Analysts from three of the industry’s vehicle-driven websites — AutoTrader.com, KBB.com and Edmunds.com — stayed busy before, during and after Super Bowl XLVIII to compile data showing which automakers generated the most consumer and online traffic buzz through commercials throughout the broadcast.
All three sites noticed a significant lift Maserati experienced with its campaign.
At AutoTrader.com, analysts indicated Maserati saw the biggest lift in searches at both the make and model level on their site. Analysts noted searches for the Ghibli model rose 2,143 percent the hour after their ad ran, while searches for Maserati as a whole were up 385 percent.
Meanwhile, Kelley Blue Book determined new-vehicle searches on KBB.com for the Ghibli increased 4,250 percent, the most of any advertised model during Super Bowl XLVIII.
And Edmunds.com found that Maserati enjoyed a 299-percent lift in shopper activity on its site following the Ghibli advertisement.
“Maserati, not a name that you would associate with your average household luxury brand, stepped into the foyer in a major fashion. In an ad that was reminiscent of a movie trailer, the Ghibli was introduced to the general public, Maserati’s first car selling under $100K (base $66,900),” said Arthur Henry, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
“There are less luxury shoppers than there are non-luxury shoppers in the marketplace today, and it takes much to move the needle,” Henry continued. “This year was different in which luxury shoppers responded in a big way. In years past when shoppers where tighter with their wallets, the luxury brands didn't have the impact on shoppers as they did this year.
“As the economy and shopper confidence improves, luxury looks to be the hot ticket item for 2014,” he went on to say.
More AutoTrader.com Analysis
While Maserati led the way in generating site activity gains, AutoTrader.com analysts found that first-time big game advertiser Jaguar wasn’t too far behind as searches for the F-Type were up 1,460 percent the hour after its “Rendezvous” spot ran.
AutoTrader.com noted that searches for Jaguar overall rose 208 percent on the site.
Analysts mentioned luxury vehicles from the higher volume manufacturers also drew in a significant amount of car shopper interest.
The Audi A3 saw the third largest gain from a make/model perspective with a 379-percent increase in search activity coming from their “Doberhuahua” spot with Hyundai right on its heels with a 373-percent lift in searches for the Genesis.
However, AutoTrader.com vice president of automotive insights Rick Wainschel pointed out that automakers didn’t necessarily have to have a high-end offering to break through. Wainschel noted the lift in searches for mainstream models Toyota Highlander and Ford Fusion were also significant, rising 84 percent and 81 percent, respectively.
“While the strong performance of the exotic manufacturers was impressive, it’s in a way more relevant to see which of the volume vehicles broke through,” Wainschel said. “Models like the A3, Genesis, Fusion and Highlander have a significant amount of competition and are on more consumers’ shopping lists, so it means a bit more when they can stand out.”
From a brand perspective, AutoTrader.com discovered Kia was another big winner of the night with a search lift of 150 percent the hour following “The Truth” spot.
Wainschel mentioned Hyundai and Audi performed well in the brand category as well with searches up 50 percent and 47 percent, respectively. He said the Chrysler brand ad featuring Bob Dylan was another strong performer with a lift of 47 percent.
“It’s not easy to achieve these kinds of large shifts in search activity at the brand level, so it’s clear that these ads were doing something right,” said John Kovac, vice president of marketing for AutoTrader Group. “The Kia ad in particular was a great example of leveraging smart creative to shift brand perception in a very relevant, intentional way, and it definitely resonated with car shoppers.”
To reach these conclusions, AutoTrader.com analysts measured search activity at the make and model level in the hour immediately after the ad ran and compared it to activity the hour before the game (5 to 6 p.m. EST). This timeframe was determined to be the most statistically appropriate baseline after an extensive analysis of site traffic patterns over several years.
AutoTrader.com analysts said they will continue to monitor how the ads impact searches in the days and weeks ahead to identify which spots were most effective in sustaining consumer attention. Researchers will also be gathering attitudinal insights from on-site surveys and the site's big game social landing page, where consumers can watch all of the automotive commercials, comment and vote on their favorites.
Activity Readings at KBB.com
Mirroring activity at other sites, Kelley Blue Book found that Super Bowl advertisements pushed consumers to luxury badges at KBB.com, too.
Analysts indicated activity on the site for the Jaguar F-Type, Hyundai Genesis and Audi A3 increased 1,733 percent, 838 percent and 813 percent, respectively, after the ads aired.
Not only did luxury cars Ghibli, F-Type, Genesis and A3 have effective advertising, Henry mentioned the Ford Fusion Hybrid was the most searched non-luxury model on KBB.com after its ad aired.
“Ford, like Wonderful Pistachios, ran two back-to-back ads for its product,” Henry said. “Ford was able to captivate viewers with its high action commercials to influence them to research the model on KBB.com.
“Ford was the only automaker to advertise a hybrid model, and it was able to amplify its message for the Fusion Hybrid as class leading in fuel economy, which is a very attractive selling point,” he added.
Henry also mentioned the mileage Jeep seemed to get out of its campaign.
“Jeep experienced the highest search activity on KBB.com of all non-luxury brands that advertised in the Big Game after the ad aired,” Henry said.
“The automaker resonated well with the audience with its ‘Built Free’ campaign, further carving itself as the brand with the most rugged sport utility vehicles,” he went on to say.
Edmunds.com analysts discovered Kia received a large lift in site activity due to the Matrix themed advertisement for the Kia K900. Analysts called the spot for the Kia K900 a “clear winner” since the campaign produced 7,100-percent lift over previous Sunday activity on the site.
“Despite not running ads during the Super Bowl game, Ford models did very well. Ford Fusion Hybrid had a 117-percent lift and Ford Fusion had a 29-percent lift,” Edmunds.com said.
“While Chevrolet Silverado 1500 did not have any lift from their non-specific Silverado HD ad, Silverado 3500 Classic had a 314-percent lift, Silverado 1500 Hybrid had a 38-percent lift and Silverado 3500HD had a 25-percent lift,” site analysts continued.
“Honda and Volkswagen, who opted for model agnostic ads, did not see any increase in consideration last night,” they concluded.