How brands are measuring Super Bowl ad success

An estimated 123.7 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on February 11, making the event the most-watched single-network telecast of all time, per Nielsen. That’s good news for CBS and the football industry — and advertisers as well.

Super Bowl commercials are costly. A 30-second ad this year, according to sources, totaled $7 million. Still, many brands decided to make the investment, using the opportunity to reach new audiences or tease new products.

Many years ago, brands’ Super Bowl efforts revolved around TV. Now, with audiences interacting with Super Bowl content on various channels — linear TV, digital websites, Instagram and TikTok among them — brands are drawing out the length of their Super Bowl campaigns and repurposing the content long after the ads have aired. They see these ads as investments in building brand awareness over time, a long-term bet for bigger market share.

At the same time, brands are methodically tracking parts of their campaigns to see the direct impact on their businesses and provide reassurance to investors. With so many ways for consumers to view and respond to content, brands are using a wide range of KPIs to judge the success of their Super Bowl ads.

Here’s what three brands who ran their first Super Bowl ads in 2024 — Vuori, Salomon and Nerds — took into account.

Vuori

  • Ad title on YouTube: “A New Perspective on Performance Apparel”
  • Super Bowl ad length: 30 seconds
  • Ad’s main KPIs: Web traffic and brand awareness

Athleisure brand Vuori turned around its Super Bowl spot in less than a month, founder Joe Kudla told Modern Retail. The brand, which is in the midst of opening 20 to 25 new stores a year, had run TV ads for years. It sees TV as a valuable marketing tool and was in a “really good place to say yes” to an ad, Kudla said.

Vuori’s ad shows people running and exercising on the beach and in the mountains, all while wearing Vuori apparel. While Vuori’s past ads have been more product-driven, its Super Bowl ad was “a visual reinforcement that we are in fact inspired by this active aspirational coastal California lifestyle that we live every day,” Kudla said.

One of Vuori’s main KPIs for the campaign was traffic to its website. Indeed, it saw a spike in visitors on the day of the Super Bowl, Kudla confirmed. But, Vuori also paid attention to word-of-mouth.

“Anecdotally, the amount of outreach that we received about this spot far surpassed any advertising or marketing moment that we’ve had as a brand since our inception,” Kudla said. “Just the amount of customers that reached out, we know that it did its job and made a big impact.”

To reach even more people, Vuori continued running the ad on its social channels in the days after the Super Bowl. “It’s important that you don’t just look at a Super Bowl advertisement as an isolated strategy,” Kudla said. “You have to think about your more holistic marketing strategy. That involves running the same spot through a variety of channels where we can retarget customers that saw the spot and responded to it.”

Salomon

  • Ad title on YouTube: “Welcome Back to Earth”
  • Super Bowl ad length: 30 seconds (larger campaign video: 90 seconds)
  • Ad’s main KPIs: Internet search, web traffic, e-commerce sales, CRM click-through and conversion, social channel engagement, wholesale partner sell-through

Salomon, a French sporting goods company that reached $1 billion in revenue in 2022, saw the Super Bowl as having “a specific role in our growth strategy, similar to other marquee moments on the calendar,” Scott Mellin, Salomon’s global chief brand officer, told Modern Retail.

Having already run TV ads in Europe, Salomon was eager to increase its TV presence in other countries, too. In fact, February marked the first time Salomon ran TV ads in the U.S. and China, the latter of which aired during the NBA All-Star game. “You could say that TV was a big change in our marketing mix this year already,” Mellin said.

For the Super Bowl, Salomon partnered with the agency DDB Paris on its ad, which it hoped could reach people who weren’t familiar with the brand, Mellin said. “There is no bigger place, especially in the U.S., to reach a large audience of captive consumers than the Super Bowl,” he added.

The ad, which shows a runner escaping the hustle of the city for the serenity of the mountains, represents a new approach for Salomon. In the past, its ads have been dramatic, featuring athletes doing intensive sports against epic backdrops. The new ad has a “more emotional feeling,” Mellin said, and connects with anyone looking to get outside. “We are a mountain sports brand, so moving in nature is at the core of what Salomon is, who our athletes are and what we want to encourage in our consumers,” he explained.

Salomon measured the success of its ad in a variety of ways, Mellin said, including web traffic and e-commerce sales. “We will certainly conduct brand awareness studies at a later date to measure uplift,” he added. While Mellin could not disclose exact figures, he said feedback has been “extremely positive” since Salomon launched the campaign in February. Salomon’s parent company, Amer Sports, recently went public at a valuation of $6.5 billion.

Salomon plans to roll out five more iterations of its “Welcome Back to Earth” campaign, Mellin said. The first focused on running and the North American market. The second, which debuts this month, will focus on Paris and New York.

Nerds

  • Ad title on YouTube: “Big Game Commercial ft. Addison Rae”
  • Super Bowl ad length: 30 seconds
  • Ad’s main KPIs: Brand awareness, household penetration, sales

Nerds centered its first-ever Super Bowl ad on its popular Gummy Clusters candy, which now makes up more than 80% of Nerds’ sales. The ad is part of a larger omnichannel campaign that Nerds began at the end of last year, Joey Rath, Nerds’ marketing director, told Modern Retail. “It’s a huge launching point for a new creative strategy,” she said.

Nerds considers TV “a huge reach-driver” for the brand, Rath said. This year, it was eager to bring other channels into the mix. “Our consumer audience is primarily Gen Z, some Millennial, so I’d say we are more focused on digital channels where we can be even further targeted and more hyper-relevant,” she explained.

Nerds looked at many factors in judging the success of the Gummy Clusters campaign. “We are looking at the immediate sales impact, both in the month following Super Bowl, but even more longer-term, because our overarching marketing objective is to increase household penetration,” she said. “And we know that takes time.” Nerds’ household penetration currently stands at 17%, meaning that 83% of households do not buy Nerds.

Nerds is also targeting “creative performance indicators,” Rath said, and is working to isolate the impact of the 30-second ad specifically. “Across the many different tactics that we executed, we do have more diagnostic measures to understand, ‘Okay, what did we deliver? How did it perform? How do we optimize for next time?’” she said. “We do expect to continue to invest in the brand with continued advertising through the balance of 2024.”

Already, some campaign numbers are in for January 3 to February 11. According to Ibotta, which works with thousands of brands on cash-back rewards, Nerds saw a 49.38% increase in purchase share versus competitors during that time. There was also an 8.33% increase in units purchased per customer, and the time it took for a consumer who made a Nerds purchase to make another Nerds purchase decreased by nearly 60%.

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