Super Bowl commercials this year were released to the public before the game—something that would have traditionally never happened because advertisers lose the element of surprise. But the world has changed and marketers have good reason to take a new approach. With the average 30-second ad going for about $4 million, the smart plan is to get the most bang for the buck.

When the commercials aired, they had over 100 million viewers, who watched what became a tight 34-31 game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, a high-energy half-time show from Beyoncé and a crazy power outage that halted the game for over half an hour. 

Some of the ads, however, were placed on YouTube and had millions of views before the kickoff. By using YouTube, in fact, some advertisers were able to attract more viewers before and after the game, than they did during the game, as people who viewed the commercials on the Internet shared them with friends.

That's one of the great things about social media.

2013 Winners
This year, it seemed no single commercial blew the competition away, although there were some standouts:
• Doritos’ “Fashionista Dad” (with a little girl getting a bunch of grown men to play dress up).
• Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” (with a group of nursing home residents partying through the night with Fun’s Grammy-winning song of the year “We Are Young” playing in the background).
• Volkswagen’s “Get In, Get Happy” (with a business man that has a Jamaican accent cheering up co-workers).
• Tide’s “Miracle Stain” (with a salsa spill that looks like Joe Montana).
• M&Ms’ “I’ll Do Anything” (with the candy singing “But I won’t do that” as it is about to get eaten).

Each of these ads was humorous, and when it comes to online sharing, humor is often the biggest driver of viral-marketing success.

There were two other standouts that were more heart-warming than humorous:
• Chrysler’s ad for Ram pickups trucks called “Farmer” (with a homage to famers from deceased radio broadcaster Paul Harvey).
• Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” (featuring a horse trainer being reunited with his Clydesdale).

One ad that was seen as terrible by many viewers:
• GoDaddy’s “Perfect Match” ad (with super model, Bar Rafaeli, kissing a nerd in a way-too-close and too-long close up, illustrating how the domain and Web hosting company marries "smart" and "sexy.")

While some people thought the GoDaddy commercial was offensive, it illustrated how a controversial ad can create a lot of free advertising in the form of news coverage. The commercial was a topic of discussion in the media in the days following the game. The nerdy kid, for example, was interviewed on multiple shows explaining what it was like to kiss a super model.

Even banned ads that are not allowed to run on TV received press and many online views, which serves as proof that traditional marketing is shifting.