Advertising Sports Marketing Super Bowl

Super Bowl 51 needs more emotionally engaging ads to overcome last year's shortcomings, according to latest data


By Tony Connelly, Sports Marketing Reporter

January 12, 2017 | 3 min read

Advertisers will need to deliver more emotionally engaging ads at this year’s Super Bowl, according to video ad tech company Unruly, which found that online engagement dropped by almost 20% at Super Bowl 50.

Super Bowl

Doritos Super Bowl ad was the best performing ad of the 2016 spots

Unruly’s Science of Sharing: Super Bowl 50 study highlighted the shortcomings of many of last year’s big game ads, stating that advertisers failed to evoke intense emotional responses in viewers, a key driver of video shares and engagement.

The data shows that shares across social media fell from 9.03m in 2015 to 7.84m last year, representing a drop of 17%.

“Brands from Apple to Volkswagen to Budweiser have used the Super Bowl as a global forum for delivering some of the most memorable and talked-about ads of all time, but the data shows that in 2016 advertisers missed the mark, spending millions of dollars producing ads that sank without a trace on digital platforms,” said Unruly chief executive Sarah Wood.

She added: “In 2017, we want to help make the action during the commercial breaks as entertaining and as memorable as the action on the field.”

To that end, Unruly have highlighted some key touchpoints which advertisers must hit if they are to avoid the follies of missing the mark on such an expensive platform.

Analysis of the 2015 Super Bowl showed that when 80% of ads tested evoked intense emotional responses and delivered a wide range of emotional responses, including exhilaration and pride, factors which were largely absent last year.

Another key factor which many past successful Super Bowl ads had in common was the time of release. Last year seven out of 10 of the most shared Super Bowl ads (excluding movie trailers) airing before Super Bowl Sunday.

Music was also revealed to be a strong driver of shares, yet fewer than half of all ads used last year contained music. Around 70% of Super Bowl ads that were shared featured prominent soundtracks.

One of the brands which elicited the most adverse response was Budweiser. The alcohol brand’s #NotBackingDown ad fell from the number one spot in 2015 to number 55 in 2016. Affectiva’s facial coding tracking used in the study found that the ad’s aggressive tone did not go down well with some viewers, who showed expressions of dislike throughout the video.

In contrast, Doritos’ 'Ultrasound' ad was the most shared ad of the Big Game, with 29% of viewers citing they found the video intensely funny.

Many brands have been confirmed to be returning to this year’s event, including Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch, however the alcohol giant has opted to promote its Busch line at the big game for the first time.

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