What Advanced Social Analytics Teach Us About The Long-Term Impact Of Super Bowl Advertising
How does Super Bowl advertising impact brand perception? Columnist Rick Miller shares insights from social data about Loctite, Nationwide Insurance and McDonald's.
On Super Bowl Mondays — after games go in the history books and uneaten cheese dip goes in the trash — media wonks and marketing pundits take to their pulpits to declare the best and worst TV spots and social campaigns rolled out during the big game. The trade press trots out every metric from YouTube views to brand mentions to completely subjective opinion to anoint the game’s best ads.
But what can advanced social analytics teach us about the game’s impact on sponsors if we take a longer-term view? Do brands maintain the emotional connections that their slick TV creative gains them on Super Bowl Sunday? Can one TV spot make a lasting impact on brand health?
Below is what we learned using advanced analyses of social data about three very different brands that advertised in Super Bowl XLIX.
Networked Insights’ natural language classification tools detect nearly 50 different emotions consumers express in social media posts. For our Super Bowl analysis, we combined some subsets of positive emotions into four groups:
We analyzed posts in each category, for each advertiser, over a 14-day baseline prior to the big game to create a daily average. Then we compared that daily average with the number of posts in each emotional category on Super Bowl Sunday.
This way, we could compare how many posts a brand earns on, say, “trust” on a typical day versus what they earned Super Bowl Sunday. Lastly, we took a 14-day post-Super Bowl look to see if consumers’ reactions had any staying power.
The first brand we evaluated is Loctite, the glue manufacturer. Not a major player like a Coke or GM, Loctite averages at best a few hundred brand mentions each day. Typically, only 10-15 of these mentions contain any positive emotion (and fewer still contain negative emotion).
Loctite is discussed sparingly by consumers and in mostly neutral fashion. But the brand crushed it on Super Bowl Sunday; its quirky TV spot generated nearly 11,000 consumer discussions — roughly 3,500 of which fell into one of our positive-emotion categories above.
Did consumers’ infatuation last? In the 14-day period after the Super Bowl, Loctite generated an average of 52 positive conversations per day, a 4x-5x boost. But at the end of the 14-day window, that average was returning to pre Super Bowl levels.
The next brand of interest is Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide spends far more than Loctite on national advertising — but like glue, insurance is not a category consumers speak about frequently in social channels. Nationwide averages about 1,000 brand mentions each day, and prior to Super Bowl, roughly 100 per day were specifically positive — an order of magnitude larger than Loctite, but still not huge numbers.
Nationwide’s Super Bowl XLIX story already is part of marketing lore. The brand ran two TV spots: the first featuring popular actress Mindy Kaling; the second, a more somber piece warning America of the dangers of child accidents. As consumers reacted to the clever Mindy spot, Nationwide watched its positive emotional engagement soar. Nearly 4,000 consumers took to social to applaud the ad and tip their caps to Nationwide.
Then the wheels fell off; the “Make Safe Happen” piece ran, and negative reaction exploded. Consumers tweeted and posted furiously about their dislike and confusion toward the ad and Nationwide in general.
What was the net effect? Prior to the game, Nationwide averaged 98 positive posts per day; after the game they average 137 — so there has been an increase in positive emotional connection. However, prior to the Super Bowl, the brand attracted only 11 negative posts per day, and now they average nearly 70. Is this bad? Good? Immaterial? We’ll explore later in this article.
The final brand to learn from is a marketing juggernaut: McDonald’s. Pre-Super Bowl, consumers generated nearly 2,500 posts per day that contained one of the four positive emotional elements described above. The company debuted its “Pay with Lovin‘” campaign via a TV ad and a Twitter campaign that offered prize packs for every product advertised during the game.
In terms of sheer volume, McDonald’s saw positive emotional engagement increase more than any brand during the Super Bowl — to more than 37,500 posts. Yet in the 14 days post-Super Bowl, they averaged 2,750 positive posts per day… an improvement over their pregame norm, but only by 10 percent.
So, how can we tell which investments mattered?
Social Analytics & Brand Health
Most CMOs and senior-level brand managers use a more complex set of metrics to gauge the fruits of their marketing efforts. Brand health scores contain a number of elements, like:
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer loyalty
- Brand advocacy
Social data, with its rich content and context, is useful in quantifying consumer conversation in each of these brand health categories (and more). Did our set of Super Bowl advertisers see notable changes in brand health? We evaluated the brand health components mentioned above for each brand to find out.
Loctite, the little brand that made a big bet, appears to have won big. It grew all three brand health scores by more than 100 percent — with customer satisfaction conversation growing an astounding 677 percent. (Although to be fair, the brand started with a small base of conversations to grow from, and much of the satisfaction was directed toward the brand’s bold Super Bowl move and not the product itself.)
Nationwide, which was the butt of many jokes (both on social media and in the trade mags), still managed to grow two of its three brand health scores: satisfaction and loyalty (270 percent and 226 percent, respectively) as the overall conversation generated by the “Make Safe Happen” ad caused many consumers to remark about their good experiences with Nationwide as a company — even if they didn’t like the ad. However, Nationwide lost ground in brand advocacy, down 38 percent.
McDonald’s saw the smallest overall gains in brand health — but the gains should still be good news for the Golden Arches marketing teams. Total brand health is up 34 percent in the aftermath of the Super Bowl. For a big brand like McDonalds, that’s a notable move. Satisfaction and advocacy conversations were both up 45 percent, and although customer loyalty dipped 5 percent after the Super Bowl, McDonald’s regularly generates a large volume of loyalty conversation, so minor fluctuations in this metric are common.
So, What Do Social Data Teach Us About Super Bowl Advertising?
First, it’s possible for brands to make very specific emotional connections with consumers over the span of a 30- or 60-second piece of TV creative (especially if TV is bolstered by a good digital campaign). These connections can last beyond the game, but the window of consumer connection is likely only a few weeks at best. Both Loctite and Nationwide, which created big spikes in positive emotion with their investments were at or below pre-Super Bowl levels 14 days afterward.
Second, the adage of “all press is good press” loosely correlates when it comes to Super Bowl investments and brand health. Even Nationwide, whose second piece of TV creative generated widespread backlash, still enjoyed short-term gains in brand health simply from the increased overall discussion of its brand.
Much has been made of complementing expensive Super Bowl TV spend with big plays in social media marketing. We’d suggest that even modest investments in social analytics – before and after the game – can help brands make the most of either type of investment.