Super Bowl 2020: The Winners in Driving Buzz (And They Aren’t the Winners of the USA Today Ad Meter)

Bud Light Seltzer Super Bowl Ad 2020 A month ago, we declared in Marketing Dive, that USA Today’s Ad Meter — the most widely used indicator of advertising success in the big game — “doesn’t work, and it is destined to fail again next month.” We based this on an extensive analysis of Super Bowl ad study published in the peer reviewed Journal of Advertising Research. Once again this year, we see Super Bowl ads that drive the most offline and online social engagement – engagement that leads to proven business outcomes – are not the ones highly rated on the popularity charts. And similarly, the most popular ads measured by USA Today are often not achieving the highly important goal of creating the buzz that drives consumer behavior. None of the top three performers in the USA Today Ad Meter – Jeep, Hyundai and Google – managed to crack the top 30 in terms of driving offline brand advocacy. In fact, while the average Super Bowl advertiser this year saw a 49% increase in water cooler buzz after the Big Game, none of these three saw an increase at all. And online, none were in the top 10 and all were well below the advertiser average of a 110% increase in online chatter. 020-02 EL01 SUPER BOWL CHARTS-02 So, who won the battle for the water cooler buzz in 2020?  Once again it was a Budweiser brand, this time with Bud Light Seltzer.  In the USA Today Ad Meter it didn’t crack the top 10. The winner in online chatter, Coke Zero Energy, was ranked #47 by USA Today. Only Pepsi Zero Sugar ranks in the top 5 for both offline and online consumer conversations. 020-02 EL01 SUPER BOWL CHARTS-01 To see the full ranking and to learn more about TotalSocial’s unique data, insights and how it can help you evaluate the full value of your sports sponsorship and marketing ROI, please complete the briefing form.

Word-of-Mouth Predicted the “Sanders Sudden Surge” Uncovered in Weekend Polls

Word-of-Mouth Also Predicts Bloomberg’s Emergence as The Key Moderate Competitor to Biden

berniesanders Multiple polls released over the last 24 hours showed a “surprising surge” for Senator Bernie Sanders that was predicted nearly three weeks ago by word-of-mouth data from Engagement Labs. This week’s polling averages also show that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has now surpassed former Mayor Pete Buttigieg for fourth place behind Biden, Sanders and Warren, which was predicted six weeks ago by our word-of-mouth data. Commenting on these polls in its election update posted last night, in a post entitled “Sanders is on the Upswing,” wrote, “we’ve got a much clearer picture of where things stand. And one thing that’s immediately obvious is that Sanders really has gained in the polls.”

We at Engagement Labs saw this coming based on our word-of-mouth study conducted January 8 – 9, 2020.  It showed word-of-mouth rising for all candidates except for Biden, and we reported, “Biden and Sanders Neck-and-Neck, with Strong Sentiment Advantage for Sanders.”

  Our study further showed that the conventional wisdom that Biden has a rock solid support among African Americans is wrong too. “While Biden leads in the conversations of African Americans, his lead over Sanders is weaker than many observers might expect… Sanders makes a very strong showing, belying the conventional wisdom that this group – which will be front and center in South Carolina – is Biden’s fire wall.” This is all further evidence that word-of-mouth is a powerful, leading indicator in politics. Our December word of mouth study predicted the rise of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Six weeks later, this is now reflected in the FiveThirtyEight polling average (as of January 27, 2020) which shows Bloomberg has surpassed Buttigieg.
Our January word-of-mouth study has clear evidence that Bloomberg’s support will continue to grow and that he is best positioned to pick up the so-called “moderate lane” if Biden’s performance in the early primaries shows weakness.
“We’ve always believed that word-of-mouth is a leading indicator of preference, and we’re seeing that in the 2020 Democratic primary. Both in December and January, word-of-mouth was a leading indicator of movement in polls weeks later. This is a pattern we also saw in the late stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, leading Donald Trump’s victory,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs.

Word-of-Mouth Predicted Bloomberg’s Rise in Polls

bloomberg-35 Two new polls from Morning Consult and Harvard Harris have Michael Bloomberg statistically tied with Pete Buttigieg for fourth place in the fight for the Democratic Nomination nationwide. We saw this coming, when three weeks ago a TotalSocial Politics word-of-mouth study from Engagement Labs had Bloomberg in fourth place in the conversations of Democratic voters. His word-of-mouth was well ahead of his polls numbers at the time. Morning Consult has Bloomberg at 7% versus 8% for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, while Harvard Harris have them both at 7%. In mid-December, an Engagement Labs word-of-mouth study estimated that 15.5% of Democratic voters were talking about the newly announced candidate, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, ahead of the 12.7% who were talking about Buttigieg. Both candidates then trailed the word-of-mouth levels of Joseph Biden (34.2%), Bernie Sanders (27.0%), and Elizabeth Warren (21.5%). At the time of the December word-of-mouth study, Bloomberg’s word-of-mouth number was 10.6 points ahead of his polling average of 4.9%, the biggest gap for any candidate, suggesting a potential to rise in subsequent polling. “We’ve always believed that word-of-mouth is a leading indicator of preference, and we’re seeing that in the 2020 Democratic primary. Michael Bloomberg’s announcement and advertising campaign have put himself into a conversation, and that’s leading to support. This is a pattern we also saw in the late stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, leading the Donald Trump’s victory,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs.

A New Year’s Resolution for Better and More Authentic Influencer Marketing

2020 Influencer-Marketing-01 Just before Christmas, marketing guru Seth Godin took aim at the “scam” of influencer marketing via Instagram and other social media platforms in a short but widely read blog post that resonated with me as someone who has spent many years advocating for the power of influencers, dating back to my 2003 book, The Influentials. Seth focused on the statistics involved with going viral: “part of the scam is that the pyramid scheme of attention will somehow pay off for a lot of people. It won’t. It can’t. The math doesn’t hold up. Someone is going to win a lottery, but it probably won’t be us.”  I agree, because influencer marketing has morphed from a focus on the influencer “next door” to a paid Instagram celebrity. Let’s not lose sight of what influencer marketing can and should be. As the calendar turns on a new year—and a new decade—I’d like to suggest marketers adopt the following New Year’s resolution for influencer marketing:
“From this day forward, I resolve to focus on connecting with everyday influencers, rather than celebrity influencers, as they are the surest pathway to achieving word-of-mouth impact at scale.”
By “everyday” influencers, I mean the 1 in 10 consumers with large real-world social networks and an affinity for making product recommendations to friends and family. They were the subject of my 2003 book, and their power is as great if not greater today. I’ve continued to describe the opportunity of reaching everyday influencers including a 2019 world advertising industry journal article, and in tools my firm, Engagement Labs, has created for reaching these valuable consumers. Everyday influencers have 131 brand-related conversations every week versus the national average of 73. By reaching these influencers, marketers enjoy almost twice the word-of-mouth reach than average consumers provide, and the impact of their recommendations is four times as great due to their credibility and perceived expertise. Weekly Consumer Conversations in the U.S. But don’t just take my word.  Leading academics have evaluated a variety of influencer marketing methods and settled on everyday influencers as highly valuable. Focusing on the impact of influencers on new production introductions, they find the power of influencers comes in two forms: 1) by expanding the market reached by a new product and 2) by accelerating the pace of product adoption, which confers major competitive advantages over rival products. None of these effects rely on social media for success, although social platforms are among the communications tools used by everyday influencers.  Increasingly, we’re learning that social media conversations are not representative of real life. In the decade ahead, I join with Seth Godin in recommending markers avoid the pyramid scheme of celebrating social media influencers in favor of the authentic and scalable power of everyday influencers.

Holiday Shopping Conversations Favor Big Mass Merchants Over Specialty Stores

BJ’s, Lush, Reebok, and Wayfair Are Key New Players in Holiday Season Talk

xmasshopping Walmart and Amazon continue to dominate the holiday season conversations both online and offline, according to Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial® data and analytics platform. Among more than 75 measured retail brands, several—including BJ’s, Lush, Reebok, and Wayfair—are rising fast in holiday season consumer conversations, while specialty stores—including Hot Topic, Michael Kors, and Pier 1 Imports—are declining rapidly. The new holiday consumer conversation analysis is based on conversations the first two weeks of the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving week, in contrast to our recent report covering a full year and a wider set of metrics. Walmart and Amazon remain nearly tied at the very top of the list for offline conversation, while Amazon stands almost alone at the top of social media conversations, with Walmart in a solid second place. After Walmart and Amazon, the offline runners-up are Nike and Home Depot, retailers that continue to get large volumes of conversations during the holidays.  In terms of online conversation, the runners-up are Nike, eBay, and Adidas.


019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain  


019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy Ranking high on the TotalSocial list is important for brands because analytics have shown that 19% of all consumer purchases can be attributed to online and offline conversations.  Brands that are rising in terms of volume, sentiment, and other metrics are likely to see sales performance rise. Besides being among the fastest rising retail brands in terms of conversation volume, Lush cosmetics also scores among the most positive, with a net sentiment score of 91.5 on a scale of 0 to 100.  Three rising brands—BJ’s, Wayfair, and Footlocker—all get fairly average net sentiment scores, while Reebok is well below average at 19.7.


019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy 2 Among the five fastest declining brands for conversation volume, three also have poor net sentiment scores below 20, including Pier 1 Imports (16.5), Michael Kors (13.6) and Sears (2.9).  K-mart is at 31.7 and Hot Topics has strong net sentiment score of 65.6, despite the sharp decline in conversation volume.


019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy 3 “The top performing brands, and rising brands, are likely to be pleased with this year’s holiday season performance,” said Ed Keller of Engagement Labs. “It’s vital to engage consumers in conversations about your brands, because these lead to recommendations that will drive purchases.” Talkworthy advertising is one approach that is proven to drive conversation.  A newly released article in the Journal of Advertising Research finds that measuring ad campaigns that drive consumer conversations are more likely to be successful.

Democrats Taking Serious Look at Bloomberg: He Leads Buttigieg in Word of Mouth Ranking

Fully 15.5% of Democrats Talked About Bloomberg Last Week, versus 4.9% Who Say they Will Vote for Him

Bloomberg’s Word of Mouth Engagement Exceeds His Share of Polling Preference by the Biggest Margin of Any Candidate

Booker Among Seven Most Talked about, Despite Missing Debate

  bloomberg-raw-img More than half of Democrats (54%) are talking weekly about the candidates seeking their votes in the 2020 primaries, according to a new study released today, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren leading the way, as they are in the national polls. Importantly, however, the new study, by Engagement Labs, reveals that Michael Bloomberg is getting a serious look by Democratic voters just three weeks after entering the race based on the fact that his word of mouth engagement exceeds his share of polling preference by the biggest margin of any candidate. Fully 15.5% of Democratic voters talked about Bloomberg last week, versus 4.9% who say they will vote for him according to the Real Clear Politics Polling Average. The 10.6-point difference is the largest for any Democratic candidate, and his word of mouth engagement exceeds that of Pete Buttigieg, putting him in the top four. “These results reveal that Bloomberg has quickly earned his way into the top consideration set as reflected by his #4 ranking ahead of Mayor Pete,” according to Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs which conducted the study and one of the nation’s leading experts on word of mouth. “We have built many predictive analytics models that demonstrate word of mouth is a powerful and leading indicator of future decisions,” Mr. Keller added.  



Biden Is the Most Talked About Candidate

The study finds that a third of Democrats nationally talked with others in the past week about Biden, making him the most talked about Democratic candidate, followed by Bernie Sanders at 27% and Elizabeth Warren at 21%. This rank order is in line with national polls of Democrats’ preferences. Bloomberg (15%) and Buttigieg (13%) round out the top five most talked about candidates. Remaining candidates are being talked about by fewer than 10% of Democrats, although Booker’s word-of-mouth rank exceeds his polling rank and is in the word-of-mouth top seven, talked about by 6.8%, ahead of Amy Klobuchar at 4.7%, who qualified for the December 18th Democratic debate.  

Conversation Sentiment Favors Sanders, Klobuchar, Buttigieg

When conversation sentiment is factored in, a more nuanced picture emerges. Rarely is conversation about any of the candidates negative, but for some it is strongly positive while for others the outright positive talk turns to a mix of positive and negative. More than two-thirds of conversations about Sanders are positive, the highest for any candidate. He is followed closely by Klobuchar (66% mostly positive) and Buttegieg (65%). When conversations containing both positive and negative aspects are included, these candidates’ conversations are 80-89% either purely or partly positive. This is followed by a group of candidates with positive sentiment at close to 60%, including Warren (60%), Yang (56%), and Biden (55%). For Bloomberg, only 41% of the talk is positive, while almost as much as 37% is a mixture of positive and negative. “We often see that media is a driver of consumer word of mouth, and media awareness also drives more positive sentiment for brands,” says Keller. “The next month will be pivotal to see whether Bloomberg’s media-based strategy is successful in converting chatter into positive advocacy for his candidacy.”  


WHO DEMOCRATS TALK ABOUT POSITIVELY Added Keller, “Corey Booker’s talk level also exceeds his polling rank. Understanding who Democrats are talking about is an important indicator of their deliberative process, and is a sign to the DNC that maybe a different way of determining who’s on the debate stage is in order.” This Democratic Nomination Word-of-Mouth study was conducted online among 1,956 registered Democrats between December 13 and 16, 2019 by Engagement Labs, using sample and data collection technology provided by Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data and insights platform. Respondents reported on candidate conversations they participated in during the past seven days.

Will 2020 Super Bowl Advertisers Settle for Field Goals?

Scoring a Touchdown Requires Success both Online & Offline

super-bowl-54 The 2020 Super Bowl LIV is such a hot ticket for advertisers that before Thanksgiving, Fox Sports reported it sold out all advertising slots, the earliest such an announcement has been made in at least a decade. Prices for a 30-second spot are reportedly between $5 million and $5.6 million. What will eager advertisers get for that size of investment? If past is prologue, many will walk away with field goals, while failing to score touchdowns instead. By that, we mean they’ll enjoy a nice bump in YouTube views for their brands, and possibly social chatter, but the high performers get more far more than that for their investment.  Super Bowl advertisers ought to be driving for touchdowns. Brands seeking to score a touchdown need to drive up multiple metrics—including offline conversations about the advertised brand. Research shows that online and offline conversation, together, drive about 19% of purchases.  But online conversation by itself drives less than half as much, just as a field goal produces only half the points of a touchdown. In our recently published article in the Journal of Advertising Research, an analysis by executives of Engagement Labs compares before-and-after metrics for 23 Super Bowl advertisers, finding that 78% of them enjoyed 10% or more improvement in their YouTube views immediately after the Super Bowl, versus the month prior, and 61% enjoyed a similar uplift in social media conversations. 019-12 SUPER BOWL GRAPH-01 (1) But fewer than half—39%—saw an uplift of in offline conversations, the same as the percentage gaining in Google search volume.  And merely 30% scored an advertisers’ touchdown by driving up both online and offline conversation.  Who were those brands? In 2019, brands scoring a Super Bowl touchdown with both online and offline conversation rising by at least 10% are listed in the table below.  The biggest winner was Bud Light, which drove up nearly every metric we tracked, including online and offline conversations, as well as Google Search. 019-12 SUPER BOWL GRAPH-02 (1) What makes the difference between Super Bowl ads that drive conversation and those that don’t?  As we wrote earlier this year, popularity is not a factor.  Brands that perform well in USA Today’s Ad Meter system for the most likable Super Bowl ads didn’t do well in driving conversation, while some of the “creepy,” even unpopular ads, enjoyed spikes in consumer conversation. Many of the success factors are marketing fundamentals—brands have a better chance at gaining conversation if the advertisement is strongly branded and includes a message that’s easy to remember and talk about. Beyond the fundamentals, successful use of popular culture is highly effective.  Bud Light’s strategy was to leverage the most talked about television program in over a decade, Game of Thrones. Doritos put together the unlikely musical pairing of Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys. Pepsi went all out with actor Steve Carrell, and hip-hop artists Cardi B, and Lil Jon. Talent and production costs may be high when producing a winning Super Bowl commercial, but sometimes that’s the cost of victory. The last five Super Bowl winning teams are all playing with total payrolls well over $200 million.

Amazon Jumps into Lead in TotalSocial® UK Retail Industry Ranker

Selfridges, New Look Shoot Up Ranking Due to Strong Sentiment, Online and Offline

Amazon Jumps into Lead in TotalSocial® UK Retail Industry Ranker Amazon has taken over first place among retailers in the United Kingdom when it comes to driving consumer conversations, both online and offline. In the latest TotalSocial ranker from Engagement Labs, Amazon scores 64.6, up from 59.7 a year ago, good enough to put it ahead of Adidas (62.6) and ASOS (62.3). Surprisingly, perhaps, Amazon’s key strength is offline conversation, ranking first with a score of 73, the highest of any brand, due to the high volume and positive sentiment of consumer conversations related to the eCommerce giant. 019-11 EL02 UK RETAIL RANKER v2 Meantime, the fastest rising brand is Selfridges, the century-old retailer now ranked eighth, up from 22nd a year ago.  In the last year the store has launched a new “Radical Luxury” campaign and has seen its offline sentiment and brand sharing soar, meaning people are talking positively about its marketing and advertising. The brand’s main weakness is a lack of more frequent conversations, particularly offline.  


BRAND SHARING RISES AS NEW CAMPAIGN DRIVES SELFRIGDGES TALK “About 25% of all brand conversations are stimulated by advertising,” said Engagement Labs CEO Ed Keller. “When advertising is designed to be talkworthy, it can generate more personal recommendations for the brand, and the brand’s message enjoys extended reach through social amplification, both online and in the real world.” New Look is also up sharply, to sixth overall, up from 15th, thanks to rising sentiment, especially offline. The positive conversations correlate with a positive turnaround story, a summertime campaign, and a new line of 500 vegan bags and shoes. Due principally to advances by their competitors, ASOS, Marks & Spencer, and John Lewis have all slipped two places in the ranking, to third, fifth, and seventh, respectively. “In order to drive positive conversations in the retail category, it is necessary for brands to take risks and stand out,” said Mr. Keller.  “If you are not moving forward, you are falling behind.”   Engagement Labs has entered a partnership with Kantar Analytics that provides rights to sell the TotalSocial® platform in the UK. To learn more about Kantar and TotalSocial and how to increase your brand’s word of mouth in real life and online, request a complimentary briefing and demo. Sign Up for a Kantar + TotalSocial Demo  

Aveeno Suffers Guilt by Association in Social Media, But Not in Real World

johnsonsaveeno The Johnson & Johnson Company is facing major legal and public relations challenges due to accusations and settlements related to America’s opioid epidemic, and concerns about the safety of its Johnson’s Baby Powder, is recently the target of a large product recall. Not until recent weeks did the problems appear to seriously impact other J&J owned brands such as Aveeno skincare.  Twitter outrage about the possibility of asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder in late October, and linking Aveeno to the parent company, coincided with Aveeno’s online net sentiment plummeting into negative territory, below levels even for the Johnson & Johnson corporate brand and its well-known sibling brand, Tylenol. In addition, a few other negative posts in social media related to suspicions that Aveeno’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Aniston, may have inadvertently posted a photo of herself and her Friends co-stars revealing possible illicit drug use.  


AVEENO’S ONLINE CONVERSATION TURNED VERY NEGATIVE QUICKLY But while online sentiment for Aveeno is plummeting, not so for Aveeno conversations in the real world, which remain extremely positive and rising slightly.  Indeed, even offline conversations about the Johnson & Johnson corporate brand remain more positive than negative, which is a reminder that online conversations can give a very different view than the real-world conversations at water coolers and kitchen tables, as we at Engagement Labs have reported often, including in MediaPost.  


OFFLINE AVEENO CONVERSATION REMAINS HIGHLY POSITIVE Understanding the differences between online and offline conversations is crucial for marketers, because failure to do so can lead to overreactions and bad decisions, as well as missed opportunities to grow their brands. The statistical evidence suggests online and offline conversations impact sales almost equally, making it imperative to perform well in both channels. Further, consumers tend to trust friends and family more than what they see in “social media,” reinforcing further the importance of real world conversations. The need to understand both real world conversation—and not rely on social media as a surrogate—is even more important for large corporate families when the alleged sins of the father may be visited only on the Twitter page of the son or daughter.

Beverage Alcohol Conversations Flourish in an Era of Innovation

Crown Royal, Jack Daniel’s, Blue Moon All Surging in Consumer Conversations

BeerWineSpirits2new report out this month warns that “consumer interest in beverage alcohol is down,” based on shifts in social media conversations.  Produced by social listening company, Social Standards, the report runs counter to industry reports and forecasts, which are more favorable. One key reason why: Social media conversations in isolation provide an insufficient window into larger trends. Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial® platform incorporates both online and offline conversations about brands, including alcoholic beverage brands.  Over the last four years, the volume of conversations has held steady for the biggest beer, spirits, and wine brands, despite the explosion of upstart brands like White Claw, Tito’s, and Modelo, as well as the expanding craft beer and distillery markets in many states. Taken altogether, one must conclude that consumer interest is growing, not declining. Among the eleven most talked about beer brands, the average number of people participating in offline conversations every week has remained steady at about 8 million, while the number for the most talked about eight spirits brands has slipped only slightly from 4 million, as shown below. Both the beer and spirits categories exhibit strong seasonal variation, peaking during the December holidays and in June/July most years. 019-10 EL05 BEER AND LIQUOR BRANDS GRAPHS-01 While category talk levels are holding up, we are seeing some big shifts at the individual brand level when considering all four of Engagement Labs TotalSocial® metrics, including volume, sentiment, brand sharing, and influence. Whiskey is having a good year.  Jack Daniel’s has surged into first place, up from sixth last year, with a composite score of 57, and Crown Royal has surged 10 positions to second.  They are followed by two rising beer brands, Budweiser and Blue Moon. Meantime, Samuel Adams has dropped to eighth place from second, and Heineken dropped to tenth from fourth. Bud Light has dropped two spots, to fifth, despite commercials that appeared to win the Super Bowl in 2019. 019-10 EL05 BEER AND LIQUOR BRANDS RANK-01 (2) A key factor in the rise of Jack Daniel’s and Crown Royal has been super-high sentiment scores, meaning that many more good things than bad things are being said about the brands.  Crown Royal has the highest “net sentiment” in offline conversations, and third highest online, behind Blue Moon and Samuel Adams. Jack Daniel’s is third highest for offline net sentiment, behind Crown Royal and Blue Moon. In a very strong sign for the category, offline sentiment scores are rising for the beer and spirits categories over the last four years, as shown in the chart below. However, online sentiment scores are declining, reinforcing our consistent finding that while both online and offline conversations are important they are very different and one cannot predict the other.  


019-10 EL05 BEER AND LIQUOR BRANDS GRAPHS-04 Indeed, there is reason to believe that for the beverage alcohol industry, social media may be a particularly poor predictor of offline behavior. One reason is that many marketers hold back on social media due to complicated rules for beverage alcohol. Another factor is that many social media users will be wary of sharing too many posts about alcohol, for fear of implying they have a drinking problem, or simply to avoid the risk of offending friends and family who are confirmed non-drinkers. Thus, marketers should be wary of drawing sweeping conclusions from consumer opinions posted online.