Do Super Bowl Ads Drive Store Visits?

By Anna Livaccari / 5 minutes

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Super Bowl ads can be memorable, go viral, win awards — and for some, are more important than the actual game. Whether you work in marketing or on Wall Street, Super Bowl ads are fun to watch and actually drive non-football fans to, well… watch football.

Nielsen data showed that the 2018 Super Bowl averaged 103.4MM viewers, ranking it in the top 10 most watched American television programs of all time. But how many people are tuning in for just the ads? According to Prosper Insights and Analytics, 17.7% of adults say that advertisements are the most important part of the Super Bowl. So not only is around one third of the country watching the game, but a good portion of those viewers are most excited for the ads.

The Super Bowl represents a great opportunity for advertisers because it’s a rare moment when TV viewers not only want to see ads but are actually tuning in just for them. The impact lasts even after the game, with viewers talking about memorable ads in the news and on social media. Some past Super Bowl ads have even entrenched themselves firmly in our pop-culture — remember the Budweiser frogs?. But even with this type of impact, are the ads effective in terms of ROI?

A Stanford Study in 2015 showed that Super Bowl ads can be very effective in terms of driving market share and sales — but that’s not always the case. At Cuebiq, we were interested in seeing if there was a connection between Super Bowl ads and footfall (or visits).

We didn’t measure any ads in last year’s Super Bowl, but we used our industry-leading Analytics tool to measure overall footfall trends for auto, QSR, and telco brands. We looked at footfall trends 21 days before and 21 days after the big game to see if there was any uplift in terms of visits. What we found was pretty interesting… take a look for yourself.

Auto Brands With Super Bowl Ads

Auto ads during the Super Bowl are entertaining and can make you want to go out and buy or lease a brand new car. However, we found that in 2018 there was actually a decrease in footfall among the auto brands that ran an ad, even recognizing that the automotive industry has a longer sales cycle than other industries. We found it interesting that the automotive brands that ran Super Bowl ads in 2018 saw a decrease in visitation.

More specifically, out of Lexus, Jeep, Hyundai, Toyota, Dodge, and Kia — Lexus, which aired a Black Panther ad, saw the largest decrease in footfall in the group, of 4.5%.

Followed by:

  • Hyundai (-1.5%)
  • Kia (-1.1%)
  • Jeep (-0.86%)
  • Dodge (-0.75%)
  • Toyota (-0.69%)

For a look at overall footfall trends for the time period, see below.

2018 Footfall Trends Super Bowl 1

QSR Brands With Super Bowl Ads

While viewers love food commercials (I know I do), there was not an immediate and massive surge in footfall traffic to brick-and-mortar QSR locations after their Super Bowl ads ran. Between Wendy’s and Jack in the Box, Wendy’s had an uplift in footfall traffic of 3.3% following the airing of its Super Bowl ad, while Jack in the Box saw a 0.5% uplift. See below for a look at overall footfall trends for the time period.


Telco Brands With Super Bowl Ads

Despite all the buzz around telco Super Bowl ads, similar to auto and QSR ads, there was not an immediate nor  huge surge to a telco brand’s brick-and-mortar locations after their Super Bowl ad. Between Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, Sprint had the highest footfall uplift after the Super Bowl with 5.2%. T-Mobile followed at 4.1% and Verizon at 3.9%. See below for a look at overall footfall trends for the time period.

Why Measuring ROI Matters

While the Super Bowl advertisers we looked at didn’t see see major uplifts in terms of visits after their ads ran, it doesn’t mean that their ads weren’t successful. We were only looking at overall footfall trends; however, because Super Bowl ads require a heavy investment, it make sense for advertisers to measure ROI. With this year’s big game on Sunday, it will be fun to see which advertisers are coming back, which are taking a year off, or which new advertisers will appear this year. Either way, we at Cuebiq will be watching and voting on our favorite commercials. Tune in to the Cuebiq blog in February to see our 2019 analysis of footfall trends for this year’s Super Bowl advertisers! If you have any questions or want to learn more, contact us for help!

About the Author

Anna Livaccari, Growth Marketing Manager

Anna is a Boston College grad, loves being outdoors, and is a huge foodie.