Deutsch LA measures the volume of Big Game audiences
LOS ANGELES – Ever notice how some people say “Quiet down, the ads are on” during the Big Game? In Deutsch LA’s first Sounds of the Game Study, the advertising agency used decibel meters to see if people really did quiet down for the ads—and what made them get loud. They measured every second of the crowd’s response to Sunday’s Big Game in ten crowded sports bars.
Deutsch LA placed professional-grade decibel meters in 5 bars each in Chicago and Los Angeles, collecting 5 data points for each second at each bar. That’s more than 720,000 data points throughout the matchup between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The attached chart shows how ambient noise levels went up and down throughout the game.
Do people quiet down for the ads?
As an agency, we wanted to know if people quiet down to pay attention to the Big Game commercials? They do: on average, Big Game party crowds lowered their volume by one decibel for the ads, a statistically significant amount. “When people say, ‘Shhh, the ads are on!’ there really is a measurable decrease in crowd noise,” says Kyle Acquistapace, Director of Media & Data Strategy at Deutsch LA.
But crowd noise only drops a bit. The audience noise hovered around 85 decibels—roughly as loud as a lawnmower. “This should factor into creative development,” Acquistapace says. “Big Game spots–at least in bars–have some serious sonic competition.”
The ad breaks with the loudest ambient crowd noise came after notable points in the game, including the game’s end and the second New England touchdown.
Fans don’t immediately quiet down when the first ad starts, especially if there’s latent buzz from the game. While the first commercial spot in an ad pod remains a coveted position, ads in the second position appear to have potential “insulation” from residual crowd noise from the game.
When the game gets loud
As the beers and the points add up, fans get louder. We thought that could make the fourth quarter much louder, and possibly a more challenging environment for commercials. Yes, the fourth quarter was louder—but not the complete din that we expected:
By contrast, the point of the game with the lowest crowd noise was the first-quarter safety. Because the officials didn’t rule the points until well after the play was completed, there was a measurable stunned silence from audiences.The fourth quarter did exhibit the biggest swings in ambient sound, but this was simply due to an exciting game: the fourth quarter was home to a Giants walk-in touchdown and the Patriots final-seconds hail-Mary – adding up to a 102.1 decibel peak in cheers (or groans) from fans. Tom Brady’s interception in the third quarter was another high point.
Crowd noise grew throughout halftime, as well, but dropped abruptly after Madonna’s halftime show—presumably as people scattered a bit for drinks & food before the game started.
Finally, agency staffers from Chicago suggested that their hometown sports fans might be louder than those in our Los Angeles study. Well, the Chicago bars were almost 3 decibels louder than the LA bars, and the Windy City was home to the single loudest bar in the study.
Want the full study? Email [email protected]