While the ads are the focus of media attention post-game, the big winners were the less talked about, more impactful brand experiences.
On the biggest (and most expensive) advertising day of the year, brand experiences outperformed traditional advertising on five of five brand KPIs.
American consumers prefer brand experiences over traditional ads by a wide margin on a range of important dimensions. If brand experiences are not part of your marketing mix, they should be. Those are the headline findings and conclusions from the Brand Experience Barometer, recently released by Reach3 and The Keller Advisory Group.
To put these findings to the test, we conducted another study around the biggest advertising event of the year, the Super Bowl. Our goal was to determine which would perform better in improving brand perceptions, Super Bowl ads or brand experiences tied to the Super Bowl.
We gathered a list of 20 brands with activations (either brand experiences or ads) on and around the Super Bowl. Just after the Super Bowl, we invited consumers to participate in a study in which they rated these brands on several attribute associations.
We compared brand attribute associations between people who were aware versus not aware of each brand’s Super Bowl ad or experience to determine the ‘lift’ each provides to brands (if any) across our key brand dimensions:
- an exciting brand
- a brand worth talking about
- a brand to which people feel emotional connection
- a unique brand
- a relevant brand
In all cases, people who were aware of experiences and people who were aware of the ads were more likely to rate the brand higher on our attribute dimensions. In that regard, both experiences and ads achieved impact.
But the question remained… for which was the lift the greatest – experiences or ads?
The results were crystal clear. On all five dimensions, the lift from Super Bowl brand experiences beat the Super Bowl ads!
The Brand Experience Advantage: Excitement, Relevance, and Shareability Lead the Way
The biggest lift advantages for experiences over ads are with regard to the perception that a brand is exciting, relevant, and worth sharing about with others (either offline or on social media). Essentially, awareness of brands’ experiences correlates with more positive brand perception above and beyond the advantage awareness of brands’ ads provides.
For example, when it comes to associations with word of mouth or shareability, the average across the ten brand experiences studied was 39% among those aware of the brands’ experiences, versus 17% among those who were unaware – a lift of 23 pts.
A similar pattern emerges across brand attribute dimensions, but the biggest lifts experiences provide are in perceptions that a brand is exciting, worth talking about, and relevant.
But Not All Experiences are Created Equal
Though awareness of experiences seems to benefit brand perceptions, there was variation in how much lift awareness of a brand experience provides. Not all experiences are equally beneficial!
Again looking at word of mouth, we see that among those aware of TikTok’s NFL Tailgate, 60% said TikTok is a brand worth talking about, versus 24% among those unaware of the experience. Similarly, the Savage x Fenty NFL Line & Pop-up store experience saw a lift of 35 pts between those aware versus unaware. Seven of the 10 experiences measured were associated with brand shareability lifts of 20pt or more vs only two of the ads measured: The Farmers Dog (+20pt lift among those aware of the ad) and Door Dash – We Get Groceries (+20 pt lift among those aware).
What all of this tells us is that brand experiences can benefit brand perceptions, but there is a need to ensure that experiences brands invest in are optimized.
Introducing Brand Experience Predictor (BXP)
There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for advertisers to reach a massive audience and change attitudes and consumer behavior. While the ads are the focus of media attention post-game, the big winners were the less talked about, more impactful brand experiences.
What is exciting is that there is now a way for marketers to pretest their ideas for experiential brand activations before they go to market. I have been working closely with Reach3 to develop the , an innovative solution to predict the performance of experiential brand activations, not just on Super Bowl Sunday but year-round. By pre-testing experiential activations, brands can identify and invest in the ideas that are most likely to engage consumers, create buzz, and support the brand.