The Role of Search and Social for Super Bowl XLIX Advertisers

This year a 30-second ad spot during Super Bowl XLIX was estimated to cost a cool $4.5 million. Given the significant investment for the brands that rallied ad budgets around this event, how will these advertisers ensure they get the most bang for their buck?

While Sunday might be the big day for the actual commercials, brands have the opportunity to capture attention and awareness in the days leading up to as well as following the event. The digital arena offers a great way to insert yourself into the conversation and capitalize off the momentum, even for those advertisers who couldn’t justify budgets for some screen time.

A few days out from game day, I decided to do a quick search on “super bowl ads” to see how brands were leveraging paid search in anticipation of the big kickoff.

There are a few items of which to take note, and if we unpack these observations, we can uncover some trends and best practices worth discussing.

1. Use of Sitelinks

The use of ad extensions is a no-brainer to stand out, gain more real estate, and drive further engagement with consumers. In fact, both Bing Ads and Google boost that Sitelinks drive higher click-through rates, citing up to a 30 percent higher CTR when compared to standalone text ads.

In the example below, between the two ads shown, Doritos benefits from increased prominence on the Bing SERP by highlighting four links within its ad. For advertisers looking to gain even more visibility, enhanced Sitelinks provides even more room to work with, offering two lines of customizable text to accompany each link.


If you’re paying a premium to ensure you have visibility through the key time around the Super Bowl, you should make the most use of your position as you can with relevant Sitelinks.

2. Integrated Social Messaging Into Search Ads

With social playing a significant role in how audiences are interacting during the Super Bowl, it only makes sense that brands leverage this potential across channels by integrating and pushing social messages on search.


As seen above, heavy attention has been given to social action within Sitelinks such as liking the brand on Facebook, supplying the Twitter handle, or offering up a hashtag. With the strong signals given off in both search and social, there is opportunity to coordinate messages and drive synergy across channels for maximum impact.

3. Ads Driving to YouTube

Many brands who are leveraging paid search to promote their Super Bowl ads are driving audiences to YouTube channels to view early teasers, like Coke below.


According to some early data, 70 ads and teasers were uploaded to YouTube and a total of 70 million minutes of ads had been viewed on YouTube in the days leading up to the game.

While YouTube is a natural choice to lead consumers for video consumption, another channel should not be discounted – Facebook.

Score a Touchdown With Facebook Video

In its recent Q4 earnings call, Facebook reported that there are now 3 billion videos viewed on its site each day. Further insights revealed that 76 percent of U.S. Facebook users say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook – meaning that brands have a large opportunity at their hands to drive discovery and awareness of their videos via Facebook.

So are any brands taking advantage of Facebook video prior to the Super Bowl?

Take Budweiser, for example.

Its paid search ad in the days before the game drove consumers to its 2015 “Lost Dog” commercial on YouTube. While its YouTube channel has only 85,500 subscribers, the additional promotion and visibility garnered the video more than 2.7 million views in the same day it was posted. Simultaneously, Budweiser also posted the video to Facebook where its view count reached over 9.7 million with 400,00+ shares and 17,000+ comments (compared to the 1,300 or so on YouTube) after day one.


With more than 12 million fans on Facebook, Budweiser has a huge potential audience in a highly engaging and social environment. Budweiser isn’t the only brand seeing significant traction on Facebook either. Coca Cola’s Super Bowl Facebook videos are seeing exponentially more views than their YouTube counterparts.

With numbers like this, those brands that did not duplicate efforts across Facebook surely missed out.

It’s Not Over When the Whistle Blows: The Post-Super Bowl Strategy

Brands must not forget to ride the wave of post-Super Bowl activity, too. Google trend data shows that searches for “Super Bowl ads” peak on the Monday following the game.


Think about it: most people are going to head to the engines to search and find the hot commercials they may have missed or want to see again, so brands should follow-through and ensure they are there to capture post-event interactions.

Smarter marketers will remember that these trends are not exclusive to the Super Bowl; throughout the year there are ongoing opportunities to maximize programs in conjunction with key events and seasonality. The marketers that will rise to the top are those who continue to iterate and optimize strategies to keep pace with changing trends and tides.

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