By Barry Janoff
February 3, 2015: With more than 114 million viewers helping to establish Super Bowl XLIX as the highest rated Big Game and TV show ever, companies that paid upward of $4.5 million for a 30-second spot on NBC are looking beyond the often superfluous ad meter likability ratings to more important ROIs.
Although there were fewer brands in the automotive category than in previous years, a number of the car brands that did pay for a parking space saw major return of interest, which they will now work to translate to return on investment.
According to statistics supplied by online car-shopping firm Edmunds.com, Mercedes-Benz and BMW saw "the most significant spikes in traffic on Edmunds.com after their ads ran during Super Bowl XLIX."
According to Edmunds.com's real-time analysis, by the end of the New England Patriots' 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT had the biggest cumulative spike in traffic, with a 2189% jump over previous Sunday averages on Edmunds.com.
Meanwhile, the BMW i3 captured the second most buzz on Edmunds.com, where its cumulative traffic climbed 583%.
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Super Bowl commercial, "Fable," featured a CGI-driven retelling of the classic race between the Tortoise and the Hare; it also had several lead-in "Showdown" teasers during the week leading to Super Bowl Sunday anchored by NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice along with Playboy bunny Stephanie Branton.
The BMW i3 commercial, "Newfangled Idea," featured Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel, opening with a clip from 1994 when the Internet was still in its embryonic mysterious beginnings and then fast-forwarding to 2015 with the pair seeking to decipher the i3's internal workings.
"Even though these two advertised vehicles are likely to be sold in small volume to niche audiences, the BMW and Mercedes brands will enjoy the overall buzz they have generated, especially as both continue their efforts to grow their overall reach into new car shopper segments," Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com senior analyst, said in a statement. "Both brands will be quite happy that the millions of dollars they invested had the desired effect."
Other automakers that experienced the biggest cumulative traffic increases on Edmunds.com included the Lexus RC 350 568% ("Let's Play"), Fiat 500x 503% ("Blue Pill") and Jeep Renegade 405% ("Beautiful Lands").
Over the past five games — Super Bowl XLIV through Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVIII — the top five ad spenders totaled $456.6 million, led by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which spent $152.5 million during that period as the exclusive category broadcast partner.
The next four: Chrysler Group, now FCA US LLC ($89.5 million), PepsiCo ($76.6 million), Hyundai ($69.8 million) and Volkswagen ($68.1 million), according to marketing, research and analytic company Kantar Mediad.
Last year, $113 million was spent by 11 different car brands, accounting for more than a quarter of the total ad time in the game, per Kantar. This year, however, Volkswagen was one of the auto brands that did not have a media buy during Super Bowl XLIX. Among the others: Acura, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar and Lincoln.
For those carmakers that did participate in Super Bowl XLIX, Edmonds.com also tracked what it called cumulative lifts in site traffic to the Web sites of Super Bowl auto advertisers. The firm said lifts were determined by comparing unique mobile and desktop traffic on Edmunds.com's make and model pages against average Sunday traffic levels.
Chevrolet, which sponsored the pre-game show and showed four Colorado ads, experienced an increase of 25% site traffic to Colorado pages during the pre-game and 1104% during the first quarter of the game, according to Edmunds.com.
Brands with the highest Web site lifts were led by Lexus (37%), Mercedes-Benz (36%), Fiat Chrysler (35%), MINI 18%), BMW (16%) and Chevrolet 13%
Among the lowest in this category: Jeep (3%) and Kia (2%), which featured former James Bond-Remington Steele actor Pierce Brosnan for its Sorento line in "The Perfect Getaway."
Edmunds.com said its analysts noted "especially strong activity at halftime for vehicles that advertised earlier during the Super Bowl." That included Fiat 500x (up 14627%), BMW i3 (up 1807%), BMW i8 (increased 501%), Chevrolet Colorado (up 421%) and MINI Cooper (increased 258%).
In the moments following its halftime ad, Edmonds.com said traffic to the Toyota Camry site traffic increased 364%.
All the automakers who advertised during the Super Bowl succeeded in getting the attention of car shoppers during this big game, and that's something to celebrateAmong other analysis from Edmonds.com:
• During the third quarter of the game, Dodge Challenger ads lifted its traffic on Edmunds 232%
• Fiat 500x increased 3981% in the moments following its second quarter ads; interest remained high in the third quarter, delivering a 986% lift for the vehicle
"All the automakers who advertised during the Super Bowl succeeded in getting the attention of car shoppers during the game, and that's something to celebrate."
• Jeep Renegade was advertised in the third quarter of the game and traffic to its pages immediately increased 1031%; during fourth quarter the increase was 5720%
• Kia Sorento traffic increased 213% immediately following its third quarter ad
• Lexus NX's second quarter ad generated an increase of 341%. Edmunds.com said that the brand did even better immediately after its RC 350 ad ran in the third quarter, increasing vehicle's page traffic on Edmunds 5702%.
The RC continued to enjoy success in the fourth quarter with a 690% lift in traffic to its pages on Edmunds.com
• MINI sponsored an early part of the pre-game show and showed five ads; site traffic to MINI Cooper increased 48% during that period
• Nissan brand consideration increased 90% immediately following its second quarter ad.
"All the automakers who advertised during the Super Bowl succeeded in getting the attention of car shoppers during this big game, and that's something to celebrate," said Caldwell. "But it's a lot easier to create a big bang than it is to sustain the momentum, and that will be the big challenge for all Super Bowl advertisers moving forward."
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