Super Bowl advertisers ‘are on trial’

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — For companies like T-Mobile, TurboTax, Esurance and, Sunday night is a $4.5 million moment.

Months of planning and weeks of promotion are culminating in Super Bowl ads premiering in front of more than 100 million viewers — and those viewers are delivering their verdicts via the Internet within seconds.

“Advertisers are on trial via social media,” said media strategist Shari Anne Brill, a former executive at the ad agency Carat.

One ad right before kickoff that drew immediate commentary: a spot by Chevrolet about the wireless Internet capabilities of its Colorado trucks.

“Chevy trucks advertising 4G LTE instead of driving through gratuitous mud. The world has truly gone tech,” Mashable chief strategy officer Adam Ostrow wrote on Twitter.

The all-important first ad position after kick-off belonged to Toyota, which had a feel-good ad starring Paralympic athlete Amy Purdy.

A few minutes later, commenters on Twitter were surprised by an ad for a mobile game called “Game of War.”

The game’s creator, Machine Zone Inc., isn’t alone — mobile developer UCool is expected to have an ad promoting its game “Heroes Charge” later on Sunday.

Paying an average of $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time, advertisers face extraordinarily high stakes. And that’s just the price paid to NBC — companies pay huge amounts of money to get the ads produced.

Some advertisers have tried to capitalize by releasing their ads days ahead of time, and promoting them with YouTube teasers, Facebook messages and tweets. Others kept their ads under wraps until game time, hoping that would help them stand out.

“Puppies, laughs, celebrities, sex and family values continue to drive advertising creatives,” said Sean Muller, the CEO of Visible Measures, which keeps track of online views of Super Bowl ads.

What’s different this year, he said, is “the volume of pre-releases/teasers.”

Muller said some advertisers are using Facebook’s relatively new video features to get attention, and it’s “driving up viewing and social activity significantly.”

But “the volume of views and activity on Facebook appears to be an additive, meaning it’s not taking away from activity on other platforms,” like YouTube, Muller said.

“And secondly, some brands aren’t utilizing it yet — I suspect that will change next year.”

Sunday’s game was expected to feature 15 first-time Super Bowl advertisers.

“If you would have told me 10 years ago that Chevy wouldn’t be in the Super Bowl, but that or Dove products for men would be, I’d be very surprised,” Richard Kirshenbaum, the CEO of ad agency NSG/SWAT, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“But there’s a new lineup. There’s a new America,” he added.

Super Bowl regulars like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and BMW will be present, too.

Coca-Cola has a 60-second ad rebuking Internet “haters” that won’t be seen until the game. But the company has already released clips with stars like Danica Patrick, Michael Sam and Robby Novak, better known as Kid President.

A Coke representative said the ad is “intended to disrupt the complacency that’s set in around online negativity” — something that anyone who’s spent time on Facebook or Twitter knows about.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking ad of the game will be the one commissioned by the NFL for its “No More” initiative, intended to stop domestic violence and sexual assault.

“The spot, which features a woman calling 911 and pretending to order a pizza because her husband is in the room, is based on a real 911 call,” said the ad blog Spot Bowl, which called it a “game-changer.”

It said the NFL was giving over “some of the airtime it normally reserves for light-hearted self promos” for the PSA.