Next Day Scorecards Don’t Paint an Accurate Picture of Super Bowl Ad Impact

The true measure of Big Game success is not what consumers said but what they did

Across the country, marketers are anxious to justify the $10 million-plus they invested in their Super Bowl ad—or rationalize their decision not to advertise on the biggest stage in TV advertising.

Maybe you’re one of them, furiously opening new tabs in search of a website with a glowing review of your ad that you can send to your boss. Or maybe you’re speed-scrolling through the USA Today Ad Meter desperate for news that your competitor’s buzzy Big Game ad didn’t get enough votes.

But here’s some unfortunate news. Relying on media sentiment and viewer polls might get you through the week, but by the end of this quarter or next, the actual impact of last night’s Super Bowl ads will be revealed in your sales and market share.

The truth is the correlation between post-game ad reviews and actual business outcomes is … nil, nada, zilch.

For instance, online retailer Temu got blistering reviews for its animated, jingle-powered ad that ran several times during the game. But despite being panned by critics, Temu scored the fifth and seventh most-engaging airings of Super Bowl LVIII. Its most powerful spot generating 1,343% more engagement than the median Big Game ad.

And because online consumer engagement behaviors are a proven predictor of business outcomes like market share, Temu’s Super Bowl triumph is likely to make itself apparent in the bottom line eventually—even though the brand lost the morning-after popularity contest.

If you want to spin your boss the morning after the game, you can share what people said about your ad. But if you want to position your brand (and career) for actual business success, you need to watch what consumers did because of your ad.

Know what works

Of course, not all marketers are sweating buckets the next day. Some are striding confidently into their post-game, secure in the knowledge that their ad accomplished its goal of moving viewers to real consideration and intent. Those are the marketers who know how their ads influence consumers’ actions all year long.

These marketers have been carefully measuring how effectively their various creative and media-buying choices impacted the behaviors most predictive of future sales—and planning their Super Bowl strategy accordingly.

Before they purchased a spot in this year’s Big Game, they understood what creative worked best for their brand. They knew how their NFL ads had historically performed, and which parts of the game generated the best results. When they booked the celebrity (or, increasingly, celebrities) for their Super Bowl ad, they did so after a careful evaluation of the types of high-profile figures who’ve been most effective at driving engagement in their category.

They were confident and secure in their choices. And when they woke up the morning after the game, they knew exactly which overnight metrics they’d be showing to the boss to prove their success.

The Super Bowl is over, but there’s always time left on the clock

If you’re one of the marketers anxiously waiting to see how your Big Game decision will pay off down the road, the good news is that there’s still time to take control and develop an action-oriented post-game strategy.

For instance, you’re probably going to run versions of your Super Bowl spot again on other programs, right? But where are you going to air those? And how many times will you show them to consumers before you take the campaign off the air? It’s not too late to use proven, predictive data to guide your campaign strategy and maximize the engagement that will drive outcomes.

Rather than falling prey to old-school, head-fake measurement, you can study your past engagement data to find the best mix of networks, programs and timeslots for your creatives. And instead of letting conventional wisdom tell you when to take an ad off the air, you can carefully monitor its performance over time to ensure you’re not leaving money on the table by cutting the legs off a still-effective spot.

For instance, T-Mobile aired a 30-second version of its Grease-inspired 2023 Super Bowl ad 777 times in the four months following the Big Game and the ad generated 41% more engagement per person than the year’s average T-Mobile spot.

Indeed, while this year’s Super Bowl has come and gone, results-driven marketing is in season all year round (and next year’s Super Bowl is already for sale). By drafting a playbook based on real consumer actions that are proven predictors of business outcomes, you’ll be well-positioned to make next season your best year yet.

And who knows? Maybe by the time next year’s Super Bowl rolls around, you’ll be one of the modern marketers getting a peaceful night of shut-eye.

Kevin Krim is president and CEO at EDO, Inc., the TV outcomes company—a leading platform measuring predictive behaviors driven by convergent TV advertising. EDO works with modern marketers to align advertising investments to business results—with detailed competitive, category, historical and predictive intelligence.