This year, social media—especially Twitter—played a huge role for Super Bowl advertisers.  During the game, almost every Super Bowl commercial broke into Twitter’s top ten U.S. trends.  However, for most brands, the social media buzz was short-lived.  Once the confetti stopped falling in Indianapolis, people stopped chatting about Super Bowl commercials on Twitter.  The next day, people turned to Google and YouTube to find their favorite commercials and learn more about the products/services featured in the ads.  Savvy advertisers integrated search and social, using paid search to capture Super Bowl demand, including sending search traffic to their commercials on YouTube and Facebook.  In essence, search and social worked in tandem to extend and capture commercial buzz.  Below, we’ve collected some highlights (and lowlights) in search and social for this year’s advertisers:

(1) Social Buzz: Initial Reactions

At every commercial break, Super Bowl viewers turned to Twitter to chat about each commercial in real-time.  This year, Twitter was the place for initial commercial reactions.  For instance, the below screenshot shows Twitter’s top trends right after Budweiser aired its popular “Here We Go” Rescue Dog commercial.  You can see that three of the commercial’s themes—#budlight, #herewego and Help Rescue Dogs—were trending:


Some brands even sought to spur the social conversation by incorporating social media into their commercials (according to Altimeter, 16% of Super Bowl commercials included social media (Facebook, Twitter, hashtags) within the ad).  Two of the most memorable hashtags came during the first two commercials of the game: #MAKEITPLATINUM for Bud Light and #SoLongVampires for Audi.  This strategy worked, as the hashtags quickly trended:

Twitter 2

Bud Light and Audi also looked to promote their hashtags in search.  For example, during the game, Bud Light included its #makeitplatinum hashtag in mobile paid search ads for the “Bud Light Platinum” keyword:

Bud hash

And Audi bid on its “So Long Vampires” hashtag on Google, directing traffic to its “Vampire Party” on Facebook:


But brands didn’t need to incorporate hashtags to trend on Twitter.  Brand names, as well as commercials with memorable themes (like “Prohibition is OVER” for Budweiser) or memorable people (like Clint Eastwood for Chrysler’s “Halftime in America”) trended for those themes/people:

Big twitter

Overall, the Brand Bowl noted that Doritos’s Great Dane ad led in Twitter buzz with 48,498 tweets, 29% of which were positive.  H&M’s David Beckham ad finished second with 44,031 tweets, 14% of which were positive.  Finishing last was Hulu’s Will Arnett ad with 1,191 tweets, 10% of which were positive. 

(2) Search Integration: Extending the Buzz

While people were buzzing about commercials on Twitter during the game, they were searching for much broader Super Bowl-related content on Google.  Interestingly, during and directly after the Super Bowl no (zero!) Super Bowl-commercial-related keywords broke into Google’s top twenty Hot Searches.  This differed from previous years, when commercial keywords dominated Google’s Hot Searches during the game.  The below screenshot (taken during the Fourth Quarter) shows broad Google trends like “Madonna,” “Tom Brady,” “Super Bowl National Anthem,” and “guacamole recipe” (but no commercials):

Trends 1

However, as social buzz died down, more people turned to search to find their favorite commercials and learn more about the brands.  This is when we started to see some Super Bowl brands make their way from the social trends to the broader search trends.  Two of these brands were Acura (“Transactions” with Jerry Seinfeld) and Chrysler (“Halftime in America” with Clint Eastwood), which ranked in the top five Google Trends by noon the day after the Super Bowl:

Trends 2

But did these brands capitalize on the momentum they created?  With their commercials, Acura and Chrysler clearly struck a chord, but Chrysler did a much better job of capturing demand.  For instance, the day after the Super Bowl, Acura (1) didn’t have 100% Google paid search coverage for the “Acura NSX” keyword, (2) wasn’t directing YouTube users to its commercial by bidding on the “Acura NSX” keyword in YouTube search and (3) wasn’t bidding on “Acura commercial” on Google.  In fact, Acura’s competitor and fellow Super Bowl advertiser, Volkswagen, was bidding on “Acura commercial” to capitalize on Acura’s buzz:


On the other hand, Chrysler was capitalizing on the demand it created.  It bid on “Chrysler Super Bowl commercial” and “Halftime in America” (the name of the commercial) in paid search, sending searchers directly to the commercial on YouTube.

Chrysler goog

Chrysler was also capturing YouTube searchers with a YouTube paid search ad leading to its commercial.  However, Chrysler’s commercial was temporarily taken down by YouTube because the NFL had a copyright claim on the commercial.  The commercial was reposted after Chrysler and the NFL worked out the issue.

Chrysler yt
Best Practices

What did we learn from this year’s Super Bowl marketing efforts?  Like every year, some advertisers did a good job and some could have done better.  Here are five overall recommendations we took from this year:

  1. Take Everything Into Account:  We saw commercial viewers jumping from Twitter to search to Facebook to YouTube.  Advertisers that tied these channels together saw the most success.  This means doing things like featuring your hashtags in paid search (like Budweiser did with #makeitplatinum), sending Google searchers directly to your video on YouTube (like Chrysler did) and using search to promote commercial parties on Facebook (like Audi’s Vampire Party).  Also keep in mind that advertisers could have utilized, for the same query, both a Google paid search ad that led to the commercial on YouTube and a Google paid search ad that led to the advertiser’s official site.  This would allow the advertiser to take over more search engine results page (SERP) real estate, while also helping searchers find exactly what they want (i.e. the commercial, or the official site).
  2. If You Don’t, Your Competitors Will: Bid on your Super Bowl keywords in paid search!  Every year, a brand forgets to do this.  This year, Acura achieved massive searcher demand for its keywords.  But, the day after the game, Acura wasn’t bidding on terms like “Acura commercial.”  Acura’s competitors, including Volkswagen, did bid on “Acura commercial” to divert Acura interest to Volkswagen.
  3. Bid on Commercial Themes:  Keep in mind that, after your commercial airs, people won’t just search for your brand name.  Chrysler bid on its commercial’s themes, including the commercial’s name, “Halftime at the Super Bowl,” to capture that searcher demand.
  4. Don’t Forget YouTube Paid Search!  After the game, people turned to YouTube to watch their favorite commercials.  Brands like Chrysler captured this demand by bidding on YouTube search keywords like “Chrysler Super Bowl commercial.”  Chrysler did this by buying paid search ads directly on YouTube.  But brands like Acura forgot YouTube paid search altogether.
  5. Work Out Any Legal Issues Beforehand:  Chrysler was a clear winner this year, but its commercial was taken down by YouTube because of a copyright dispute with the NFL.  The parties quickly resolved the issue, but Chrysler should have considered this beforehand so as not to lose valuable YouTube visibility at the height of the commercial’s popularity.

For more Super Bowl digital marketing strategies, see Performics’ CMO Briefing: Multiply the Impact of Your Super Bowl Commercial Through Digital Integration

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