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How Big Brands Tracked Super Bowl Ad Buzz on Social

Some of the toughest competition on TV during the Super Bowl happens when the game goes to commercial. And, the big-dollar brands paying for those coveted seconds of airtime want their social channels to support and provide feedback on their TV spend.

Simply Measured works closely with a number of brands that had Super Bowl ads this year. We were busy last week behind the scenes, helping them prepare. Hey, if you’re paying about $4.5 million per 30 seconds, you want to show all possible ROI.

Kristin Dean
Kristin Dean

One person in particular here at SM headquarters, Enterprise Client Partner Kristin Dean, was hustling to get  specific social analyses set up. We interviewed her just before the game about the trends she saw in brands’  approaches. Kristin zeroed-in on  three essentials: hashtag tracking, scheduled reports, and Twitter alerts.

Hashtag Tracking

To start, how would you describe the importance of social for brands that are advertising on TV for the Super Bowl?

I think it’s incredibly important. In the past two years we’ve seen hashtags be more prominent in the ad spots during the Super Bowl, really encouraging the audience to have a second-screen engagement and talk about the commercial on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Would you give me an idea of the frequency at which the brands with ad spots are tracking hashtags?

How Big Brands Tracked Super Bowl Ad Buzz on Social

I think it’s important to have a very specific branded hashtag if you are going to be running commercial engagements during the Super Bowl. You would set that up in your Simply Measured account ahead of time so we’re capturing that entire conversation. But, also, to be aware of other hashtags that might be created without your knowledge. People see the commercial and they might have interpreted a quote that’s really funny and they’re going to create a hashtag out of that.

Also, set up general conversation and listening terms around your more specific keywords, like “commercial” or “drive-through” if that’s in your ad. People might not see the hashtag at the end of your one minute spot during the Super Bowl but they’ll remember the commercial and they’ll go to Twitter and talk about that. You need to find ways to capture that conversation.

And, one thing that is awesome about Simply Measured is that you can schedule all of your reports. Throughout this week I’ve worked with brands to pre-schedule their reports.

Say their campaign launches Wednesday at noon, they’ll start receiving reports hour-over-hour from noon on or, as the week goes on, less frequently but still every 12 hours. Then, they’ll look at them on an hourly interval to see, if at 3 p.m. there was a huge spike on Twitter, what generated that spike.

Are many of the brands doing competitive tracking of other brands’ hashtags?

I haven’t seen that approach as much but I would definitely recommend competitive hashtag tracking. If you have competitors in your space, they don’t necessarily need to be direct competitors. They could be other candy brands or insurance brands or airlines. They may be competitors that have the same target demographic. Capture their Super Bowl campaign in your Simply Measured account, be it their hashtag or their actual social accounts, and see what sort of lift and engagement they get around that. That information is helpful for future planning. You can look back and see what occurred when planning for future Super Bowl campaigns or other global events.

Are these brands mostly on Twitter with their hashtag tracking or are they looking at Facebook or Instagram hashtag usage, as well?

It’s definitely important to track it on all  channels but, really, where we see most hashtag engagement is Twitter.

What are the smartest and most thorough brands doing here that others aren’t?

The smartest brands are dedicating resources to measurement. They have someone who is focused on measuring the success of the campaign and providing strategic recommendations to the brand team throughout the week.

This is especially true if they’re launching the ad the week or two prior, which we’ve seen be a really common trend for brands to get the most bang for their buck. Having a dedicated resource to dig into the data and see how the audience is perceiving the ad, whether they think it’s hilarious or they think it’s super tacky.

Also, it’s important to have community manager resources dedicated, as well. An well-loved  feature for them is our Simply Measured Twitter Alerts tool, so you can get notified anytime someone mentions a Twitter handle or a specific hashtag or keyword that has a Klout score threshhold, a follower count threshhold, and also  just percentage of mention increases over the previous hour. That’s really helpful for a community manager. If they are going to be receiving tens of thousands of mentions they have to be able to prioritize who is getting responses in a quick and efficient way.

Scheduled Reports

Which reports are they scheduling mostly?

I would say the Twitter Activity Report, which is going to measure conversation on Twitter. And then our Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, seeing the kind of brand lift you’re getting across the board, whether it be on Twitter or on your YouTube channel where you hosted the ad or Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, you name it.

You see which channels are really supporting the promotion of the campaign and which ones are growing as a result. And, of course, digging into the specific channel that you’re seeing engagement on.

For example, some brands will launch a mini Tumblr site to support their Super Bowl campaign. Tumblr is a really campaign-specific resource. The key is measuring what’s most important and where your audience is going to be.

Any tips on the timing of the reports? 

I would recommend scheduling your wrap-up reports ahead of time. Monday morning when you get to the office after a crazy Sunday, it’s great to already having those reports in your inbox, ready to go, to measure the campaign in its entirety.


There will also be follow-up conversations in the days to come, after the Super Bowl, people are always talking about which brands did best during the Super Bowl, so scheduling those reports, as well. It’s great to get to work on Monday and have everything ready to go for your review.

Are there reports these brands normally run but are just running more frequently during the Super Bowl? Or, are they setting up new ones just for their Super Bowl campaigns?

Absolutely. The reports with keyword mentions that they are tracking, specific to the Super Bowl – we’re definitely seeing those reports more frequently. Also, receiving what they might be receiving on a weekly basis, but switching that to a daily basis to see day-over-day how KPIs are growing or not. 

Twitter Alerts Feature

You mentioned the Twitter alerts feature as a common one. Can you explain what it covers?

It’s really simple. What it will do is shoot you an email anytime something happens that is important to you. For example, someone with a Klout score over 60 mentions a hashtag. It will email you saying, “X person said this, Klout score over 60.” Or, you set it up to alert you that the mentions of a certain keyword are up 50 percent over the previous hour. Or, if you are on the phone it’s really great, if you’re on the go. Say you are watching the game with your family it’s really easy to see what’s going on and get alerts on specific events that are occurring. You can also schedule reports and receive those hourly on your phone. It can be for any keyword on Twitter or any Twitter handle. It’s all in real time.

Any last thoughts?

I actually think social is becoming even more important for brands that are not advertising on TV during the Super Bowl but want to take advantage of the buzz around the Super Bowl.

For example, Newcastle Ale is a great example of this. This year they did an advertisement with 37 other brands. It includes the actors using Brawny wipes while drinking Newcastle beer and wearing Jockey underwear.  It’s really hilarious. They actually collaborated with all of these brands.

It points out how there are all these great American brands that don’t get to advertise during the Super Bowl. The hashtag on that is #brandofbrands. Maybe if I were the community manager on that campaign I’d want to set up conversation analysis around not only #brandofbrands but the word “Newcastle” and a boolean for all the other brands included in the commercial. Or, maybe you’d want to track all the other major brands you’re partnering with to see the lift they get to wrap up and show them the success of the campaign. 


Bridget Quigg

Bridget Quigg

Hello, fellow Marketeers. My job at Simply Measured is to tell Kevin and Lucy how awesome they are at running the blog. Because, they are.

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