This is your brain on Super Bowl ads

Bell Media and Brainsights partnered to measure the top ads and moments from Super Bowl 50.

According to brain-tracking responses from a Bell Media experiment with Toronto-based research firm Brainsights, a Canadian ad was the one that garnered the most attention during Super Bowl 50.

Neural measurement is a growing area of research for advertisers and publishers. Facebook, Google and other publishers have been working with neuromarketing firms to analyze how viewers react emotionally to different kinds of content.

For Super Bowl 50, Bell Media and Brainsights recorded the brain activity of 54 Canadian adults as they watched the Super Bowl. Brainsights used portable brain wave readers, or electroencephalograms for the experiment. Participants were measured in two pubs so as to capture their reactions in a natural viewing environment.

Electroencephalograms scan brain wave activity every two milliseconds, measuring brainwaves and yielding a score that includes attention and alertness, emotional connection and encoding to memory.

According to the results, 14 of the top 20 ads that aired during the broadcast were from advertisers that were exclusive to the Canadian broadcast. That’s good news for Bell Media and the NFL, who are currently appealing the CRTC’s incoming removal of simsub, which would see U.S. Super Bowl ads enter the country in 2017.

The commercial that sparked the highest levels of attention, emotional connection and memory retention, according to the Brainwaves research was Royale’s “Tiger Towel Food Truck.” The spot had a 37% higher score than the advertising average for the CTV broadcast.

“In the press you hear a lot about how the U.S. ads are so great, but the Canadian ads held their own,” said Kevin Keane, founder and CEO, Brainsights. “I think it’s really interesting that the top advertiser was a Canadian ad. All advertisers would gain from an effectiveness perspective if they created content specific to the market.”

Honda’s “Civic National Membership” spot was #2, Mazda’s “The Proposal” was #3, Beyoncé’s “The Formation Tour” was #4 and Ford “Undisputed” was #5.

The top three spots of the overall Super Bowl broadcast were specific to the game itself, led by NBA-star Steph Curry leading the Carolina Panthers onto the field at the start of the game.

The replay of the Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart’s over-the-top touchdown ranked as the #2 spot, while the longest punt return in Super Bowl history – once the Broncos’ Jordan Norwood caught the block that released him, was #3.

One surprise for Keane came during the half-time show. Despite the hype around Beyoncé’s performance, it was the first few seconds of “Uptown Funk” from Bruno Mars that sparked the highest reaction of the musical performances. Overall Mars’ performance drove 15% more engagement than Beyoncé’s.