Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The AD That Won The Super Bowl!

Yes, we all know the outcome of the New York Giants' battle with the New England Patriots, but there's another Super Bowl score.  One that gives us the ranking for the top 10 commercials. This year for the first time that involves USA Today’s Ad Meter and the forces of Facebook, and those results will be in on Tuesday evening.

We all know that Super Bowl commercials are as entertaining as the game itself. What you might not realize is that competition for top choice contenders is equally as fierce, but it hasn’t always been that way. In 1989, USA Today, in an effort to build brand awareness and advertising revenue, introduced a very smart marketing strategy. They took a small panel of people, put them in a room with a meter, and told them to rate the Super Bowl ads on a scale from one to 10 during the game.

These rankings were published in USA Today the next day, headlining Monday’s paper, and quickly were re-broadcast by other media outlets becoming the focal point for morning TV news and radio talk shows. And just like that, USA’s Ad Meter results were adopted as the marketing gospel for who “won” the Super Bowl.

For corporations who are investing something like $100,000 a second, USA’s ad score card is taken seriously. One epic example from 2007 is when CareerBuilder’s Big Game ad didn’t make the Ad Meter’s top ten, and that Monday morning right after the Super Bowl they put their advertising business up for an agency review. An Ad Meter certainty, as Rob Schwartz, TBWA/Chiat Day Chief Creative Officer, recently described it to Ad Age editor, Michael Learmonth: “If you’re No. 32 on the Ad Meter, better put your resumes together.”

The reality is that top placement in USA’s Ad Meter still bestows privileged status (and longer-term employment) to the agencies and companies that produce these advertisements. But this year it seems that the digital age, where consumer research, media information, TV ratings, online intelligence, and mobile measurement are part of a marketer’s daily routine, has brought a change in USA’s Ad Meter evaluation methodology.

In addition to selecting two consumer panels in two secret locations, USA opened up the voting to you and me on Facebook. Yes, we have a chance to actually take part in the 2012 USA TODAY Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter. There’s still time to view, rate, and share the Super Bowl ads with your friends. Voting started at kickoff on Sunday, but it doesn’t end until Tuesday, February 7 at 6:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PST. And, according to the website, America's pick is listed after at 10 p.m. EST on February 7 at this address.

Having a chance to vote is certainly great fun; just, two thoughts on the value of those top picks. The first one is that the only list that really matters is the one that’s relevant to you. Jeff Louis points out some great alternatives to USA’s Ad Meter picks in his recent article,Top 11 Super Bowl Ads of the 21st Century. Second thought is: remember that no matter what the ratings are, the real difference an ad makes is in how many people actually buy the product. And yes, there are ways to figure that out, but that’s for another post. Now go vote — no telling where this election methodology will lead!