February 20, 2024

by Nicole Montgomery and Kevin Synnott

4 min read

This year's Super Bowl shattered records, becoming not only the longest game in history but also the most watched, largely driven by the magnetic draw of Taylor Swift's attendance. This unprecedented surge in viewership, amplified by the star's presence, has heralded a new era in digital advertising. In our pre-Super Bowl analysis, we unpacked how the event elevates advertising costs, especially on platforms like TikTok and X, and its ability to dominate conversations well into the following day. In this post-game breakdown, we delve into the wider consequences of this year's record-breaking game for the digital advertising sphere, spotlighting shifts in strategy and audience engagement.

This spike in Super Bowl viewership this year, particularly marked by an increase in female viewers due to the "Taylor Swift effect," led us to explore its influence on the gender demographics of social media ad viewers. Utilizing three years' worth of Meta's comprehensive post-impression analytics, seamlessly integrated into Tracer, we analyzed over 50 million daily impressions. The goal of this in-depth analysis was to investigate how shifts in Super Bowl viewership affect the gender composition of those exposed to social media ads around the time of the big game.


Our analysis of data from the last three years (2022, 2023, and 2024) reveals a notable trend: the percentage of ad impressions served to females increases in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, starting from four days prior (SB - 4), reaching its zenith on Super Bowl Sunday. This pattern is consistent across three consecutive years and illustrates a significant shift in digital advertising behavior during this key period. The surge in ad impressions for females on Super Bowl Sunday may be attributed to a notable decrease in male engagement on mobile devices, likely as they turn their full attention to the game.

In a surprising twist for 2024, despite women comprising 47.5 percent of the total Super Bowl audience [1]—the highest proportion ever recorded—the percentage of ad impressions served to female viewers on Meta platforms dropped, marking the lowest in the observed three-year span. This pivotal shift suggests a dramatic change in behavior: female viewers, traditionally more active on social media during the event, appear to have diverted their attention more towards the live game itself rather than engaging with content on their mobile devices. This observation not only underscores the growing interest and engagement of women in the Super Bowl but also challenges advertisers to rethink how and when they target female audiences during such major events, highlighting the need for adaptive strategies that reflect the evolving dynamics of viewer attention.

For advertisers, these insights underscore a vital need to refine their strategies, particularly for events like the Super Bowl, which have traditionally attracted predominantly male viewership. Beyond merely targeting women more effectively, there's a crucial demand for advertisements to portray women accurately and authentically. Recent findings from the SeeHer research [2] illuminate a considerable gap in the industry's efforts: only 26% of advertisements are making strides towards inclusivity and a mere 16% of women feeling accurately represented in the media. This discrepancy highlights a significant opportunity for change.

To bridge this gap, advertisers must not only adjust their strategies to align with shifting viewer demographics but also deepen their commitment to authenticity and diversity in their representations. This approach transcends mere cultural and social responsiveness; it is a critical priority. As women's engagement with traditionally male-dominated events, such as the Super Bowl, continues to grow, the opportunity for advertisers to forge meaningful connections with this audience hinges on their ability to move beyond stereotypical portrayals. Instead, they should strive to deliver content that authentically resonates with the real and varied experiences and perspectives of women. The evolving dynamics of Super Bowl viewership thus offer a unique opportunity to pioneer advertising that genuinely reflects the diversity of its audience, fostering a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of women in the media.

Moreover, embracing these strategies can lead to deeper, more meaningful engagement with female audiences, particularly during high-visibility events like the Super Bowl. Developing advertising that genuinely reflects the diversity of its viewers, not only responds to the demand for more inclusive and accurate portrayals but also establishes new benchmarks for authenticity in advertising. This shift is not simply a reaction to changing viewer demographics; it is a strategic imperative that acknowledges the significant role of representation in shaping brand perception and fostering loyalty among women.

[1] - https://nypost.com/2024/02/13/sports/taylor-swift-contributes-to-record-womens-super-bowl-ratings/

[2] - https://www.seeher.com/insights-and-tools/research/