Don't Get Bamboozled by Post-Super Bowl 'Results'

An Ad Age Editorial

Published on .

Never has a group of ads been so scrutinized, dissected and measured -- and all to tell us so little.

Doritos' consumer-generated spot took top honors on USA Today's Ad Meter poll, which tells us the spot won a popularity contest among 288 people who have a fondness for groin-injury humor.

Collective Intellect's parsing of online buzz that found Pepsi and Coke were the big winners. Denny's, meanwhile, was along the lowest performers. Despite its lousy performance with the Twitterati and Facebook friends, more than 2 million real people showed up across Denny's locations in the U.S. for free Grand Slams.

Innerscope's InnerScore put Career Builder, Cash4Gold and Castrol at the top of its rankings. Innerscope gauges a person's emotional response to an ad by measuring heart rate, respiration, movement and perspiration. So while we have no idea what people thought about those brands, we do know that screaming women, Ed McMahon and chimps make people sweaty and jittery.

Then there's good old-fashioned recall. We'd bet many people can recall the PETA spots that didn't even run in the game. How hard is it to forget a video of half-naked women dancing around while licking vegetables? We'd also bet that the spot did nothing for the PETA brand and did even less to convert anyone to vegetarianism.

We understand the impulse to pay for such services. Especially in a tight economy, marketers have a desperate need to prove ROI on $3 million spots.

Of course, that's not to say all such polls and metrics are completely worthless. They can be good for gauging overall consumer sentiment and popularity. But they should not be mistaken for real measurements of ROI. And they certainly shouldn't guide your major marketing decisions.

As a marketer, you know why you're in the game. You know what you've set out to do and how much money you've spent. And you know what the audience wants. So, sure, provide something that is entertaining or that will generate buzz -- or, at a minimum, won't anger viewers. But if you're smart, the spot is merely a centerpiece in a larger effort, parts of which should provide you with your own ROI.

Then again, if you've made the dubious decision to spend $3 million simply for popularity, then by all means base your marketing on the wisdom of the crotch-joke crowd.

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