Advertisers spent three-and-a-half million dollars for each 30-second commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, but many of them weren’t new to viewers. Marketing students from the University of Iowa gathered to watch the game — and the ads.

Sara Mouw, a U-of-I graduate student in marketing, says many of the ads were on-line before they were on TV during the big game. “Social media is starting to play a big role in it,” Mouw says. “The brands kind of want to promote their brands prior to it.” Advertisers are releasing commercials before game day on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The technique may be risky as it could keep more than half of the Super Bowl’s viewers from tuning in to just watch the ads, since they’ve already seen them. “The ads will be a little less shocking, because people have seen part of them,” said Mouw. “They won’t be so surprised or maybe the humor is gone a little bit, too.”

Some students say putting an ad out early isn’t a total game-changer. Ben Van Someren, who’s also in the U-of-I’s graduate program, says the spot will still hit its mark with the audience, as long as the commercial gets to the point and leaves a lasting impression.

“There’s three key things that an advertiser should do,” Van Someren says. “That’s brand recognition, memorability, and then, did you get the message?” Each year, the students rank the commercials based on several criteria putting the ads in categories, including: funny, boring, memorable, and “What was that brand again?”

One ad demonstrated how a car’s headlights were so bright, they could vaporize vampires as if it were daylight. U-of-I graduate assistant Pat Downes says that commercial had humor, it was fast-paced and still focused on the Audi’s L-E-D headlights.

“That’s brand recognition for them,” Downes said, “so they really hit right on that. I thought it was really interesting and entertaining. Lots of people in here were laughing during that.”

The group ranked their overall favorites as: The M&M’s “Naked” ad, the Honda CRV ad with Matthew Broderick and the Chevy “Graduation Gift” ad.

By Jillian Petrus, KCRG, Cedar Rapids