It's close, but a new Nielsen viewer survey shows that just over half (51 percent) of respondents enjoy the Super Bowl more for the ads than the game.
Those results were based on a sample of more than 25,000 households in Nielsen's Homescan panel. Nielsen said details like how the results broke out among men and women separately weren't available.
Still, Randall Beard, evp of Nielsen IAG, concludes that the game is a "marketing bonanza" with so many viewers "waiting for the pitch" from advertisers. "The pressure is on advertisers to create and place ads that will have lasting impact," he said.
The study also found that advertisers get a bigger spike in the first quarter of the game, versus subsequent quarters, for metrics such as general recall and likeability.
For example, general recall for ads airing in the first quarter of the game averaged 69 percent for the last three Super Bowls. By the fourth quarter it slipped to 58 percent, Nielsen said. Likeability for ads in the first quarter averaged 40 percent but fell to 25 percent by the fourth quarter.
The research company said that for commercials that aired in the fourth quarter, performance settled at a level closer to the average for all TV ads.
Nielsen's data crunching also showed that cross-platform exposure earns Super Bowl advertisers "extra points." Recall increases an average 31 percent for ads that air both on TV and the Web.
Ads in the game drive much more short-term Web traffic than long-term traffic. Last year, next day traffic to the Web sites of Super Bowl advertisers was up an average 63 percent. But only two of the five Web-only advertisers in last year's game showed month-to-month traffic growth from January to February 2009.
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