Hashtags in Super Bowl ads slip to 30% in 2017, overtaken by URL use in 41%

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hashtagbowl 2017Hashtags were in 30% of Super Bowl 51 ads, down significantly from 45% last year. More ads used URLs than hashtags for the first time since Marketing Land has measured them, 41% in all. Twitter barely beat Facebook and Instagram as the most-mentioned social network, though neither was explicitly mentioned often.

The statistics are from our sixth annual Hashtag Bowl count of hashtags, social media mentions and URLs in ads shown during Super Bowl LI.

We tabulated only nationally-shown ads and only those shown between kickoff until the game ended. See further below for our full rundown and further notes on this.

The Count

The scoreboard at the top of this article has our final count, but here’s the summary with percentages, based on a total of 66 ads reviewed.

  • Total national ads (kickoff to end-of-game): 66
  • Hashtags in ads: 20 total, in 30% of ads overall
  • URLs in ads: 27 total, in 41% of ads overall
  • Twitter in ads: 5 total, 8& of ads overall
  • Facebook: 4 total, 6% of ads overall
  • Instagram:4 total, 6% of ads overall

Below, the frequency of both hashtag and URL use as Marketing Land has tracked over recent years:

hashtag bowl over years

Hashtag usage in Super Bowl ads hit a peak of 57% in 2014. It was 50% for 2013 and 2015. The lowest usage was 12% in 2012, when Marketing Land first began tracking.

The real surprise this year was URL use overtaking hashtags. Marketing Land first began measuring URLs in 2014. They consistently stayed below hashtag usage until overtaking it this year.

For those interested in past years, our past counts: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Hashtags remain plentiful

While hashtags dropped from previous levels, they were certainly in many ads — beginning with the third ad aired after kick-off by Avocados from Mexico with the #AvoSecrets hashtag:

avocados from mexico

Here’s Skittles with another example of an ad including a hashtag:

skittles ad

Twitter leads Facebook, but social mentions remain small

As with previous years, mentions of particular social networks was tiny. T-Mobile aired four ads that were responsible for most mentions, since those ads had logos for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Here are examples of two of them:

t-mobile super bowlt-mobile super bowl

It was Wonderful Pistachios that gave Twitter the nudge ahead, mentioning only that social network in its ad and calling out its Twitter account:

Wonderful Pistachios

84 Lumber pushes people to site — and fails

Perhaps the most engaging use — and also biggest fail — of an element in a Super Bowl ad was by 84 Lumber. The company aired the story of immigrants trying to enter the United States, one that stopped short of the ending, with the enticement to view the rest at the journey84.com site:

84 Lumber

Unfortunately, demand swamped the site, perhaps because 84 Lumber wasn’t scaled up enough to handle it. It was down for many for nearly 30 minutes after the ad aired. On Twitter, the company apologized and directed people to its YouTube channel.

Running order of ads

Below is the full list of ads included in our survey, in order of appearance. Any hashtags used are listed. If an ad had a URL, Twitter or Facebook mention, there’s a 1 shown. If not, there’s a zero.

3Avocados From Mexico#AvoSecrets0000
4Mobile Strike0000
5H&R Block0000
8American Petroleum Institute1000
13World Of Tanks1000
14Yellow Tail0000
15Pirates of the Carreabean#PiratesLife0000
16Wonderful Pistachios0100
25Coca Cola0000
26The Handmaid’s Tale#HandmaidsTale0000
29Alfa Romeo1000
31Turbo Tax0000
33Fate of the Furious#F81000
3884 Lumber1000
40Mr Clean0000
46It’s a 101000
47A Cure for Wellness0000
50Alfa Romeo0000
53Amazon Echo (x3)0000
54Turkish Airlines0000
55King’s Hawaiian1000
56Bud Light0000
58Nintendo Switch1000
60Alfa Romeo1000
63The Handmaid’s Tale#HandmaidsTale0000

We tried to count only ads that were nationally shown, as best we could, viewing from Los Angeles. Promos for shows on FOX or from the NFL were not included, nor were very short 15 second ads for The Walking Dead and Fiji Water.

We did include a joint NFL/Tide ad because it was more than an NFL promo. We combined the count for three Amazon Echo ads into one, because all were very short and shown within the same block with other ads.

We also included some repeat ads shown after the unprecedented overtime period began. Overtime ads began with 63 onward.

Stay tuned for more. Now that the hashtags have gone out in all these Super Bowl ads, Marketing Land will be churning through the data from various parties over the coming weeks to help readers understand which ads and campaigns were big hits and which were not.

About The Author

Danny Sullivan is a Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Marketing Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.


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