Not all programs are right for all brands – even if that program happens to be the Super Bowl. The Brand Keys 9th annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey shows when it comes to ROI, touchdowns won’t be limited to the field. This year more than half the advertisers – nearly double from last year – are predicted to see substantial returns on their $3 million 30-second spots.

These findings are more than Monday-morning, creative quarterbacking. Day-after creative reviews are interesting and have a high ‘Water Cooler Effect,’ but ‘buzz’ (and tweets) comes in two frequencies: positive and negative. ’Wasn’t that terrible?’ isn’t a phrase that appears in any creative brief, and the survey brings into harsh relief a more important question: does the ad buy do anything for the brand’s bottom line?

This year’s survey (conducted last week) represents a national sample of 2,000 men and women, 18 – 65 years of age, who were going to watch Super Bowl XLV and examines the 29 brands reported in industry publications as having purchased spots. Like our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index it was created to predictively measure respondents’ reactions to brands within the context of the medium (the Super Bowl) and shows us how the media affects brand values – its brand equity, or the degree to which brand values are seen to meet or exceed customer expectations.

When a brand participates in a sponsorship like the Super Bowl those values can be enhanced. Or remain unchanged. Or actually degraded. Advertisers need to see a minimum increase of 7 % for a reasonable return on their investments. This year the numbers look like this:

Advertiser Super Bowl ROI (%)

Anheuser-Busch Bud Light +8

Audi of America +5

Best Buy +9

BMW +7

Bridgestone +5

Careerbuilder +7

CarMax -4 -3

Chrysler -4

Coca-Cola +3

Doritos +9

E*trade -2

GM Chevrolet -0- +10

Groupon +12

HomeAway +4

Hyundai +11

Kia +7

Mars +8

Mercedez-Benz +8

Paramount Pictures +2

PepsiMax +9

Pizza Hut +10

Skechers +12

Suzuki +8

Teleflora +8

Universal Studios +2

Volkswagen +4

Walt Disney Pictures +2

So, just like the Super Bowl, some win, and some lose. But unlike the Super Bowl, engagement assessments have nothing to do with ‘how many consumers watched’ and has everything to do with ‘how many were they emotionally engaged with the brand.’

Think of it as a reality check that lets advertisers know how super their media buys actually are.