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Who Won the Social Super Bowl?

This story originally appeared on CNBC

This was the most social Super Bowl ever. That's despite the fact that just half of ads featured hastags—down from about 57 percent last year. Advertisers now know they don't need hashtags to drive social conversation.

While hashtags can be used in Facebook, they're without a doubt synonymous with Twitter.

Those 33 ads which included hashtags surely drove the Twitter conversation, even though only three ads actually featured the Twitter logo. The microblogging site reports 28.4 million game-related tweets during the big event. Check out this amazing interactive map showing the flow of conversation.

But Facebook's total numbers dwarf Twitter's. Facebook reported that more than 65 million people joined the conversation during the big game—15 million more than last year—posting, commenting and liking 265 million times. 

The question of whether Facebook or Twitter benefited more from chatter about the Super Bowl comes down to debate about the value of public versus private conversation. Facebook's conversations are traditionally private, among friends, though the social giant is encouraging its users to participate more in public conversation, as they do on Twitter. And the push to get people to follow more public figures, and teams, is part of that. 

In contrast, Twitter is designed as a public forum for people to interact with and follow public figures from around the world. Now that both Facebook and Twitter are pushing their own video players–in an effort to expand video engagement and ad dollars—it would be interesting to see how many ads or videos were watched on each platform during the game. Unfortunately neither company revealed such a statistic.

Facebook and Twitter weren't the only two platforms in the spotlight: Score one point for Snapchat. Last year Instagram was the new social network drawing a mention during a Super Bowl ad. This year it's Snapchat—mentioned at the end of the trailer for "Pitch Perfect 2."

As for which brand won the social chatter—Budweiser was the most talked about, with its puppy ad viewed 42 million times before the game even started. According to Salesforce, 78 percent of mentions during the game were positive.

The "Lost Dog" commercial was shared 2.2 million times across Facebook, Twitter and blogs, according to video ad tech company Unruly, making it the most-shared Super Bowl ad of the year, and the fourth-most shared of all time.

In fact, all the most-mentioned brands drew largely positive comments, with the sole exception of Nationwide. Its controversial ad voiced by a dead child drew harsh criticism for being too serious in the normally upbeat game. Salesforce reports that 77 percent of mentions of the insurer were negative.

Perhaps the biggest win from all the social chatter about ads: YouTube. Despite the fact that advertisers started in earnest this year to embed spots on Facebook and Twitter, YouTube is still the ultimate destination for watching ads.

YouTube reports that people have spent nearly 4 million hours watching game-day ads and teaser videos on the platform, up from 2.2 million hours at the same time last year. Budweiser has the top spot in top-trending ads on YouTube with its "Lost Dog" spot, followed by Bud Light with its "Real Life PacMan" commercial.

Julia Boorstin

Written By

Julia Boorstin joined CNBC in May 2006 as a general assignment reporter. In December 2006, Boorstin became CNBC's media and entertainment reporter working from CNBC's Los Angeles Bureau. Boorstin covers media with a special focus on the intersection of media and technology.