Super Bowl 2016 Video Marketing Leads to a Brand Lift Buzz

A number of organizations announced which Super Bowl 50 ad had “won” this year less than 24 hours after the “Big Game” ended on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Why the rush to judgement? Well, as the chart below illustrates, the Monday after the Super Bowl is when views spike for Super Bowl Commercials.

But video marketers know that the competition online starts more than a week before kickoff and it continues more than a week after the Vince Lombardi Trophy is handed out. That’s why I’ve waited until now to declare which Super Bowl 50 ad won this year.

Super Bowl Commercials 2016

Super Bowl 2016 Ads Distributed via YouTube and Facebook (Data via Tubular Labs)

Super Bowl 2016 Video Views: YouTube

Now, there are a variety of metrics that can be used to identify the winner of the “Big Game.” Let’s start with the default metric, “views.” Yes, YouTube counts “views” when users click to play and watch a video for at least 30 seconds and Facebook counts “views” when a video is displayed in a user’s news feed for 3 seconds or more, even if the person doesn’t actually click on the video to watch with the sound turned on. So, to avoid comparing apples to oranges, let’s take a look at the Super Bowl 50 ads that got the most views on each platform.

According to Tubular Intelligence, the Super Bowl 2016 commercial with the most views on YouTube was “The Chase – Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial” Published on Feb. 1, 2016, this 0:31-long video had 23.9 million views at time of writing.

Using “views” as our yardstick, “#Pokemon20: Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial” ended up in second place on YouTube. Published on Jan. 25, 2016, this 1:11-long video had 21.1 million views at time of writing.

And, based on the number of “views” it has accumulated, “Mtn Dew Kickstart: Puppymonkeybaby | Super Bowl Spot,” danced its way to a third place finish on YouTube. Published on Feb. 3, 2106, this 0:33-long video had tallied 20.6 million views at time of writing.

Super Bowl 2016 Video Views: Facebook

On Facebook, it appears that viewers watch different video ads on the social network, or different segments of people use different video platforms as their second screen during major TV sports events. Alternative explanations for the surprising results that you are about to see below also include:

  • Facebookers were watching video ads from a different “Big Game” than YouTubers.
  • The beings watching Super Bowl 50 ads on Facebook were from a parallel universe.

The Super Bowl 2016 commercial with the most views on Facebook was “Watch the new X-Men: Apocalypse Super Bowl Commercial now. In theaters May 27.” Uploaded on Feb. 7, 2016, this 0:31-long video had 15.9 million views at time of writing.

Using “views” as our yardstick, “Kentucky Fried Chicken | Dream | 2016 Big Game Commercial” ended up in second place on Facebook. Uploaded on Feb. 6, 2016, this 0:30-long video had 10.7 million views at time of writing.

And, based on the number of “views” it has accumulated, “10 Cloverfield Lane Super Bowl Ad (2016),” creeped its way to a third place finish on Facebook. Uploaded on Feb. 7, 2106, this 0:30-long video had tallied 10.6 million views at time of writing.

Super Bowl Ads by Engagement

You will also see a surprisingly different picture if you use Tubular Intelligence to sort the results by “engagements,” which includes Likes, Comments, Shares, and Tweets.

The Super Bowl 50 commercial with the most engagements on YouTube was “#Pokemon20: Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial.” This video had 436,000 engagements, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 2.0%. Using “engagements” as our yardstick, “First Date – Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial | The 2016 Hyundai Genesis” ended up in second place on YouTube. This 1:01-long video had 394,000 engagements and 14.7 million views, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 2.6%. And, based on the number of “engagements” it has accumulated, “HEINZ Ketchup Game Day 2016 Hot Dog Commercial | ‘Wiener Stampede’ - Extended Cut” ran off with third place on YouTube. Published on Feb. 1, 2016, this 1:01-long video had 293,000 engagements and 6.2 million views, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 4.7%.

And, you see a somewhat different picture if you use Tubular Intelligence to sort the results by “engagements” on Facebook. The Super Bowl 50 commercial with the most engagements on Facebook was “Watch the new X-Men: Apocalypse Super Bowl Commercial now. In theaters May 27.” This video had 715,000 engagements on Facebook, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 4.4%. Using “engagements” as our yardstick, “Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Big Game Spot” ended up in second place on Facebook.

This 0:30-long video had 256,000 engagements and 5.9 million views, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 4.3%. And, based on the number of “engagements” it has accumulated, “The new Heinz Superbowl commercial!” ran off with third place on Facebook. Uploaded on Feb. 1, 2016, this freebooted version of the 0:30-long video on Sausage Dog Central’s Facebook page had 218,000 engagements and 7.3 million views, giving it an engagement/view ratio of 2.9%.

Which Super Bowl Ad Won in 2016?

So, based on this data, am I ready to declare which Super Bowl 50 ad “won” this year? Almost, but not quite yet. Regular readers of ReelSEO know that I’ve encouraged video marketers to use Google’s Brand Lift surveys to measure increases in brand awareness, ad recall, consideration, favorability, purchase intent, and brand interest, as measured by organic search activity.

And it turns out that the Facebook Marketing Science team commissioned Nielsen to analyze data from 173 of their BrandEffect studies which included digital video ads on Facebook. Each of these studies used a test-and-control design to measure the video’s impact on three ad campaign metrics: ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration. So, it appears that both of the two leading video platforms understand that video view counts alone don’t tell advertisers enough about the value driven from digital video ads. Measuring engagements is a step in the right direction, but video marketers also want to know how their ad resonates at the later stages of the purchase journey including consideration, favorability, and purchase intent.

Unfortunately, neither YouTube nor Facebook makes this kind of information public – unless it is approved ahead of time by an individual brand. So, video marketers need to look elsewhere for this critical data. Fortunately, there is a reputable source for some of this critical data – and it’s willing to share it publicly. It’s YouGov BrandIndex, a brand intelligence service. BrandIndex interviews more than 6,800 consumers every day, yielding over 2.5 million interviews a year. Last week, YouGov BrandIndex published an article about this year’s Super Bowl ads. Among other things, the brand intelligence service said, “The Heinz ad hit home with two of the most comforting images: cute puppies and yummy condiments. Heinz showed the greatest uptick in Buzz and Purchase consideration compared with early January figures.”

In other words, purchase consideration for Heinz was 58.9% back during Jan. 4-17 – before the Super Bowl. And the brand’s purchase consideration was 69.6% for Feb. 8-9 – after the “Wiener Stampede” ad aired on TV and was published online. That’s a positive left in purchase consideration of 10.7%

The eccentric “Skittles: ‘The Portrait’ w/ Steven Tyler. Super Bowl 50 Commercial” helped to lift that brand into second place. Skittles had a purchase consideration of 30.0% during Jan. 4-14, but that increased 8.6% to 38.6% as of Feb. 8-9.

And according to the YouGov BrandIndex article, “AXE ditched the ‘bro’ attitude for something more sophisticated – it’s now ‘grooming for men’ - more grown up, like the smart big brother giving you advice.” This explains why and how “AXE - Find Your Magic” boosted purchase consideration from the brand by 6.8% – from 15.2% during Jan. 4-17 to 22.1% as of Feb. 8-9. So, it seems that Unilever’s AXE did the right thing by changing direction.

These strategic insights are why it was worth waiting until now to announce that the Heinz ad is the winner of this year’s “Big Game.” It also tempts me to coin a new phrase: “The Super Bowl ain’t over till the ‘Wiener Stampede’ ends.”

Let me know what you think in the comments area below.