The Best Super Bowl Ads for Audience Attention 2018 - 2020

Colin Pye
Colin Pye
January 30 31 min read

All eyes are on the Super Bowl. The biggest network TV event of the year claimed 102 million viewers in 2020 at a cost of $5.6 million per 30-seconnd spot. But are advertisers creating ads that engage with viewers and connect with them on an emotional level?

Realeyes set out to understand trends in Super Bowl advertising over the last three years by testing 192 ads that aired during the big game in 2018, 2019, and 2020. All ads were tested with our PreView system, which measures the ability of an ad to capture and retain viewer attention and encode an emotional response.

Super Bowl LV will be occurring in a vastly different environment than previous years. Viewers have been through an emotional roller coaster over the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic and a hotly contested election.

Overall our study found a decline quality and encoding scores over the last three years, which may be indicative of emotional fatigue in an increasingly divided nation. After a rocky January, in 2021all bets are off as to the ability of advertisers to capture viewer attention and connect with them on an emotional level. Stay tuned for our Super Bowl LV Recap after the game.

Sper Bowl Reports

Data Highlights from 2018-2020

Average Quality scores for Super Bowl ads were 25% lower in 2020 compared to 2018. Encoding scores were 28% lower in 2020 compared to 2018. Viewers were slightly more distractable in 2020 compared to 2020: average capture scores dropped by 8% in 2020 compared to 2018.

When looking at Quality Scores across categories, the beverage category had the highest average quality scores in 2018 and 2020. A Bud Light ad appeared in the Top 10 all three years.

Ad length was not a significant factor in ad ad’s ability to garner a high Quality Score; top-performing ads were seen across 15, 30, and 60 and even longer ads in all years.

Chart: Average Quality Score

 

Overall Average Scores by Year 2018 2019 2020
Quality Score (0-10) 5.5 4.6 4.1
Capture: Avg First Distraction (second) 4.5 4.7 4.2
Retain: Audience Retention by Second 15 22% 16% 19%
Encode (0-100) 76.2 60.3 54.7

 

Average Quality Score by Category 2018 2019 2020
Automotive 5.0 3.7 3.3
Beverages 6.0 4.8 4.6
Food and confectionery 5.8 5.0 4.4
Telecom, internet services and ISP 5.7 3.8 3.8

 

Average Quality Score by Duration 2018 2019 2020
15 seconds or less 5.3 5.5 4.0
30 seconds 5.5 4.6 4.2
60 seconds 5.5 4.3 4.1

Persil - Game Time Stain Time

Super Bowl 2018 - LII

  Brand Creative Sec   Quality Score Capture Retain Encode
1 Persil Game Time Stain Time 30    8 5.54 37% 80
2 Turbotax The Noise in the Attic 30   8 5.79 28% 69
3 Doritos DORITOS BLAZE vs. MTN DEW ICE - ft. Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman 60   8 5.59 23% 99
4 NFL Network Touchdown Celebrations to Come 60   8 5.51 25% 99
5 Amazon Alexa  Alexa Loses Her Voice 90   8 5.86 29% 97
6 Skittles Skittles Teasers 2018 - Video 3 15   7 5.37 22% 99
7 E-Trade This Is Getting Old 30   7 5.05 21% 99
8 Universal Parks  Vacation Quarterback 60   7 5.64 24% 75
9 Michelob Ultra

I Like Beer 630   7 5.05 25% 75
10 Bud Light Ye Olde Pep Talk 30   7 5.37 27% 70

 

Bud-Light - Trojan Horse Occupants

Super Bowl 2019 - LIII

  Brand Creative Sec   Quality Score Capture Retain Encode
1 Bud Light Trojan Horse Occupants 15   8 7.51 34% 53
2 M&Ms Bad Passengers ft. Christina Applegate  30   8 7.50 23% 99
3 Bumble The Ball is in Your Court ft. Serena Williams 30   8 6.55 22% 92
4 Microsoft We All Win 60   8 6.75 28% 80
5 NFL The 100 Year Game  120   8 4.65 30% 94
6 Colgate Total SF - So Close 30   7 7.23 16% 89
7 Wix.com Karlie Kloss 30   7 6.33 30% 32
8 Persil Deepest Stains 15   6 5.72 29% 13
9 Dietz & Watson

Craig Robinson Likes Dietz Nuts 30   6 4.53 21% 96
10 Olay Killer Skin 30   6 5.27 8% 95

 

Universal Pictures - A Quiet Place Part II

Super Bowl 2020 - LIV

  Brand Creative Sec   Quality Score Capture Retain Encode
1 Paramount Pictures A Quiet Place Part II  30   9 6.07 25% 93
2 Mountain Dew Zero Sugar - As Good As The Original 30   7 5.30 21% 97
3 McDonald's Famous Orders 30   7 5.54 23% 91
4 Fast & Furious Fat & Furious (Trailer) 30   7 4.86 18% 82
5 T-Mobile Anthony Anderson's Mama Tests T-Mobile's 5G Network 60   7 4.65 26% 87
6 Bud Light Seltzer - Post Malone 60   7 5.86 22% 69
7 Discover No We Don;t Charge Annual Fees 15   6 4.86 23% 80
8 Minions The Rise of Gru (Trailer) 30   6 4.27 18% 94
9 Hint Water

CPie Eating Contest 30   6 4.53 24% 84
10 Snickers Fix the World 30   6 5.05 25% 56

 


Definitions
Quality Score
Realeyes composite score indicating how strong a video asset is at capturing attention. It is determined according to the following three key indicators.

Capture: The seconds that viewers are attentive from the start of the video, until the first distraction. 

Retain: The percent of the audience likely to stay attentive to the video for up to 15 seconds of viewing.

Encode: The strength of the video to generate high engagement, including attentiveness and emotional peaks relative to the video's category benchmark. Higher Attention Potential indicates viewers are more likely to report being interested in the video.

PreView Report iPad

Methodology
Realeyes measures naturally occurring human response using front-facing cameras as opt-in viewers watch the ads from their PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. Each Super Bowl study included an average of 70 videos, over 200 participant viewers per video, with a total of c.2,500 views.

The Quality Score used in this study is part of Realeyes' PreView product, a content intelligence tool for predicting and managing attention in advertising. PreView allows advertisers to reduce media waste by predicting and eliminating low-performing video creative and boosting strong attentive creative. PreView has achieved up to 30% performance gains and 9X return of investment based on an ROI model involving 51 actual consumer goods ads

Super Bowl Ad Tracker

From the teasers through to the last ad of the game, each spot released is rated by its performance to Capture, Retain and Encode audience attention using Realeyes PreView.

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