If social data can predict sales, can it predict the Super Bowl winner?

Networked Insights has applied our technology to social data to successfully predict sales for multiple clients.  So, caught up in Super Bowl fever like everyone else, we decided to see if we could use this same combination of data and analytics to predict the winner of Super Bowl 48.

Here’s what we found.

The volume of social conversation has obviously increased tremendously—the Super Bowl gathers a significant social “buzz.” But is the raw social conversation regarding a team a true predictor of the winner? Not always. At Networked Insights, we believe there is more to it, and social buzz for a team is not an adequate indicator of who will win the game. As with the use of social data for making marketing decisions, it takes a more sophisticated approach.

Networked Insights has the capability to screen football conversations based on whether they reflect the audience’s opinion of the team’s ability to win the next game versus those that reflect just the “buzz” about the team. We use our proprietary technology to sift through Twitter, Blogs and Forums to find only those conversations that are addressing who will win the game by tracking the language of the individual post. We include posts with wording such as “will win” and eliminate those with language such as “I am a big fan.”  In order to use social data to predict the winner, we also include the number of “Likes” on the Facebook page of the team to normalize the data.

To validate our approach—as we have to predict sales and advance marketing mix modeling for numerous customers—Networked Insights looked back to this year’s playoff games. Our approach proved correct 70% of the time. In 7 out of the 10 playoff games, Networked Insights’ prediction matched the actual result of the game. In 2 of the 3 games in which Networked Insights’ prediction fell short, there were very tight spreads and the third was between the Colts and Patriots. The Patriots have a huge number of Facebook fans, which skewed the data and thus the prediction.

In the past few days, we have been constantly tracking the conversation for the big game and are noticing some interesting trends. The Seahawks were favorites until Floyd Mayweather made a big announcement about betting more than ten million dollars on the Broncos. After the announcement, the conversation spiked for the Broncos as fans shared the excitement by retweeting the news.

The chart below shows the conversation trends for both the teams.

oneThe following chart depicts the conversation trend eliminating Floyd Mayweather’s announcement.


cumulative growth superbowl conversations

With a few more days left before the big game, let’s see which way the wind will blow and the data will shift.

Beyond football, the other big competition this Sunday will be between brand advertisers. To have some fun and further illustrate the power of social data to brands, Networked Insights created a real-time Brand Tracker. It’s a fun way for anyone to track consumer reaction to the brands and ads involved with this Sunday’s Big Game, in real time.  Click on this link to see the Tracker. It has 2013 data now, but will go live just before the game.

Essentially, the Tracker shows in real time which ads and brands are getting the most people talking.

There seems to be no end to the questions we can answer with social data and the right technology!

Enjoy the game.

Ridhima Jain contributed to this article