Super Bowl LV

At MiQ we’re big sports fans – and even bigger fans of advertising data and analysis. While this year’s Super Bowl wasn’t the most exciting game we’ve ever watched, there was a ton of data to look through around how people watched this year and how they responded to the most expensive commercials ever shown. Let’s dive into the data and look at how America handled this year’s Big Game.


This data comes from a mixture of sources. Primarily MiQ’s log-level integration with AppNexus, which provides impression data and TV usage data from opted-in Vizio and LG smart TVs. This data comes from January and February, 2021.

How Americans ate during the Super Bowl

Having a spread of great food for Super Bowl Sunday is a time-honored tradition and, with the pandemic making attending bars and restaurants less likely, this year was no exception. Take-out and delivery orders increased all week leading into the day of the game.



Americans stayed home this year

Prior to the game, the CDC expressed concern over Super Bowl parties being ‘super-spreader’ events. While that may still end up being the case, food orders seem to indicate that people generally stayed home during the game – order sizes on game day were about the same as they had been all week, though people were generally more likely to order in. Four out of ten Americans who put an order item in their cart ended up making a purchase, up 23% from last week.



Viewers were more likely to cook this year

Traffic on cooking websites increased 37% leading into the Super Bowl this year, suggesting that people were more interested in home-cooked spreads than delivery. 

Drink delivery services were the big winners

Activity on grocery websites and alcohol/drink delivery sites increased 72% over last year’s game day as people turned to safer means of drink acquisition. 92% of these orders came from repeat customers (who had made an order in the three months prior).

Watching the Super Bowl… and something else

Using our sample of opted-in Smart TVs, we identified 2.3m US households who tuned into the live telecast, and of those about half watched for more than three hours. 16% of TV viewers tuned in through OTT platforms or apps. Spanish language viewers accounted for about 12% of viewership and 94% of those viewers watched the entire game.




Phone usage during the Super Bowl

We counted 17.6m internet-connected devices in those 2.3m households. 56% of the active devices during the game were phones that generated a median of nine impressions during the game, though some generated as many as 300. While overall the number of active second screens during the game decreased by 7%, the people who were on their phones during the game were much more active – the amount of activity per device, as well as the number of ad opportunities generated, went up 4%.



If someone was going online while watching the Super Bowl, news and sports were the most likely content categories they’d be looking at, accounting for 22% and 18%, respectively, of pages viewed on second screens during the game. Online gaming also went up 69% on mobile devices that were active while watching the game. Consumers’ response rate to ads remained about the same.

Watching Super Bowl ads

The average viewer saw 50 commercials during this year’s game, and those watching the entire thing could have seen 80 or more. 92% of the game’s ads were shown to completion. The impact of that exposure was mixed. Looking at search data from the game shows that there was a measurable but small positive correlation between this year’s TV ads and search activity for those brands (r=0.231), though the big winners here were food and drink brands. Doritos, Cheetos, Lays, Anheuser-Busch, Uber Eats, and Door Dash all saw increases of more than 500% in online search activity during and after the game, while financial/trading apps like Robinhood and Etrade saw only minor increases.





Social activity

Chipotle, Doritos, and M&Ms saw the greatest impact on social media channels during and after the Super Bowl, though Toyota also managed to generate a 40% increase in tweets from its ads this year.

Auto manufacturers and Super Bowl advertising

The Super Bowl has traditionally been a battleground for auto manufacturers, a platform for new product launches and a way to put new campaigns in front of a massive audience. Although recent Super Bowl heavies like Kia and Hyundai sat this year out, we still saw fierce competition from auto brands for viewers’ attention this year. Brands who did so saw an increase in online activity around their brands, though Cadillac was the clear winner in this regard, generating a more than 330% increase in search activity during the Super Bowl. GM’s push on electric vehicles also appears to have garnered significant interest, more than doubling the brand’s search interest from prior weeks.



For Americans, this year’s Super Bowl may have been a more subdued event but it was more important than ever for advertisers to get their message right. But as we’ve seen in prior years, for brands the game doesn’t end when the Lombardi trophy is handed out – consumer interest for brands shown during the Super Bowl will be higher in the weeks following. It’s up to those brands to capitalize by making the Super Bowl part of an omnichannel strategy that follows up on the awareness boost generated to drive consumers toward action.