Seconds Prove the Difference for 2017 Super Bowl Ads

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Results from Dialsmith and masklansky + partners viewer polling on the Super Bowl ads suggest that every six-figure-costing second counts

The (Super Bowl) ads with politically charged themes made news but didn’t engage our viewers.

Brands and advertisers spent an average of $5 million to capture viewers’ attention for 30 seconds during yesterday’s Super Bowl. That’s an investment of $166,667 per second. And the research, based on polling just concluded by Dialsmith and maslansky + partners (m + p) suggests that not only does each second of airtime come with a six-figure price tag, each second also can prove to be the difference between a winning ad and a losing ad.

The polling, powered by Dialsmith’s Slidermetrix, went beyond the typical “thumbs up – thumbs down” or single score ratings done by most methods of scoring the Super Bowl ads. With Slidermetrix, viewers continuously rate the ads second-by-second as they watch, revealing what viewers were thinking in-the-moment and allowing for a deeper look into the magic moments that elicit an emotional response which ultimately can make an ad memorable or not.

Key takeaways from this year’s polling are:

Automakers are doing it right. Our top four scoring ads were all auto ads with Hyundai’s “A Better Super Bowl,” Mercedes Benz’s “Easy Driver,” Buick’s “Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr” and Kia’s “Hero’s Journey” spots receiving our highest marks.

Just the ads please, hold the politics. Ads with politically charged themes made news but didn’t engage our viewers. In particular, 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins” ad fell flat as one of our lowest rated spots amongst older viewers, though the ad scored much higher with Millennials.

The Bieber bomb. Several stars shined bright but not The Bieber. Ads that deftly weaved humor with star power were hits with our viewers. Peter Fonda (Mercedes), Melissa McCarthy (Kia) and Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken (Bai) all received high grades. Whether it was the joke that fell flat or Bieber’s appeal, the T-Mobile ad missed the mark.

Risk was rewarded. Going live is risky, but it’s also authentic and our viewers liked it. Both Hyundai’s and Snicker’s ads, shot during the Big Game, scored well with our viewers.

Super- and Not-So-Super Seconds tell their own story. Hyundai’s spot produced our highest scoring second across all Super Bowl ads and one of the highest peak moments ever since we began testing five years ago. The moment captured a live, virtual reunion of US Army Corporal Trista Strauch, stationed in Zagan, Poland, with her family who were in attendance at the Super Bowl. The moment had a genuine, emotional tug-at-the-heartstrings appeal that won over our viewers.

In contrast, 84 Lumber’s spot produced our lowest scoring second across all ads. Scores trended downward from start to finish as the weighty story, depicting a Mexican mother and daughter unfolded, bottoming out as the ad concluded without a “feel good” ending or any conclusion to speak of. Viewers reacted negatively to the sharp tone and weren’t too keen on having to go online to view the rest of the story.

“Kia was Super Bowl ad perfection and we gave it an A. It tied into the product and it was funny,” said m+p president and partner Lee Carter, “Viewers reflected that Super Bowl and politics don’t mix. Depending on your political perspective you could have seen ads like 84 Lumber and Anheuser-Busch as political – we gave them a D and B, respectively. Bottom line, the more political, the more polarizing - 84 Lumber was an overtly political ad and Anheuser-Busch’s ad could have been interpreted as the American Dream.”

For highlights of final scores and results, please see accompanying infographic or you can download the full report at:

How it works
Using Slidermetrix, viewers are asked to continuously rate the ad while viewing it, using an on-screen slider with a scale from 0 (“Hate It!”) to 100 (“Love It!”). After rating the ad, viewers can see how their feedback compares to other viewers. This continuous rating method is similar to the moment-to-moment dial testing that market research consultants do for their media clients who use the data for placement and programming decisions as well as for content direction, including decisions by advertisers on the content for ads that air during the Super Bowl.

About Dialsmith
Dialsmith is a Portland, Oregon-based technology company that develops products and services for research, audience engagement and live event polling. Pioneers in the development of audience response tools for capturing and displaying continuous and in-the-moment feedback, Dialsmith is the worldwide marketer, seller and service provider for Perception Analyzer, Perception Analyzer Online, Slidermetrix and ISX Scoring. Featured on CNN, Fox News, 60 Minutes, Food Network, X Games and more, Dialsmith’s Perception Analyzer tools are the gold standard for dial testing focus groups, public opinion studies, academic research, mock juries and more.

About m+p
Brands and companies are faced with communications challenges that are complex and controversial. And the marketplace is crowded. To address these challenges, maslansky+partners has worked for the past 20+ years to perfect and refine its strategic counsel through cognitive behavioral science research. The strategic agency works with companies to help them translate corporate speak into language that is clear, credible and compelling for consumers and stakeholders. m+p helps clients understand how their audiences process and interpret information and show them how the right words and phrases can drive engagement and action. m+p has worked with many Fortune 500 companies, most of the top retail banks in the US, along with companies like AARP, Starbucks, Merck, Toyota and Pfizer (to name a few) – and because they work within a mix of industries their clients benefit from the agency’s breadth of experience.

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Brian Izenson
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