves to show that Super Bowl ads are completely subjective and tastes change. While humor remains a strong contender, what people find funny is going to change year after year. There may even be a year where viewers want more “storytelling” ads with a serious topic.

Our picks confirm what this research has shown us – one man’s, or ad firm’s, picks do not exclusively determine what the best ads are anymore.

Here’s our picks for the top five best Super Bowl ads in no particular order:

Pepsi’s ad seemed to please scoring a 628 Ace score. The ad nails all the important parts of a good ad – great celebrity casting, a fun premise and good music. Check it out to see if you agree.

Volkswagen made a lot of nerds happy last year with their Darth Vader kid ad. While this year’s ad may or may not match up to that, the ending featuring classic Star Wars characters comparing the ad to last year’s ad makes up for it. It received a 590 Ace score.

Audi made us laugh this year with their Vampire Camp ad that’s sure to strike fear into the hearts of night creatures everywhere. It received a 536 Ace score.

The ad for the The Voice makes a great first impression by being action packed and featuring one of the best Betty White cameos ever.

Rounding out the best, we have Doritos. Ever since they started to let their fans make the ads, they have consistently turned out fantastic Super Bowl ads. This year is no different. It received a 645 Ace score.

What were your favorite ads of the Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments.

  • everyone everywhere

    I have to admit- your choice of pepsi as the best was dead wrong. I know of no one who thought that commercial to be anything other than horrible and to be endured until more interesting things came along. As soon as you saw the costumes you could tell it was gonna bomb.

  • Mike

    I thought the M&Ms ad was one of the few really funny spots all night.

  • Mike

    (and I hated the Elton john spot)

  • Matt

    I have to say I disagree on almost every ad choice you have for the good ads. And te m&ms commercial was one of the only ones that made me laugh

  • Joe

    M&M was te best ad of the night for sure

  • Tony

    I disagree with you 100%. Besides where is the fiat Seduction commercial?

  • Pat Dayton

    Well…. not so much on Pepsi. I honestly think the Twilight spoof with Audi was fantastic, and Doritos always comes out strong this time of the football season.

    As for Clint Eastwood and his awesome preaching of patriotic triumph for the auto industry, I think he nailed it. Considering how american car companies almost completely collapsed, it is “only half time”. We’re back, baby. Vroom.

  • Melissa

    I like the M&M one actually!

  • Katrina

    The M&M one was really funny. I thought the Pepsi add was ridiculous…

  • tonya

    I thought the M&Ms ad was the best it made me laugh and kept thinking about the little red guy

  • tonya

    I thought the M&Ms commercial was the best that darn little red guy kept me laughing

  • Justin

    Totally left out the one with Troy Aikman throwing the boomarang ball around Deion Sanders. It was for tires I think because the ball was similar in trajectory that the grip on a curve was or something like that. They also did a Steve Nash and Tim Duncan quiet bouncing basketballs but it wasn’t as good.

    For me, it’s all about the funny, unless it’s a very technically, scientifically neat ad. Otherwise, it’s about funny. I could care less about Chrysler’s “Patriotic” ads or most of the car commercials. The one exception was the ad about Samsung with the guy from The Darkness singing because it was like a big party and I like that song.

  • http://trakim.biz/bx91 Keith Darby

    No Idea, I was watching Proper football (English Premier League) not that silly namby pamby padded up to the eyeballs game which they CALL football but very rarely kick the thing!

  • http://dailyprayer.us Mason Barge

    I haven’t seen my favorite commercial even mentioned anywhere. The Hyundai ad “cheetah vs. sports car”, complete with Sergio Leone music, made me laugh out loud for like 30 seconds.