NEW YORK: More than half of last year's Super Bowl ad viewers did not watch the commercials on TV, new research has shown.

In The Science of Sharing: Super Bowl XLIX, adtech company Unruly surveyed 1,200 people to evaluate their engagement with 16 ads that aired during Super Bowl 2015; 38% of participants said they had seen an ad.

Of these, 51% of these said they had seen the commercial on their PCs, tablets and mobile phones rather than on TV.

"For marketers who think the Super Bowl is a TV-only event, this should be a huge wake-up call," declared Richard Kosinski, Unruly president.

"Marketers need to realise that in order to maximise their Super Bowl spend – valued at $5m for 30 seconds of airtime in 2016 – using smart targeting to reach an interested target audience is imperative," he added.

And with more people watching Super Bowl ads online rather than on TV, last year saw a record number of online video ad shares: 9m (and 483.6m views), which represented a 73% increase on 2014.

Unruly highlighted several possible reasons for this growth, including a 32% increase in the total number of ads released online, as advertisers experimented with formats outside of YouTube, including Facebook's video player for the first time, and Vine.

Further, more than half of these were released ahead of the TV broadcast itself in order to increase sharing opportunities; 39% of shares took place before the game.

Unruly also noted that many advertisers had used a much broader mix of strong emotions in their creative and suggested that a focus on those less frequently deployed, such as exhilaration and pride, could help cut through the clutter during the game.

Budweiser's "Lost Dog" spot was the most shared video ad from Super Bowl XLIX and Unruly highlighted the contrast between shares gained on Facebook versus YouTube in the lead up to the game.

At its peak, two days after the video was launched, shares on Facebook were around six times more than those on YouTube.

Data sourced from Unruly, Marketing Land; additional content by Warc staff