Which Ads Won (& Lost) at the Superbowl

To say football is a big deal in America is something of a huge understatement. Likewise, the Superbowl isn’t just a championship game, it’s practically a national holiday.

Which is why with every passing year, Superbowl festivities are increasingly outrageous. Nowadays, people who wouldn’t normally watch the game are tuning in for the entertainment factor. And we’re not just talking about the wildly popular halftime show, we mean the commercials running during the game – which are arguably more entertaining than the game itself.

With good reason. You get what you pay for, and advertisers are paying exorbitant sums for those few seconds of airspace.  According to the New York Times, a 30 second spot during the superbowl is costing advertisers upwards of $3.7M – with some spots surpassing $4 million. That’s 7,500 a second. In this case, time really is money.

We used SimilarWeb to take a look at which advertisers got their money’s worth in terms of site traffic during the Superbowl, and which failed to score a traffic touchdown.


Touchdown! Successful Ads for a Massive Boost in Site Traffic

All of the advertisers that saw a dramatic change in site traffic following the Superbowl were represented amongst a few main categories, the most prevalent being Food & Drink, Health, Business, and Internet & Telecom.

Take a look at the biggest winners from the Superbowl – those advertisers which saw a massive traffic spike following the broadcast of their very expensive commercials during halftime:

SPbowl Winners


Carnival Cruise Lines was clearly the big winner of site traffic.  Compared to a week before the superbowl, the leisure cruise site saw a whopping 1659% increase in website traffic.

caarnival cruise site traffic


This could say something about the ad they chose to air – rather than focus on a cruise or vacation package, Carnival’s 30-second spot highlighted the ocean itself, with President John F. Kennedy’s speech on humankind’s connection to the sea playing in the background. The result was a riveting departure from their usual ad fare, and it proved enormously effective.


Avocados from Mexico also saw a huge spike in traffic, with 852% increase from last week. The rapidly growing produce company imports (you guessed it) avocados from Mexico.


avocados from mexico site traffic


Whether it was their humorous NFL-themed spot “the first draft ever” or the fact that guacamole is a popular dip for football fans at halftime parties – or a combination of the two – this ad generated interest in the company and helped give site traffic a big boost.


Consumer goods company Procter and Gamble and  jeweler Michael Hill also saw huge boosts in site traffic, with both companies broadcasting appealing spots that tugged at the heartstrings. Other site traffic winners included Dove, Pepsi, Mophie, and super glue manufacturer Loctite.

Then there was Jublia, the anti-fungal cream. Perhaps the company’s website saw a traffic spike more out of product demand than the ad itself, which lacked the pizazz of the other successful super bowl commercials.

Nationwide insurance, on the other hand, went in for fear – their controversial 48-second spot on preventing childhood death may have prompted a spike site traffic, but public reaction wasn’t very positive. Many viewers thought the ad was too “morbid and depressing.”


The insurer claimed the purpose wasn’t to sell insurance, but to bring awareness to childhood safety. Nationwide also stated that after the commercial aired thousands of people visited the website Makesafehappen.com, an offshoot site devoted to making homes safer. And it worked – before the Superbowl, traffic to Makesafehappen.com was virtually non-existent. After the ad aired, the website saw a huge boost in traffic – to over 54,000 visits in just one day.



Busted Play: After Ads Site Traffic Decreases

The following brands weren’t as successful in terms of site traffic from their ads in the Superbowl, as all of the websites on this list actually saw a decrease in site traffic.

superbowl losing sites


Go Daddy was forced to air a different commercial after their original ad was banned. The negative publicity might have hurt the brand, which could explain the 21% traffic decrease. Carl’s Jr. aired a characteristically racy ad which also didn’t do much for their website, as the fast food chain’s website saw a 20% decrease in site traffic. It’s important to note, however, that the commercial only aired in places where Carl’s Jr. franchises are located, which is primarily the Southwestern United States.


Despite featuring football legend Pete Rose, the Skechers commercial failed to drive traffic to the shoe retailer’s site. Perhaps it was the fact that the acting in the commercial seemed stiff, or maybe nobody really liked Skechers Relaxed Fit shoes. Whatever the reason, Skechers.com saw a 17% decrease in site traffic.

No explanation as to why Snickers – with their humorous Brady Bunch and movie star mash up – ended up seeing the biggest decrease in site traffic. Perhaps in this year of “Serious super bowl ads,” the theme just didn’t fit.


Game Conclusion: What it Means for the “Players”

The sites that received the most website traffic from the Superbowl were from a variety of industries, with a mix of well established brands (like Carnival and Procter and Gamble) as well as lesser-known companies including Mophie and Loctite. It’s possible that the less well-known companies cultivated interest in their brands because of their creative Superbowl ads, which could explain the sudden increase in traffic.

The advertisers that saw the biggest decrease in site traffic following the Superbowl were all big names in their respective industries, from Snickers to Sprint. The majority of these advertisers were from the Food & Drink and Internet & Telecom industries, but we don’t think there’s a real connection here in terms of industry type.

The good news for the “losing” ads is that by and large it doesn’t seem to matter if site traffic saw a decrease. These are strong brands that are well established within their respective industries, and consumers will continue to buy their products regardless of the success (or lack thereof) of their superbowl ads.

The main point of these costly commercials was to reach millions of viewers in a matter of seconds during some pretty lucrative air time. Some ads may have been more effective than others at creating consumer interest, but overall the brands that didn’t fare as well will likely have another chance to captivate audiences at the next Superbowl – and hopefully next time they’ll emerge victorious.

About the Author -

Lauren Meir is a writer and the Creative Content Manager at SimilarWeb. Her expertise lies in content marketing and creative branding. She has experience writing for a variety of industries including the art world and online gaming, and her work has appeared in publications such as the Huffington Post, Provokator and the Detroit Jewish News.

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