In the old days, you watched a Super Bowl ad and unless the brand offered a Twitter sweepstakes or specific call to action, the journey stopped there. But thanks to digital commerce, the journey from ad to action is quicker and more direct. In seconds of seeing a Super Bowl ad, consumers can search on Amazon or Walmart.com, learn more about the brand and product, and have it on their doorsteps by the next day.
In theory, this makes the return-on-investment of Super Bowl advertising stronger than it’s ever been before. But what happens when competitors “intercept” your Super Bowl brand traffic and use it to call attention to their own brands and products on retailer websites, instead of yours?
Many savvy brands did just that during this year’s Super Bowl. Instead of paying millions of dollars for 30 or 60 seconds of national air time, they spent a fraction of that on banner ads and sponsored search results to conquest the brand names of Super Bowl advertisers.
We examined 20 consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands who advertised during this year’s game between 6pm and 10pm ET. Online product pages and search results were monitored using top search terms across Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart. Each brand was then rated based on a Brand Interception Index to determine who did the best (and worst) job defending their brands from competitor ads.
We witnessed 6,548 instances of brands attempting to intercept competitor brands on Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart.com during the course of the game.
They may not have had a splashy TV ad, but Modelo and Corona would have been hard to miss when shopping online for Stella Artois, Michelob Ultra, and other AB InBev products. We found 304 instances where Modelo and Corona (Constellation Brands) intercepted AB InBev by placing an advertisement on a key search term or product page.
There were other instances where brands had to adjust on the fly. Planters started the game off strong by defending its search terms and product detail pages (PDP), but Blue Diamond made adjustments at halftime and doubled its sponsorship spots after Planters ad ran. Blue Diamond attempted to intercept Planters 119 times, however Planters fended off the charge and ended the night with 10% more ads than its competitor.
One of the smart steals of the game was by Coors who conquested Michelob's organic beer ad on Instacart, creating awareness for its own organic offering without the $7 million spent on TV advertising.
What was both surprising and interesting was that oftentimes the brands conquesting each other were owned by the same parent company, which meant brands were in an ad bidding war with themselves. PepsiCo was the biggest offender, with more than 60% of sponsorship space for Doritos and 32% of sponsorship space for Cheetos was being conquested by another PepsiCo brand. Lays intercepted Cheetos 102 times, Cheetos intercepted Doritos 57 times, and Frito-Lay intercepted Cheetos 45 times.
M.V.P.s (Most Vigilant Protectors)
Here are the companies that did the best job defending their brand terms:
Gillette was the leader of the pack, however there is still room for improvement. The company performed well on Amazon and Walmart, but the product it advertised during the game, the GilletteLabs Razor with Exfoliating Bar, was not widely available from the grocery stores we examined within Instacart. Gillette still showed up in search, but it was left promoting older and cheaper models.
PepsiCo spent big on Super Bowl 56, both on TV advertising and digital ads. Despite conquesting its own brands on multiple occasions, PepsiCo appeared to successfully block out competitors from overshadowing its brands. All of the PepsiCo brands we tracked were rated at the top of the pack, earning high marks for sponsored search results and PDP ads.
Irish Spring was one of the few brands to evenly distribute resources across PDP ads, banner ads, and sponsored search results, which helped it keep competitors at bay. Similar to PepsiCo, however, there were instances where other Colgate-Palmolive brands, such as Softsoap, conquested Irish Spring.
Cutwater Spirits (owned by AB InBev) was the top performing BevAl brand. They showed up strong in sponsored search results with their only weakness being that they failed to see it all the way through and defend themselves on the product page, which resulted in a lower overall score.
L.V.P.s (Least Vigilant Protectors)
These are the companies that need to do better at defending their brand terms:
Pringles was the worst performing food brand and was conquested heavily in search. It failed to invest resources in sponsored search results and was pushed out of the favorable positions on page one by Lay’s and other competitors. We found Lays intercepted Pringles 142 times.
Profitero monitored 20 products on Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart.com (desktop), where available, in four major U.S. markets – Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City – between 6pm and 10pm ET on February 13, 2022. For Instacart, Profitero chose the largest grocery chains in each region: Meijer in Chicago, Albertsons in Los Angeles, Publix in Miami, and Stop & Shop in New York. Search results and product pages were monitored at the start of the game, at halftime, and at the conclusion of the game.
Brands were rated using a scoring system called the Brand Interception Index that measures how each Super Bowl advertiser did at defending their brands from being intercepted by competitor ads in retailer search results and on product pages.
Search keywords included the exact brand and/or product being advertised in the Super Bowl, plus four additional variations that were determined to be popular variations of the brand or product being advertised and/or common misspellings. A total of 5 keywords were included for each brand advertised. The first five sponsored or organic products that appeared in search results on each retailer from the relevant keywords were selected when examining product pages.
Products monitored include: BiC EZ Reach, Budweiser, Bud Light Next, Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda, Busch Light, Cutwater Spirits, Cheetos Flamin' Hot Crunchy, Doritos Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch, GilletteLabs with Exfoliating Bar, Hellmann's Mayo, Irish Spring, Lay’s, Michelob Ultra, Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, Oikos, Pepsi, Planters, Pringles, and Stella Artois