Super Bowl XLIX Ads: They were good but did they work?

Super Bowl XLIX Ads: They were good but did they work?
Jill Holden
February 05, 2015
Woman with workflow written on whiteboard

I love the day after the Super Bowl. I love reading about the top ads – the hits and the misses. I love the critics and the champions – those who point to the massive fails and who highlight the reasons that “fill in the blank” was the best ad this time around.

What was the best ad? Chevy, Snickers, LikeAGirl, McDonald’s? Or the popular Budweiser’s Lost Dog? I bet if I asked 10 people their top five best ads, I wouldn’t get two alike.

My thoughts? I can’t even choose a top 10. Why? Because I love the strategy behind every single one of them – the hits and the misses. The planner and critic in me simply would like to know: Did this ad deliver against the creative brief? Did it reach its target audience? Did it achieve its intended objective? What did the brand have as a measurement of success? Did it work?

One of the biggest challenges in marketing and advertising is defining success. It may seem straightforward with an obvious answer (i.e., increasing product sales), but often you are dealing with multiple stakeholders with numerous ideas for what success looks like. If you do not establish realistic expectations in the beginning for defining “success,” you will not be able to answer the ultimate question – did it work?

Everyone “oohs” and “ahhs” at the creativity in the TV spot, but after the smoke clears and, in some cases, the tears dry up, do we check back to see if the ads actually worked? Here are the steps we value in the planning process to measure success.

  1. Focus on the objective. If increased awareness is your goal, then the change of awareness is the only legitimate measure of success. In a classic study of advertising objectives, it was found that claims of success for advertising were unrelated to the original statements of objective in 69 percent of the cases. In the research, companies stated increases in sales as proof of success when the original objectives were related to factors such as awareness, connection to a brand, or product-use information.
  2. Establish benchmarks. Objectives for a campaign should be measured within the context of quantifiable proof. You must know where you begin with a baseline of understanding (current status of market share, awareness, audience perceptions/attitude) to assess if your work has moved the needle. Linking measurement criteria to objectives provides you with a basis for evaluation and a guideline for future decisions.
  3. Make a plan to evaluate success. At the end of a campaign, all marketers want to know the same thing – was it successful? To understand if a campaign was effective, there are a number of things to evaluate, including the quantitative and qualitative feedback. Some things are easy to measure (reach, frequency, click-through rate, website visits, phone inquiries, etc.), and some are more difficult (brand awareness, intention, loyalty). If you have defined your objective at the start and have identified “what means success,” it is just a matter of making sure you have set a plan to track the key metrics.

At Güd Marketing we take these early steps in the planning process to drive our clients’ business forward. As a planner, I am inspired by the transformation of business goals to insights that motivate decisions or drive behavior change because, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?