This is Michael Wolfe’s annual review of TV commercials for Super Bowl 2020 using data from Advertising Benchmark Index or ABX.  Wolfe is CEO of Bottom-Line Analytics and a foremost thinker in the realm of market mix modeling. His purpose here is not just to review ad copy scores of individual ads, but also to understand key lessons of what makes these ads different from ordinary advertising and the special role they play in an advertiser’s marketing mix. For more information, see our informational page 

Ad Effectiveness & Super Bowl Audience Trends

In 2020, Nielsen reported Super-Bowl Audience was at 99.9 million.  This was up very slightly from the past year; but it wasn’t enough to erase the trend of declining Super Bowl audiences over the past three years. By contrast, ABX tested 60 Super Bowl ads and their collective ad copy effectiveness index stood at 114, a +7 point increase from 2019, and an eight-year high! As shown in the chart below, ad-copy effectiveness has increased, while audience size has declined. This declining audience trend remains a challenge for those who advertise on this medium. It is likely to remain a challenge for future Super Bowl advertisers.

Super-Bowl Advertising Costs and Trends

The attraction and value of Super-Bowl advertising has always been its gigantic audience and ratings. Nevertheless, the cost of a Super-Bowl ad in 2020 reached an all-time record of about $58,000 per million impressions! Overall costs for these TV ad spots have been increasing at an 8 percent annual rate since 2010.  Overlaying these steep cost increases with a declining audience is probably the greatest challenge facing the TV networks’ ability to command premium prices for these ads in the years ahead! At least it should be; but so far there is no evidence in reduced ad inflation.

Top Performing 2020 Super Bowl Ads

When we compare the Top Ten Super Bowl ads from 2020 with those of 2019, we see a collective ad copy-effectiveness score of 129 compared to 122: it was a considerable improvement! When we look at the type of ads in this elite group, it shows a more diverse product and brand mix than normally found: no longer is it dominated by beer, soft-drink and auto ads.  In fact, in the 2020 Super Bowl, for the first time,included two political ads from Bloomberg and Trump. Interestingly, none of these ads performed very well by the standards of ABX’s copy testing survey.

Cheetos, Tide Detergent, Google, Doritos and Weathertech produced the five top ads with scores within the top 90th percentile of all ABX tested ads since 2012. When compared to common sources of Super-Bowl ad performance published in newspapers and otherwise, ABX’s methodology includes measures of how ads affect a viewer’s propensity to act towards the advertised brand; whereas the other published methods are more based on measures of entertainment value or likeability.

Video clips of the Top 10 ads are shown on the links below to see video clips.

1. Cheetos “Can’t touch this”

2. Tide “Emily Charlie”

3. Google “Loretta”

4. Doritos “The Cool Ranch”

5. Weathertech “Lucky Dog”

6. T-Mobile “Moma Test 5G”

7. Discover Card “No No Way”

8. Hyundai Autos “Smaht Pahk”

9. Budweiser “Typical American”

10. Little Caesar’s “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”

Does a Strong Super-Bowl Ad Carry Over into the Year-Ahead?

One of the frequently cited benefits of Super-Bowl advertising is the good-will it brings toward all of a brand’s advertising; and that its impact can actually carry-over into the balance of the year with stronger performing ads. The ABX data shows that top ads score very high on brand reputation from ad viewers.

To answer this question, we looked at the Top 10 ads from the 2019 Super-Bowl and measured each of the top performing brands’ ad effectiveness both prior to and after the Super Bowl event. The chart below illustrates these ads’ overall copy effectiveness trends.

In this chart, we measure each brand’s overall ABX ad effectiveness scores for the year before and after the Super Bowl of 2019. While each brand’s ad effectiveness spiked up during the Super-Bowl, their overall effectiveness after this event tended to be higher than the period before, suggesting that there could very well have been a halo benefit from their strong Super-Bowl ads.

How Super-Bowl Ad Effectiveness maps into the NFL Fan Profile?

If Super-Bowl advertising is directed toward the NFL Football fan, how well does its advertising effectiveness match that profile?  How does this match the fans in terms of gender, age and ethnicity?


When considering gender, NFL statistics show that males represent 60% of their fan base.  Therefore, relative to their 50.5% share of the population, female NFL fans index at just 79 relative to the 121 index for males. In the 2020 Super Bowl, ad effectiveness among males was significantly higher than females.  The ad effectiveness by gender therefore maps and aligns with the incidence of NFL fans by gender.

nfl fans


When we look at NFL fan incidence by ethnicity, the chart below maps the alignment with Super-Bowl ad effectiveness for these groups. As the evidence shows, the NFL fan incidence of African Americans is much higher than their ad effectiveness would suggest, and the opposite is true for Hispanic Americans. This might suggest that advertising creatives need to do a better job of speaking to African Americans via Super-Bowl advertising.


The biggest mismatch when comparing Super-Bowl ad effectiveness with NFL Fan incidence is by age-generation segment. Advertising effectiveness for Super-Bowl ads is significantly higher among younger Millennial and Generation X populations than the older 55+ Baby Boomer group. Yet, the 55+ Boomer group is the strongest core of the NFL Fans.
To some extent, this is because advertising creatives for Super Bowl ads are in a contest to create ads which are “cool, funny, entertaining and witty,” which speak more to these younger groups. While the Super-Bowl ads are effective, they do not appear to be efficient.  In addition, the more loyal Boomer-age Football fan might be more annoyed with advertising and consider it an unwanted interruption from the time they focus on the game itself? 

Final Observations and Insights

Super Bowl advertising has its challenges and, thus far, has not made much headway in overcoming them. These include:

1.    A declining trend in audience size and viewership

2.    A spiraling increase in ad cost, which exceeds inflation and is a mismatch to the declining audience

3.    A gap in Super-Bowl advertising messaging resonating with core NFL fan groups including over 55 Boomers and African Americans.

The overall effectiveness of Super-Bowl advertising has been shown to be no better than advertising across other times of the year.  Yet, while Super-Bowl advertising effectiveness has been increasing, this might not be enough.  When there are gaps in reaching key fan groups, perhaps the historical formula of just creating ads that are “cool, funny, entertaining and witty” is not enough for navigating future Super Bowls.

Across many years of doing marketing-mix models, I have not found an instance where there has been a positive ROI pay-out to a TV Super-Bowl ad. As we have seen in 4 years of studying these through ABX copy tests, Super Bowl ads do well in driving awareness and getting viewers to talk about their ads; and evidence tends to show that it drives brand reputation and perhaps it has a positive halo on the brand’s future advertising effectiveness. Overall, it still remains an opportunity to penetrate a very large audience with a message. However, Super-Bowl ads are probably missing the mark on the older die-hard football fans and with African-Americans; and declining audience trends will likely remain a challenge to its continued attraction.

Michael Wolfe, CEO of Bottom-Line Analyticsmjw@bottomlineanaltics.com, brings about 30 years of direct experience in  marketing analytics on the client, ad-agency and consulting sides. On the former, Michael worked for Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Kellogg’s and Fisher-Price. He has also consulted with such blue-chip firms as AT&T, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Hyatt Corp., L’Oreal, FedEx and Starbucks. Michael has broad experience in marketing analytics covering marketing ROI modeling, social media analytics, pricing and brand strategy; and he has numerous articles on these subjects.

Are you satisfied with how you are measuring advertising effectiveness?  Is it resonating through Awareness and Message, and having an impact on Reputation and Action?  ABX provides the largest normative database in the industry across all media types. On average you can improve your creative effectiveness by almost 20%.  If you have questions, or would like a quick, informal chat, please click here.

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Jeff Schamel

Vice President, Operations

Jeff Schamel Directs Operations for ABX with Experience from IPSOS and P&G

Jeff has more than 25 years of market research experience including project management, client service, operations, production and sales.

Before joining the ABX Senior Management team, Jeff was a Senior Account Manager at Ipsos, working with Procter & Gamble and other client assignments. Prior to that, he was Senior Project Manager for Opinion One, where he was responsible for guiding the company’s online, mall and other initiatives for eight years.

Jeff began his market research career with Cooper Research while participating in the Professional Practice Program at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon graduating with his BS in Marketing and Management, Jeff led a team of data analysts as Group Manager at Matrixx Marketing Research (now Concentrix).

Jeff’s broad in-depth marketing research experiences enable him to bring a unique perspective to directing operations that creates effective and efficient environments to support a wide range of client activities.  Having come up in the industry alongside the advent and progression of online interviewing, he has a unique perspective on the benefits and challenges of conducting quality research resulting in meaningful results.

Jeff considers himself an amateur music historian and sports enthusiast, as well as a family man, who takes advantage of the many outdoor activities in his community including biking, hiking, kayaking and swimming.

Dr. Peter Moomaw

Co-Founder, Vice President, Development

Peter is the primary developer of operations technology and data analysis. As a chief visionary on the Research and Development team, Peter works to generate innovative ideas for the continued development of processes and protocols.

Peter brings 17+ years’ experience in software development in the market research industry. He was previously at Opinion One, where he was integral in the development of research software systems covering a number of areas.

Peter has a BA in Mathematics, a BS in Physics, and a PhD in Physics, all from the University Cincinnati.

Martin Geraghty
Martin Geraghty

Vice President, Client Services

Geraghty Brings Experience from Roper Starch, GfK, MRI and IPSOS to ABX

Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the market research space including business development, methodology, product design, operations, client service, analysis and sales. He is a member the ABX Management Group with both client-service and operational responsibilities. Before joining ABX, Martin held senior management positions at Roper Starch Worldwide, GfK, MRI (Mediamark Research) and Ipsos. At Ipsos, he managed client service covering all aspects of the research process including research design. He managed the development and implementation of several brand and advertising measurement programs across a broad range of business sectors, helping clients maximize marketing objectives and return on investment. Prior to joining Ipsos, Martin was Vice President at MRI and was involved in business development, day-to-day management and long-term planning and growth for syndicated and custom programs. He also developed and updated the organization’s operational infrastructure to bring new and improved measurements to the marketplace. Before joining MRI, Martin was a Vice President of Operations at GfK. He managed researchers developing programs to monitor and improve methodologies. He played a key role in overseeing profit responsibility of client programs. Prior to his role at GfK, he was Vice President of Research and Operations at Roper Starch Worldwide.
Michael Alf

Co-Founder Ocucom and ABX, Vice President, Software Development

Michael Alf Brings 12 Years’ Software Engineering in the Market Research Industry

Michael is one Founders of Ocucom, of which ABX is a division, and has over 12 years’ of software engineering experience in the market research industry. As a Lead Software Engineer with Ocucom, he brings a unique blend of a technological background along with hands-on market research experience. Michael specializes in providing custom software solutions utilizing Ocucom’s dynamic software platform to address unique client needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Prior to starting with Ocucom, Michael was a senior software engineer at Opinion One in Cincinnati, where he was one of the principal architects of the OASIS 2 Survey Software Package. He also played a key role in developing a licensable solution to bring to the market place as well as handling the logistics of on-site training and support of end-client users.

Michael obtained his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati.

Greg Tunstill

Co-Founder, Chief Information Officer

Greg Tunstill Leads the Creation of ABX Communications Tools

Greg Tunstill, a founder of ABX, is the Chief Information Officer responsible for ABX’s technical infrastructure and maintenance. He also leads the design and development of ABX’s communications tools, a critical component of its technology services.

Prior to joining ABX, Greg was Director of Network Operations of Opinion One since its inception in 1992. He designed and developed the communications systems that were the core of its data collection networks and was responsible for continuing development and implementation of information technologies. Prior to his position at Opinion One, he designed inventory control and expert systems for BellSouth field offices and worked as a consultant and independent contractor. In 1991 he joined Americom Research as a systems engineer where he advanced to Director of Network Operations and met members of the team that formed Opinion One.

Greg is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Julian Brown

Chief Technology Officer

Julian Brown is an ABX Founder and Chief Visionary for Strategic Planning

Julian brings 20+ years of software engineering and market research experience to ABX. As one of the Founders and in his position as Chief Technology Officer, Julian is the chief visionary responsible for strategic planning and development.

His primary day to day roles include management of software development, oversight of survey production, and lead architect for custom software development projects. As the principal technology architect, Julian adapts emerging technologies for use in market research. He is responsible for maintaining the “continuous development” philosophy.

Before becoming one of the Founders, Julian was Vice President, Software Engineering at Opinion One. In this capacity, he was responsible for the design and development of Opinion One’s core technology and licensing products.

Prior to Opinion One, Julian worked for Americom Research, starting as a Software Engineer and progressing to Director, Software Development. While at Americom Research, Julian pioneered the design and creation of one of the market research industry’s first fully interactive computer-aided interviewing suites.

Julian received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Middle Tennessee State University.

Gary Getto


A Pioneer in Measuring Across all Media Types

Gary has an extensive background in product development, strategic planning, and sales/marketing. He is a frequent speaker to the advertising, marketing, and public relations communities.

Gary is a pioneer in efforts to measure and analyze the combined impact of news coverage, social media, and advertising communications on key business metrics, such as sales or product preferences, with ground-breaking work linking communications activity to business outcomes. He was also one of the first to apply artificial intelligence to better understand how communications impacts consumer behavior.

As part of these pioneering integrated measurements, the need to benchmark every ad and build a comprehensive database of advertising performance metrics for evaluating all advertising creative became clear. Gary has been part of the ABX management group that developed the methodology, technology, and criteria for measuring advertising performance globally, and at scale, in an affordable manner. 

Now Gary and all ABX partners work with communications leaders across a diverse set of industries to expand that understanding by incorporating the first-ever Gender Equality Index™, creative measurement solutions for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out-of-country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit™, Gaming, Audio and more.

Gary holds a B.S., in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University and a Masters in Management Science from Stevens Institute of Technology.

J. J. Klein​

Chairman & CEO

Developing Valid and Reliable Information through Syndicated and Custom Research

JJ Klein has devoted his entire career to developing more valid and reliable information through syndicated and custom longitudinal research programs for Fortune 500 companies. This extensive knowledge base enabled him to create and develop ABX, which now offers the most accurate normative database for advertising effectiveness measurement in the marketplace.

JJ brings more than 35 years of marketing, research, consulting, and technology experience in designing and developing methodologies and programs for long-term growth. He has exceptional strength in domestic and international new business development, strategic planning, and identifying and tracking consumer, retail, and industry trends.

Leadership in Top Global Research Firms

Early in his career, after attending City University in New York as a math and science major, JJ joined Simmons Market Research Bureau as a Project Director. Over time, he rose to Associate Executive Vice President. Among his accomplishments, JJ created the first online interactive data analysis and delivery system for agencies, media, institutions, client, and service companies.  

JJ and Bill Simmons then founded a new venture …Three Sigma Research Center. It was here that JJ, Chief Operating Officer, created the first major syndicated rating system for Newspapers in the U.S., which later became the Scarborough Report. Three Sigma Research was eventually sold back to Simmons; Simmons sold it to Scarborough; and then Scarborough was acquired by Nielsen.

Following the sale of Three Sigma, JJ joined Audits & Surveys Worldwide as a principal leading the sales tracking and market share audits for a broad range of retail and service establishments both domestically and internationally. Following the acquisition of Audits & Surveys by GfK, JJ joined Roper Starch as Executive Director, reporting directly to the Chairman.

Creation and Development of Ocucom™ and ABX™

In 2004, as he continued his industry visionary travels, all of JJ’s experience came together as he tackled new solutions for market research in the Internet age. He and four partners founded Ocucom™ and invented a research-proven, respondent-oriented Ocular™ approach to internet sampling and multi-modal interviewing methodology. For the first time, respondents could answer text-based questions within a visual communication world where the computer screen was the interviewer/communicator. Inventions continued such as Ocucom’s PreCast™, the first long-form video viewing solution in the industry.

Also, during this time, JJ’s early leadership in internet research methodology caught the eye of top-tier global research competitors. He ended up designing methodologies for their online survey capabilities.

Then, in early 2012, he formed ABX™ as an outgrowth of Ocucom. JJ had conceived the idea for ABX some 15 years prior but had to wait for internet maturation and online panel/sampling companies to evolve. ABX partners focused on JJ’s ABX concept and methodology by building an infrastructure and a 5-year formative database before opening to the market in 2018. The new company offered the first high-quality Ocular research system for all ads in all media types with detailed, never-before analytics; the first syndicated, all-media type ad effectiveness platform; results in 24-to-48 hours on dashboard, and significantly lower costs. At ABX, as at Ocucom, inventions have continued such as the expansion of the ABX syndicated program into the first-ever global solution, and the first Gender Equality Index™. Solutions have expanded to include creative measurement for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out of country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit, Gaming, Audio, and more.

A Career Devoted to Validity and Reliability in Market Research

JJ’s background brings together an extremely unique blend of extensive experience in designing and developing global and regional longitudinal research programs. His accomplishments include the design and initiation of programs and methods that produce more valid and reliable information. They also include contributions to the market research profession through association membership, speaking, writing, and presenting.

Like Nielsen for TV, Arbitron for Radio, and MRI for Magazine, JJ’s original design for the newspaper program continues as the Scarborough Report ratings standard for Newspaper.  Today, JJ leads ABX as a syndicated and custom research service for ad effectiveness and gender equality, which have quickly become the gold standards of their own.

Angela Jeffrey, APR

Vice President, Brand Management

National Award-Winning Veteran of Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing

Angela is an internationally known speaker and national award-winning veteran of public relations, advertising and marketing.  She has been a teacher and leader in the use of metrics to measure communications impact for over 20 years, especially at the intersection of PR and Advertising.

Angela is primarily responsible for all ABX marketing efforts, and for projects that involve PR or social media measurement. She is the primary driver of our collaboration with the prestigious Institute for Public Relations as we develop methods to measure the impact of PR and social media on advertising effectiveness.

Prior to joining ABX, Angela was Strategy Director at Salience Insight, (now CARMA), a global provider of PR effectiveness measurement. Previously, she was a Vice President at Surveillance Data, Inc., an international analytics powerhouse that specializes in predictive modeling. Angela continued as a key leader upon the sale of her division to VMS and helped develop Vantage, with Gary Getto, the first platform to measure the combined impact of PR and Advertising.

Angela graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Journalism and BBA in Marketing.



Diane Light Waight

Vice President, Business Development

Diane Light Waight handles Sales, Business Development, and Marketing for ABX

Diane has 20+ years of experience helping Marketing, Advertising, and PR decision-makers at global brands, media companies, and agencies increase their ROI by connecting and authentically engaging their target customers through Sales, Business Development. MarTech, AdTech, Big Data, Market Research, SaaS, eCommerce, and Integrated Marketing.

She is passionate about her family, entertainment, health & wellness, empowering women, and environmental sustainability.