Market research kicks off following Super Bowl

FEBRUARY 8, 2012 – It’s likely that a lot of market research went into the design and dispersal of this past Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials. But now that the crowds have streamed out of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, it’s time to set the data analysts on the Big Game’s numbers.

Writing for SmartData Collective, Bree Stupakevich breaks down some of the numbers on the Super Bowl audience and the ads’ performance.

This year, approximately 32 percent of Americans tuned in for the game. Almost one-third of viewers were waiting for what happens in between plays – the commercials – and just 40 percent of that group was paying attention to what was happening on the field, he notes. So it may be worth the average $3.5 million per ad that many marketers and advertisers shelled out in order to air their spots during game time.

Stupakevich also notes that prescreening commercials was a strategy shared by approximately half of Super Bowl advertisers. Some critics said the early release weakened the element of surprise for those brands and gave an advantage to the companies that kept their ads under wraps. However, supporters said posting commercials online provided those organizations with the opportunity to create a social media buzz around their campaigns and extend the conversation.

Social networks also got time on the marketing playing field, Stupakevich says, with Twitter taking the prize for real-time, mobile marketing. Catchphrases featured in several ads became trending topics soon after the commercials aired, he remarks.

Mobile applications and enabling people to view marketing materials on the “second screen” of smartphones and tablet computers were also popular methods of collecting market research and engaging consumers this Super Bowl season. As The Associated Press reported last week, Coca-Cola was pushing viewers to visit its Facebook page to watch animated polar bears react to the game in real time, while Chevrolet released an app that promised prizes ranging from small items to a new car. 

Online surveys will probably continue throughout the week. On Monday, USA Today released its study on consumers’ favorite ads, conducted through a community panel on Facebook, the Super Bowl Ad Meter. Doritos commercials won the day, with “Man’s Best Friend” taking first place with a score of 8.82 on a 10-point scale and “Sling Baby” coming in fourth at 8.48 points. Volkswagen’s “Dog Strikes Back” won second place and was followed by Skechers’ “Go Run” slot. M&M’s “Ms. Brown” rounded out the top five with an 8.47 point ranking.

TaxACT’s commercial was another to win panelists’ approval, taking 11th place at 7.86 points. The company’s vice president of marketing, Kris Peterson, noted in a statement that its “Free to Pee” ad aimed to connect with viewers on an emotional level. The free tax preparation solution also wanted a chance to reach the approximately 111.3 million people who watched the game on Sunday.

“Rather than focusing on the act of doing your taxes, we wanted to connect viewers with the emotion of being totally free – the same feeling you have when using TaxACT’s free product,” Peterson commented. “Given the size and scope of previous Super Bowl audiences, we decided a national spot was the best way to cut through the industry noise and tell as many consumers as possible that frees are not created equal.”

TaxACT’s spot was part of a campaign that also included social media, public relations, email and internet components.