Ads Trump Football in Super Bowl Survey

More consumers cite spots than sport as favorite part of the big game

American adults prefer watching Super Bowl commercials to the game itself, according to a survey released today by Chicago-based market research company Lab42.

Perhaps take it with a grain of salt, but of the 500 respondents age 18+, 39 percent said that the commercials were their favorite part of the game while 28 percent said watching the football game was their primary interest. Other options were food and the halftime show, which were No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

That's some good news for advertisers shelling out an average of $3.8 million for a 30-second spot.

"The commercials are great for all kinds of consumers to engage with the Super Bowl regardless of whether their team is playing or not," said Lab42 CEO Gauri Sharma. "It's very interesting that 64 percent of the respondents said half or more of their conversations with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials."

Of course, it's not a clear-cut finding. Last year, for example, a Harris Interactive survey of 2,625 U.S. adults, conducted for discount aggregator, found that 47 percent planning to watch the 2012 Super Bowl were doing so because they loved football and would not miss the big game, while 37 percent said they would watch primarily for the commercials.

Still, 73 percent of of U.S. adults consider Super Bowl commercials to be entertainment, according to another survey last year, conducted by BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation.

Lab42, whose clients include advertising agencies and brands, conducts its surveys online, reaching consumers on social networking sites and through apps. The firm conducted the survey because it wanted to parse consumers' expectations, and the priorities, ahead of this year's advertising bonanza, Sharma said.

The 500 respondents were equally divided between men and women, surveyed in the second week of December. Twenty-two percent of them were age 18-24; 32 percent were age 25-34; and 22 percent were age 35-44.

The preference shifted based upon gender. Forty-one percent of men said watching football was their favorite part of the Super Bowl, while 44 percent of women said they preferred watching the ads.

That despite the fact the airwaves during the game tend to be dominated by male-centric brands in categories like beer and auto, said Sharma. "Females are engaged as well…[They're] looking to be wowed. There may be an opportunity for female-centric brands to make a splash during this event."

Some 33.6 percent of men, meanwhile, also said the commercials were their favorite part of the game.

The survey found that 72 percent of Lab42's overall respondents thought Super Bowl commercials are funnier than other spots and 57 percent also thought Super Bowl ads were more creative. Only 21 percent, though, found them more memorable than other ads.

More than a third of those surveyed said they have shared a Super Bowl ad using social media, and 69 percent said they had rewatched an ad online.

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