Marketers that run Super Bowl commercials would benefit from rigorously tracking online and offline word of mouth (WOM) as they seek to determine the effectiveness of their spots, a study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Brad Fay, Ed Keller and Rick Larkin – all from Engagement Labs, a social-media data and analytics company – were the authors of the study, which is entitled How measuring consumer conversations can reveal advertising performance.

Their research covered ads from the 2019 Super Bowl and looked at offline and online word of mouth, YouTube views, Google search trends and the consumer rating of each brand’s commercials on the Ad Meter rankings from USA Today.

When comparing the week of the big game and the month that followed the NFL season-closer, the authors noted that the greatest shift in consumer activity was observable in YouTube views, which grew by an average of 114%.

“On average, the advertisers gained more than twice the views on their brand channels around the time of the broadcast versus the four prior weeks,” the study said.

“This makes sense because YouTube often is used as the platform for pre-releasing Super Bowl commercials, and consumers use it to replay and share commercials.”

Online conversations posted the second-largest increase, with an average improvement of 79% – an uptick that shows the distinct power of Super Bowl advertising.

The authors wrote: “Online conversation volume tends to be low absent a major campaign, so this is a metric that a Super Bowl can drive up dramatically versus the benchmark.”

Offline conversations, by contrast, proved “more difficult to move than social media”, with only an 18% lift on average compared with the first four weeks in January.

The authors attributed this to “variation in the quality of creative execution, and the fact that base levels for offline conversations are very large and thus difficult to move”.

Looking at Google search activity, the impact was found to be “surprisingly muted” and broadly similar to the trends witnessed for offline word of mouth, with an uptick of 15% on average.

The study zeroed in on brand-based conversation – whether face-to-face or online – as an important effectiveness indicator, as they are behavioural responses to advertising that usually occur soon after the moment of the moment of exposure.

More specifically, a spike in digital and real-life conversation can indicate that a spot hit the right target, was relevant, and led to identification and purchase consideration, as well as boosting the likelihood of people sharing that reaction.

“When these outcomes are achieved, purchases likely will follow – by the initial target and by people in that social network,” Fay, Keller and Larkin wrote.

“By contrast, commercials that earn favorable reviews from consumers, as with the Ad Meter system, fail to consistently perform better on behavioral metrics than unpopular commercials.”

Sourced from WARC