Football fans were glued to their TV sets on Super Bowl Sunday, and automakers took advantage.

Auto brands make an impression on Super Bowl-watching public

By: Abby Hayes, February 10, 2016

Super Bowl 50 promised to be a ratings bonanza, and it delivered, becoming the third-most watched television event in recorded history. While the game itself wasn't as exciting as NFL championships of recent past, several commercials proved to be quite memorable, the automotive ones, especially.

Over the three-plus hour game, approximately 60 all-new commercials aired. Many of the advertisers were car brands, including Audi, Kia and Hyundai. German luxury automaker Audi's 30-second spot resonated with the football-watching public. Online traffic for the automaker's R8 soared nearly 7,800 percent at the website of vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book. According to KBB's count, the R8 was the most-advertised model over the course of the game.

Kia searches rose by almost 500 percent
In a distant second to Audi's surge in online search traffic was Kia, marketing its redesigned Optima. Inquiries at KBB's website rose by close to 500 percent. Rounding out the top three was Hyundai and its all-new Genesis. The 60-second spot, featuring funny man Kevin Hart, helped push consumer traffic at the vehicle valuation destination up 400 percent.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said that Audi was the hands down winner because not only did buyers inquire about the R8, but other models it produces.

"Audi also won at the brand level," Brauer explained, "with a 448 percent spike, followed by MINI and Kia. The Jeep brand also scored high among car shoppers (up 99 percent) with its two heritage-focused ads celebrating the brand's 75-year anniversary."

Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at vehicle information website Edmunds, indicated that Super Bowl viewers had their smartphones handy, many looking up extended car warranty quotes online when vehicles were shown on screen.

"Once again, the Super Bowl proved to have a huge impact with viewers, who immediately turned to their computers and mobile devices to learn more about these vehicles and brands," Caldwell said. "The game especially delivers as a compelling platform to spark interest in the most exciting vehicles in a brand's lineup."

New-car prices expected to moderate
While auto warranty estimates typically aren't affected by supply and demand, car prices can be. Though consumer interest was stoked by advertisers, new-car prices are expected to slow as the year progresses, according to a recent projection from affordability index firm Requisite Press. Phil Kelton, president of Requisite Press, said this trend should provide new-car buyers with an opportunity to buy on a budget.