Between the tackles and touchdowns of Super Bowl XLVIII, about 35 brands went head to head in a competition for consumer attention by airing highly anticipated commercials at $130,000 per second. Which brands won? It’s hard to tell: Bets were in well before Sunday, play-by-plays have been highlighted, trends analyzed, and commentators are still discussing them.

The truth is that the games have just begun. For consumers, the Super Bowl ad spectacle is part of the “discovery” phase — the first of four stages constituting Forrester’s customer life cycle — as commercials educate markets about a new product or momentarily make an impression on individuals. The resulting waves of social chatter now rippling across the Web amplify each brand’s capacity to be noticed.

Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that TV and word of mouth are among the leading channels for brand discovery. Therefore, those companies that capture consumers’ eyes and hearts both on air and online are gaining the most momentum. According to NetBase social listening data, Budweiser and Doritos generated the most positive social dialogue immediately following the big game, while Coca-Cola received the wrong kind of attention:



Recent ads may be top of mind, but those brands that seemed to score big last Sunday still have a long road ahead. True value will emerge when these brands accelerate viewers beyond the “discovery” phase by inspiring consumer research and purchase and, ultimately, establishing a genuine relationship with their audience. In her recent report, my colleague Cory Munchbach says that marketers today “must have fully mapped life cycles for target consumers to best match marketing content and offers to facilitate the move from phase to phase.” Those Super Bowl ads deemed victorious by consumers and industry analysts alike haven’t quite yet won — but they’ve reached their first down. With the “explore,” “purchase,” and “engage” phases still ahead, these brands have to follow through before we see a real touchdown.