We Know Which Super Bowl Ads Got Buzz, But Which Ones Did People Actually Watch?

By Rob Salkowitz

Originally published in Forbes

After last night's potboiler of a Super Bowl, there's been plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking about both the game and the hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of commercial spots that ran during the 3.5 hour broadcast. Which spots reached their audience, which ones got people talking, and which ones played to empty rooms?

Overnight, LucasFilm's teaser for its upcoming "Solo: A Star Wars Story" kept fans buzzing and tallied more than 3.17 million earned views on YouTube, toppling PepsiCo's Doritos vs. Dew spot from the top ranking, while Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War" and Universal's "Jurassic World" previews moved past Amazon's "Alexa Loses Her Voice" spot to round out the top 5 on the iSpot.TV leaderboard. Meanwhile, Dodge Ram's off-key Martin Luther King, Jr. spot left commentators wondering why the company would draw from a speech that mocked commercial culture and auto ads in particular, and why would the managers of King's estate permit the use of his words in this context?

This morning we got richer data on the effectiveness of the ads. A Boston-based startup called TVision Insights has developed technology that measures actual eyes on-screen, second by second, as ads run in private homes, using a demographically representative opt-in panel of viewers across the US. Combined with social measurements provided by iSpot.tv, Shareablee, Amobee and others, this helps fill in the picture with insights that advertisers, marketers and media planners can use to develop and target spots that truly engage and interest us.

TVision's ranking system uses a score of 100 as a baseline, so numbers higher than 100 represent better than average performance. Here are the top 10 spots that got attention from viewers in the moment when they aired last night during the game. Note how different this list is from the spots that resonated most on social media or in earned media views online.
  1. Bud Light - Bud Knight - 130.8
  2. E*Trade - This is Getting Old - 123.6
  3. Mountain Dew/Doritos - Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice - 116.9
  4. Mission: Impossible - Fallout -  Mission: Impossible - Fallout - 114.2
  5. Avocados from Mexico - #GuacWorld - 113.7
  6. NFL - Touchdown Celebration - 112.4
  7. M&Ms - Human - 112.1
  8. Tide - It's a Tide Ad -  111.1
  9. Netflix: The Cloverfield Paradox   - The Cloverfield Paradox - 110.9
  10. Amazon - Alexa Loses Her voice - 110.7

TVision also tracks a metric called the Smile Index, using data the observes the facial expressions of its opt-in panel to identify positive emotional responses. So which ads lit up the room? According to the data, it was...

  1. Bud Light -  120.2 on the Smile Index
  2. Avocados from Mexico -  118.8
  3. M&Ms -  117.8
  4. Netflix - Cloverfield - 117.2
  5. E*Trade - 115.2
TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report