What Did We Learn From Super Bowl 50?

Super Bowl ads are just as hyped as the game itself, and this year was no exception. But here's the million-dollar question: if you spend $5 million on a 30-second Super Bowl game day spot, how do you get the best bang for your buck? A modern consumers' attention span is a mere 8 seconds, and is likely impacted by the use of a second screen or digital device. Not surpringly, adroit advertisers leverage social media platforms to amplify the effect and drive engagement beyond just the broadcast.

Here's a closer look at some new marketing tactics and the brands that implemented them to win the Super Bowl for advertisers.

Publish more content AND earlier on social media
The most successful campaigns of SB50 were the ones that married the traditional ad with a strong social component. More than any previous year, brands opted to push their content weeks in advance. If you take a look at the graph below (via Adweek) you'll see that the publishing volume three weeks before game day is way higher than 2015, building up the buzz all the way until the big day.

Online activity drives overall ROI
An analysis of the top-performing ads shows that higher spending more doesn't equal higher engagement. Check out the table (data via iSpot) of the top five ads below. Notice that Mountain Dew had the highest online engagement by far, but was not the top spender among the top five. Smart marketers are rewarded for smart spending.

Smart brands in the spotlights
Brands who enjoyed the highest engagement rates were the ones that posted on-brand content on their social channels before, during, and after the game. Capitalizing on the audience's use of a second screen meant that brands could post supplementary material to enhance the Super Bowl experience with a consistent theme. Here's a look of some of the top perfoming social media posts from SB50:

Reaction GIFs in real time are a great engagement tool because they're fun, sharable, and can be deployed at a moments' notice. Both Mountain Dew and T-Mobile created a slew of reaction GIFs based on their TV campaigns, and posted them whenever something big happened.

Posting real-time on-brand content was what made an impact with users. Take Doritos for example: they posted point-of-view shots from inside the roaring stadium, providing followers with a unique look into the excitement of the stadium without spending $5000 on a ticket.

Another big trend this year was posting teaser content before game day. Hyundai posted their 3 different -but all hilarous- Super Bowl ads on social channels a week before the game, and were rewarded with millions of views across multiple platforms. This helped the brand stay top-of-mind for weeks.

So, what's the take-away? SB50 just reinforced what we already knew: relying on traditional TV ads is not enough for an morden campaign, social media engagement is crucial to overall campaign success, and the content makes a difference for your ROI!