The Super Bowl may be the biggest event in sport (except, of course, everywhere outside of the U.S.), but everyone knows that the battle that occurs each year on Super Bowl Sunday doesn't take place on the field. It takes place during the commercial breaks.

The battle for consumer hearts and minds costs a lot of money, and it increasingly involves the internet, which is where much of the buzz about Super Bowl commercials can be found.

Semantic web service provider OpenAmplify has applied its technology to the online buzz on YouTube following this year's Super Bowl. So who won the battle of the buzz? Automaker Audi created the most engagement (YouTube Ad Blitz views versus reactions) with its 'green police' commercial. But not all of the buzz around Audi's commercial was positive. In fact, nearly half of those who reacted to the ad had a negative reaction.

Whose commercial received the most positive reaction? That distinction belongs to Snickers, whose commercial featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda led to an 18,000% jump in YouTube search queries for 'Snickers' following the airing of the commercial. Somewhat surprisingly, Google's Parisian Love commercial ranked number two in positive reactions behind Snickers. Not bad considering that Google's ad was never designed for the Super Bowl. According to OpenAmplify, 87% of the reactions to Google's spot were positive. Rounding out the top spots for most positive reactions were the commercials from Volkswagen and Coke.

Needless to say, it's fun to play Monday Morning Quarterback with Super Bowl commercials. But how consumers react to these commericals is important to brands, and it seems likely that semantic analysis of online buzz can be useful to brands as they look to build better commercials. After all, how consumers feel about an ad is just as important as how many react to it.

Take Audi's commercial, for instance. While it had the highest engagement ranking, it had the second lowest percentage of positive sentiment reactions amongst the 10 commercials with the most reactions. That means that Audi might want to reassess what kind of emotions it seeks to evoke with future commercials.

Obviously, semantic analysis isn't the end all and be all of interpreting online buzz, and brands should still take advantage of traditional techniques like focus groups. But thanks to the popularity of websites like YouTube and the willingness with which consumers share their opinions online, brands have a great opportunity to acquire valuable feedback in a passive manner.

Photo credit: SashaW via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 February, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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