Every year about this time, the world watches the Super Bowl to find out which one really is the best.

And, of course, they also watch a football game.

On Super Sunday, there will be two parallel competitions going on — the guys in knickers with a ball, and the ads sliced in between the game.

Many methods have been devised to predict who will win the football part. Networked Insights, a Chicago-based consumer analytics firm, has let VentureBeat in on its predictions for the winner of this year’s Ad Bowl.

Many of the ads are released on the web before the game. Through Jan. 28, there were 19 online. Most are the full ads, while some are “to be continued” samplers. About 40 brands will air ads during the Bowl, according to Networked Insights vice president of analytics Jaime Brugueras. Some brands air more than one.

Networked Insights looks to see which ad will generate the greatest increase in positive social media conversations. To do so, it tracks both the percentage of volume increase and the lift in positive sentiment in the two weeks leading up to the game. Then they rank them.

The company says it sifts over half a billion posts each day, and classifies each post with one of 43 different emotions. The emotions that count most as being “positive” are Desire, Love, Success, and Happiness. Only posts that directly reference one of the pregame online ads goes into this ranking.

One already released ad — GoDaddy’s controversial puppy spoof ad — was supposedly set to air, but it was pulled due to negative backlash to the idea of selling puppies. But, since it was released online, Networked Insights kept it in the list, describing it as “the most talked-about ad this season.”

Here, then, are Networked Insights pregame predictions of how these ads will fare on social media through Sunday night, along with links to each ad. The eventual on-air versions of these ads may differ, but Networked Insights says the results should be the same if the differences are minor.

The top two:

  • No 1. Budweiser and Bud Light: “With the new ‘Lost Dog’ ad and GoDaddy’s #nodaddy negative comments raising social volume, Budweiser is all set to win the brand war again this year … Budweiser’s ‘Lost Dog’ commercial elicits Happiness, Love and Hope. Consumers also feel a bit Sad for the lost dog.”

Social posts about the Puppy ad, experessing (left to right) Happiness, Desire, and Love.

Above: Social posts about the Puppy ad, expressing (left to right) Happiness, Desire, and Love

Image Credit: Networked Insights
  • #2. Skittles: “[This] first time entry into the Super Bowl is already getting a lot of conversation. The ad featuring how Skittles settles differences is bringing consumers together over their love for the ad.”

The others, in predicted order:

Brugueras told me that last year’s pregame effort, his company’s first, nailed the final top three and the bottom three social rankings of the ads in the pregame prediction. The ones in the middle, he said, were not exactly ranked but were close to the final ordering.

Does the ranking mean anything?

If last year’s ranking is any indication, it does — bigtime.

After the game was over last year and the final social media rankings of all the aired ads were determined, Networked Insights was able to find sales figures — online and offline — for 10 of the brands.

Brugueras said the sales ranking, which showed which brands had the biggest increase in post-game sales, exactly matched the post-game positive social media rankings for those 10. Seven of those 10 had released pregame ads online.

“What we’ve seen,” Brugueras said, “is that the positive lift in social is directly correlated to a lift in sales.”

If he were advising an ad agency, what kind of ad would Brugueras recommend it make to create a big positive buzz online?

His answer will not surprise the Mad Men (or women) of the advertising world.

Focus on creating “the ones that bring love, desire, happiness,” he said. “Go with the heart. I wouldn’t go for funny.”-

“And, of course, animals always help.”

Check back early next week, when we’ll see how well Networked Insights predicted the Ad Bowl winners.