Sorting the winners, losers in Super Bowl commercial derby

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LOS ANGELES -- Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you know the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. But which automakers’ commercials won the battle for the most eyeballs?

That’s about as unclear as the game’s outcome during that frenzied final minute. Since the game, analysts and car shopping sites have been releasing a steady trickle of auto commercial reports. And when it comes to throwing numbers around -- well, let’s just say it didn’t end with the broadcasters on game day.

A look at some of the scorecards:

Hyundai and Kia scored highest in a tally by AutoTrader.com. The car shopping Web site measured a 1,004 percent increase in search activity for the Hyundai Santa Fe after the commercial ran. That means 11 times as many people searched for Hyundai’s family-hauling crossover on the site in the hour after Hyundai’s Santa Fe spot ran than in the hour before.

Next highest was the Kia Forte at 750 percent and the Kia Sorento at 521 percent. The average for vehicles/brands that advertised during the game: 245 percent.

Edmunds.com, meanwhile, said the Mercedes-Benz CLA was the clear winner. Edmunds says the CLA’s consideration rate, or the share of shoppers surfing Edmunds who looked at the CLA’s vehicle detail pages out of all Edmunds surfers looking at segment competitors, soared 5,813 percent for the full day on Sunday.

Edmunds got its figure by comparing game-day searches with the average searches of the four previous Sundays. The site doesn’t say how many people were checking out the CLA on Sundays in January, but you can bet the number probably wasn’t very high. The car goes on sale in September and has been marketed mainly through word of mouth and appearances at special events.

The CLA was even a no-show at the Detroit auto show. Instead, journalists were shown the car at a private event in downtown Detroit before the show last month.

So if anything, Edmunds’ data show that if you want people to know about your new car, spending nearly $8 million on a minute of Super Bowl airtime might not be a bad idea.

Edmunds says consideration for the Lincoln MKZ came in second, up 110 percent.

If the Holy Grail of Super Bowl advertising is getting viewers to think about buying a car, then Lincoln scored in the eyes of demand-analytics firm Autometrics. The firm said the MKZ’s “Phoenix” spot generated the most “low funnel prospects” of all auto commercials during the big game. The metric is basically a tally of online shoppers surfing more than 100 third-party auto sites who request a dealer price quote about a specific model.

Lincoln received 1,244 online contact requests in the 10 minutes after its “Phoenix” spot aired. For perspective, Lincoln received about 200 quote requests in the hour before the game, Autometrics CEO Stephen Shaw told me. Next was Kia, which received 1,174 price requests for its Sorento crossover in the 10 minutes after its “Space Babies” spot aired while Hyundai ranked third with 747 requests for its Santa Fe.

USA Today’s Ad Meter, the granddaddy of Super Bowl commercial scoring, said the top-scoring automotive commercial was Ram’s “Farmer” spot. It was also third-best of all Super Bowl advertisers. Jeep was the second-highest ranked automotive spot and fifth overall, followed by Kia’s “Space Babies” spot, Hyundai’s “Team” commercial and Audi’s “Prom” spot, giving the auto industry five of the newspaper’s overall top 10.

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter

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