Super Bowl 51 Commercials

As I did last year, I paid attention to the commercials on the first Sunday night in February. Others may be aware of this tradition as well. Lots of new commercials frequently interrupted by a football game. Ok, it was fun to watch the game as well. This year had a lot of history (first overtime, largest deficit overcome to win and so forth). As I did last year, I focused on the commercials. Of course, this is completely unscientific, but it does show some trends. If anyone is interested, these number are for commercials during the game itself only (from 5:30 CT to the last play). This is the same span I used last year.

This year, I counted 146 separate commercials. Last year was 115. Longer game, but there also seemed to be more throughout the regular game. Which displayed a social media hashtag? Which included a web link? Which were local to the Peoria area and more. For comparative purposes, I also provide the numbers from Super Bowl 50. Note that I did not focus on the content of the commercials specifically. I leave that to others. I will note that it was quite obvious that a number of commercials did focus on immigration this year.

Let’s examine the raw numbers:

  • Total commercials 146 (last year 115)
  • Of the 146 commercials, 30 used a social media hashtag (20%). Last year, 25 had a social media hashtag (22%).
  • Of the 146 commercials, 22 displayed a web page address (URL) (15%). Last year, 53 displayed a link (46%).
  • Of the 146 commercials, 3 mentioned a mobile app (2%). Last year, 9 mentioned a mobile app (8%).
  • Of the 146 commercials, 4 were actual dot com companies (3%). Last year, 11 such companies (10%). For example,
  • Of the 146 commercials, 12 were from companies in the Peoria area (8%). Last year, 15 Peoria area companies (13%).
  • Of the 12 commercials from companies in the Peoria area, 8 displayed a web page address (67%). Last year, it was 14 out of 15 (93%).
  • Of the 12 commercials from companies in the Peoria area, 0 displayed a social media hashtag (0%). And, last year, 0% as well.

What might all this mean?

As I surmised last year, many national companies (such as Ford), don’t need to promote their website. is pretty obvious. Obviously, lesser known companies (such as those in the Peoria area) need to promote their sites. Curiously, I did not see a single company use a Facebook page (last year there was only one). Although many ads also included social media symbols, they did not specifically indicate the link to their social media. I do realize that many have “smart” TVs these days (myself included). However, the thought of clicking on the Twitter symbol during the ad never entered my mind.

Social media is definitely something many companies still promote. Both last year and this year, roughly 20% of commercials had a social media hashtag. Of course, most companies in the Peoria area do not seem aware of this social media “fad.” Ok, just being a bit snarky, but not a single company in either year? Really?

Mobile app commercials were definitely down this year (only 3). Perhaps the luster has worn off those?

Another insight is that many companies may now rely more on search engines for those looking for additional information. This would preclude the need for a link. That being said, the opportunity for a custom link (just for this event) and the ability to track visitors for that link seems to be overlooked. Yes, there are many “big data” metrics that one can employ, but having a specific custom link can still provide more details.

I do question why so few took advantage of including a link or a social media hashtag this year. These seem like lost opportunities. It was a “captive audience.” Why not leverage as many channels as possible?

These are just initial observations. What insights did you gain from watching the commercials? I look forward to your comments.

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