A Play by Play on Scoring a Super Bowl Advertising Touchdown

A Play by Play on Scoring a Super Bowl Advertising Touchdown

As everyone knows, the final game in every NFL season is the largest stage for advertisers, and viewers aren’t just sports fans. A quarter of last year’s viewers tuned in primarily to watch the commercials airing during the game—illustrating the uniqueness of the environment—one where viewers actually WANT to engage with ads.

After analyzing hundreds of Super Bowl ads and more than 1 million non-Super Bowl ads, Nielsen finds that the Super Bowl creates a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach audiences through repeat exposure, driving good creative into the ad resonance end zone. Exposure to an ad before the big game drove an impressive 15% lift in likeability and a 20% lift in viewers’ ability to remember the ad and brand correctly.

Advertisers need to understand not only the number of eyes watching, but what viewers are doing and how focused they are during the game and—more importantly—during game breaks. There are other elements that can push ads over the goal line of resonance success that are specific to this epic annual sporting event, too.


When an ad is aired after the Super Bowl it builds wear-in and higher effectiveness.


Whether you’re watching at a loud bar or party, or watching at home alone while live-Tweeting to stay on top of the action, the natural viewing environment has an effect on how we watch and listen to ads. As a result, advertisers should make sure brand cues are visually shown throughout the ad. Visuals and audio should relay the purpose of the ad individually, making the ad easy to follow regardless of whether a viewer is looking at the TV screen and can’t hear or scrolling through their news feed but still listening to the TV. Individual visual and audio cues are key in this environment.


The majority of Super Bowl viewers engage with the game via social media, either by actively writing posts or passively reading related posts. Catch these viewers where their interest is high and your brand is relevant.

Despite these unique strategies for advertisers to win the Super Bowl, ads that resonate during the big game are likely to resonate just as well at other times as well. Why? Because while the venue and audience size changes, the human brain does not.