Who Won the Super Bowl Ad Rankings?

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Who Won the Super Bowl Ad Rankings?

When it comes to the Super Bowl, measurement companies love to strut their stuff and over the last few days there's been a cascade of Super Bowl ad ranker releases.  So, who won?  The answer is surprising: no one!  You'd think that the world's best and most innovative technologies, which is how these measurement firms characterize their methodologies, would yield a consensus of the Super Bowl's best, most effective ads.  But the rankings are all over the map, and there isn't one "leading" ad that appears on the Top Three ad lists across eight measurement firms (Ace Metrix, Alphonso, EDO, Ipsos, iSpot, Salesforce, Sharablee and TVision Insights*).  So, which ranker should one believe?

Part of the answer to this question lies in the fact that each vendor's ranker addresses something very different.  For example:

  • Ipsos ranks by emotional engagement;
  • TVision Insights reports on attention;
  • Salesforce and Sharablee report on social media activity;
  • EDO reports on search activity;
  • iSpot ranks based on "digital share of voice";
  • Alphonso and Ace Metrix get special attention because they realize there's not just one approach to gauge ad "goodness."  Alphonso differentiates between "Most Viewed," "Most Memorable" and "Most Favorable."  Not to be outdone, Ace Metrix ranks by "Funniest," "Most Heartfelt", "Ingenious", "Eerie" and "WTF."

While that answer is understandable, it's not acceptable.  It's certainly true that different marketers find value in different metrics, and there's plenty of room in the market for all comers in assessing advertising's effectiveness.  But when rankings results are all over the map, confusion abounds prompting questions and observations for measurement vendors like these:

  • How do your metrics translate to consumer outcomes and marketer success?  For example, we all agree that "emotion" and "attention" are important, but where are the analytics that demonstrate that your metric definitively contributes to outcomes that your clients are seeking?
  • Related to the above, in a time when more and more rich data is available, isn't it time to move beyond proxy metrics such as "funniest", "attention", "emotion", "search", "social," etc?  Yes, all marketers want to support metrics up and down the sales funnel.  But when all is said and done it is about boosting sales.  Are the metrics you share in your rankings more likely to lead to a sales impact?
  • Marketers are yearning for cross-platform metrics that make sense, yet progress towards true cross-platform measurement has been elusive.  What steps are each of you taking to contribute more to resolving gaps in the cross-platform effort?

Another challenge presented each year by these rankings is the paucity of significant market insights that are a byproduct of one of the most significant marketing events of the year.  To address that gap I recommend Sapna Maheshwari's New York Times article and Forrester's article by Jim Nail.

A full disclosure parting shot.  In my past lives at AdRelevance, Nielsen and Symphony Advanced Media, I've participated in my share of Super Bowl ad rankings for better and for worse.  One of the great things about getting a little older is there are some things I just don't have to do again.  For example, attending my kids' lacrosse games in the Seattle rain.  Or paying again for tuitions or weddings.  To this list I will add: generate another Super Bowl ad ranking.  Just like a former colleague from my Jupiter Media Metrix days said, "It occurs to me that I am almost as happy about the Patriots being in the Super Bowl as I am about not having to gin up some Super Bowl-related data insights in an attempt to get PR coverage."

*Samba TV's results weren't available when this was written.

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