Take Your Pick: One Super Bowl Ad Spot … or 14 Billion Facebook Ad Impressions

Super Bowl Ad Cost


This year a single 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl TV broadcast will cost a cool $4 million.

And that’s just for the placement alone — not the dollars that go into producing the ad.

The high cost of advertising is directly related to Super Bowl viewership, of course, which is predicted to be north of 100 million people this year.

Still, $4 million is a really hefty sum, even for major brand advertisers.  Just how big is underscored in some comparative figures put together by Jack Marshall, a reporter at marketing e-zine Digiday.

Jack Marshall
Digiday’s Jack Marshall

In lieu of spending $4 million on a single ad spot, here’s how Marshall reported that the promotional money could be spent in alternative ways:

  • 14 billion Facebook Ad Impressions – According to digital marketing software firm Kenshoo, right-hand column “marketplace” ads on Facebook averaged 27 cents per thousand impressions during 2013.  This means that for $4 million, an advertiser could run a Facebook marketplace ad every second of every day for the next 469 years.
  • 3 billion Banner Ad Impressions – In 2013, average online display ad CPMs were running just shy of $1.30, looking globally.  Applying that figure to the U.S. market translates into 3 billion display ad impressions for your $4 million spend.
  • 160 million Sponsored Content Views – The typical charge is ~$25 to distribute sponsored content to 1,000 readers.  At that rate, $4 million would give you 160 million impressions (provided a publisher could actually deliver that many!).
  • 10.8 million Paid Search Clicks – With an overall average cost-per-click of 37 cents in 2013, $4 million would cover just shy of 11 million clicks.  That may be one-tenth the size of the Super Bowl viewing audience … but at least your audience would be actually searching for your product or service instead of heading to the kitchen for more corn chips and queso dip.

These are just some of the comparative figures outlined by Jack Marshall in his article.  You can read the others here.

When it comes to advertising … the Super Bowl is supreme.

Super Bowl XLVISuper Bowl ad placements have the reputation of being the most pricey ones on television. And based on an analysis by Kantar Media of Super Bowl ad activity over the past decade, that perception is quite accurate.

According to Kantar’s analysis, over the last ten years the Super Bowl game has generated more than $1.7 billion in network ad sales from more than ~125 companies.

Just five Super Bowl advertisers account for more than one-third of the activity, led by – no surprise here – Anheuser-Busch:

Anheuser-Busch: 10-year advertiser … ~$239 million
 PepsiCo: 10 years … ~$174 million
 General Motors: 8 years … ~$83 million
 Disney: 10 years … ~$74 million
 Coca Cola: 5 years … ~$67 million

It doesn’t seem that long ago when the rule of thumb was that a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl game would set you back one million dollars.

That’s not the case any longer. In fact, the average rate for a :30 ad increased by ~40% over the past decade, reaching $3.1 million in 2011.

[And for 2012, the ad rate is expected to be even higher at $3.5 to $4 million per spot — a double-digit increase.]

At such stratospheric prices, you’d expect only a handful of ads to be longer than 30 seconds. That’s true to a degree; only about one in five of the Super Bowl ads are :60 spots. But compare that to just ~6% of ads on broadcast networks being long-form.

And if it seems as if you’re seeing more advertising during the Super Bowl game than in years past … you’re not hallucinating. Back in 2006, the volume of commercial time for ads during the game was ~44 minutes. That rose to ~46 minutes as of 2011, and will probably continue to creep upward in 2012 and beyond.

Most Super Bowl advertisers are big consumer brands. But Kantar also finds that nearly one-third of Super Bowl advertisers allocate more than 10% of their annual media budgets into the game. Clearly, it’s not only the big Hollywood film studios, car companies or food brands that are shelling out the bucks for the Super Bowl.

Kantar Media also compared advertising volume for the Big Game against the dollar volume of ads placed during other major televised sports events, such as the Baseball World Series and the NCAA Final Four Mens Basketball. In nearly every year, the one-day Super Bowl out-pulled these multi-day sporting events when it comes to raking in the ad dollars.

To sum things up, even in the world of advertising where the only constant is change … some things don’t change all that much.