Millions of people watch the NFL Super Bowl every year because they love American football. That’s why it’s consistently one of the highest-rated programs every year. Millions more watch it even though they don’t like football.

Those of the second kind watch primarily because of the ads. And why not? So many commercial campaigns have made the Super Bowl their ultimate showcase: from Apple’s 1984 commercial to the Budweiser “Bud Bowl” campaign, to the dot-com ads in 1999 and 2000, Super Bowl tradition has proved that the game is where high concept ads and extravagant, expensive commercials are often placed and broadcast.

It’s not just the people in advertising watching and talking about the Super Bowl ads. There’s a whole nation of armchair critics out there, eager to compare opinions with other armchair critics. That’s why Boston ad firm Mullen has partnered with social media monitoring company Radian6 in bringing the ultimate Twitter / Super Bowl experience, the Brand Bowl 2010.

Brand Bowl 2010 gauged public reaction to the brands advertising during the Super Bowl. By monitoring Twitter, it measured people’s opinions and ranked the brands accordingly. Brand Bowl’s page served as a kind of digital scoreboard that let Twitter users talk about the Super Bowl ads – as well as rank them. People tweeted directly from the page to praise and criticize the commercials as they were broadcast; they could also follow the tweets of everyone who were using the hashtag #brandbowl. Most importantly, Brand Bowl automatically computed – virtually in real-time – a composite ranking of the brands that ran on the game. This was done by measuring the brand mentions as well as the overall Net sentiment about the brand, as expressed in Twitter.

“Brands aren’t just what the ad makers say,” went the description on Brand Bowl’s homepage. “Brands are also what the public thinks. So we’re monitoring the Twittersphere.”

A quick update from Brand Bowl 2010: Focus on Family is in the lead, setting itself up for a date with the head cheerleader. In second place is the US Census Bureau, followed by Paramount and Audi. Budweiser is in eighth place, but given past Super Bowl appearances, no one should be surprised that it’s on the list.