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Who Took Home the 2020 Digital Bowl Trophy?

As the biggest game of the year ended with a comeback ‘W’ for Kansas City, it also brought the seventh edition of the Merkle Digital Bowl report. Our annual report provides a detailed assessment of how Super Bowl advertisers supported their TV commercials. Commercials this year cost as much as $5.6 million for 30-seconds of airtime, so it’s critical to amplify their reach with a comparatively inexpensive digital campaign.

In the report, each advertiser is evaluated based on its ability to meet specific and objective criteria across paid search, organic search, social media, and digital media. While the creative efforts largely influence how audiences respond, Merkle scores each brand’s efforts to extend engagement with a digital strategy in the competition for audience attention on the second screen.

So, who took home the 2020 trophy? This year’s winner is…TurboTax!

TurboTax hit us with a #W2Step to make a comeback from its 2016 Merkle Digital Bowl-winning performance and took home the Digital Bowl title for a second time. TurboTax unleashed a multi-channel campaign that finished with the top score in two channels (Digital Media and SEO), and narrowly missed the top score in a third (Social Media). TurboTax achieved this dominant performance by executing the fundamentals and fusing them with a few strokes of inspired creativity.

How They Did It

TurboTax dominated SEO by using a dedicated landing page featuring its commercial and YouTube videos to carve out its space in organic search. The brand also featured strong coverage across display, paid social, and video, but stood out with its hashtag challenge on TikTok, which garnered over 100 million views. In social, TurboTax scored a close second by concentrating efforts on TikTok and maintaining a regular Twitter presence, engaging with celebrities and other advertisers. While it fell outside the top ten in Paid Search, TurboTax by no means dropped the ball, receiving a solid score for its keyword coverage, ad copy, and engagement.

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Check out the full report here for more in-depth analysis of the top advertisers and how they ranked across channels. I will also be doing a webinar with the other team captains on February 6. Claim your spot for the webinar here.

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