During last night's Super Bowl, whether Nissan's #WithDad commercial tugged at your heartstrings or Procter & Gamble's #LikeaGirl ad left you feeling inspired, the bigger question becomes, what return will these companies see long after the Monday morning quarterbacking over best and worst Super Bowl commercials ends?
Each year companies spend staggering amounts of money for a 30-second Super Bowl spot. This year's advertisers shelled out $4.5 million just for air time. At that price point, it seems nearly impossible for an advertiser to see a return on that investment.
In fact, New Stanford research suggests that Super Bowl ads aren't always effective. Researchers claim that while Super Bowl ads can spur large increases in revenue and volume per household, the brands that win build an association between the brand and viewership of sports.
So because consumption of beer and snacks is associated with watching sports, Anheuser-Busch typically wins big from Super Bowl commercials, proving that advertising plays a role in this relationship. The company earns an extra $96 million from their Budweiser ads, receiving a 172 percent ROI.
But how do brands that don't have the direct association between sports watching and their products measure ROI from commercials? Through engagement and consumers' perceptions via social media. And I'm not talking about measuring the number of Tweets and Facebook likes, for that's not a true measure of engagement.
Remember Volkswagen's 2011 Darth Vadar ad? Today, "The Force" has 61 million views on YouTube and is still the most shared Super Bowl ad of all-time and the second most shared TV commercial ever. The ad's success can be pinpointed to its ability to elicit shared passions for Star Wars with the viewers, as well as evoke feelings of joy.
Last year's newcomer WeatherTech demonstrated the value of its products with its spot, "You Can't Do That," which focused on the naysayers who questioned WeatherTech's made-in-America business plan. David MacNeil, founder and CEO of WeatherTech, last month said in a statement: "We witnessed an increase in phone and Internet traffic that helped continue our double digit sales growth."
So if you're looking to score big in your marketing and advertising this year, don't forget some key elements gleaned from the Super Bowl: Use emotional engagement, tell a great story, and demonstrate the value of the product you're selling.