If you snoozed through this year's Super Bowl, you weren't alone. Several of the brands that poured money into game day advertisements produced the same lackluster performance as the Carolina Panthers.

Still, a few brands executed well. According to a report by New York City-based L2, a business intelligence firm, there are digital lessons to learn from the Super Bowl ads crafted by Hyundai, Pokemon and Heinz Ketchup.

Those three were among the 60 brands that paid between $2.5 million to $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the NFL’s championship game on Feb. 7 that drew 111.9 million viewers.

For some, the investment paid off, especially when the social conversation that took place during the game is taken into consideration. And all of those Super Bowl commercials can still be viewed on YouTube, which in many cases offers a nearly limitless opportunity to make an impact.

But running an ad is no guarantee of success, even during a major event — and the traction the ad generates with customers and potential customers all depends on the quality and relevance of the content you offer them. And sustaining interest in those ads after the game ends requires creativity, innovation and engaging content, as companies like Coca-Cola are figuring out.

average cost of super bowl ad

Social Lift Tells the Story

One of the aspects the report examines is “social lift,” or the number of interactions on social media after the ad aired. The biggest winner here was Hyundai, with“The Chase” scoring 14 million mentions, the top spot among all of those vying for Super Bowl eyes. The ad is still doing well on YouTube, with 25 million views.

Social lift from Super Bowl ads

Two other dominant performances came in the second half, from Pokemon and Mini Cooper. They both averaged around 10 million interactions for their advertisements. Pokemon had a motivational ad that celebrated 20 years of the franchise, while Mini Cooper sought to redefine conceptions about its car models with its own ad packed with celebrities.

Others struggled, particularly in relation to where their ad ran during the game. The report notes there was a steady decline in viewership and social interaction as the game progressed, which was a likely result of a lackluster contest. But there are other indications that some of the nature of social media success has also changed.

Social Isn’t What It Was

According to the L2 report, the huge lift that brands got from Facebook and Twitter in the past wasn’t there this year. That’s because both social platforms have monetized their service so much that it takes a substantial advertising investment to get any type of boost. It’s not the free-for-all viral sensation that it used to be. Many companies and brands make significant monetary investments to create popular and aggressively-trending hash tags.

For this, L2 recommends exploring other channels like Snapchat, which is more susceptible to unpaid, viral sensations. For now, anyway. 

Since all the cool kids are on Snapchat, it won’t be long before the platform finds ways to monetize all that interaction. The key is to stay constantly aware of how the market and manners of marketing are evolving.

Learning Opportunities

Even getting the videos on YouTube before the game was only marginally successful. 

Pre-game release performance

While Hyundai joined Pokemon, Audi and the NFL with a lot of traction, 55 percent of the commercials didn’t get more than 30 percent of the organic views. It’s not just enough to be where the eyes are anymore, success with such a big event requires a long, viral campaign and a bit of magic with capturing the imagination of the audience. 

For next year’s contest, it leaves brands a lot to think about when it comes to deciding whether or not to fork over those millions. If marketing strategy is anything, it is ever-changing.

For New York City-based Interlude, a digital media company and interactive video developer, the future revolves around digital interactivity, which allows the viewer to actively participate in an experience rather than watch passively like they do with TV or even an ad on YouTube. It demonstrated how it can immerse consumers in a brand narrative in a recent partnership with Coca-Cola.

As part of Coke's #ShareACoke campaign, and to complement its recent Coke Mini: Hulk vs. Ant-Man Super Bowl spot, Coke hired Interlude to transform the ad to an interactive entertainment version experience. As Interlude explained on its website:

"Just like the Super Bowl commercial, our interactive version taps into your inner child and invites you to step into an epic battle between Marvel’s Hulk and Ant-Man for the last mini-can of Coke. In our version of the video, a charmingly immature guy plays out his fantasies of the battles in his living room. Switch between the two parallel worlds to see the different ways he experiences clashes between his favorite childhood toys."

Think of interactivity as a testament to the power of an on-demand, cross-channel, digitally-fueled world. In today's world, static content — even if you reveal it during the Super Bowl — is just the beginning.

Title image courtesy of Heinz

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