Costs & Profits of Super Bowl Ads

Posted on February 28, 2016 by Media Culture

Marketers and sports fans alike wait each year with bated breath for the airing of the Super Bowl.

For sports fans, it’s all about the clash of titans – but for marketers, it’s a very different thing. It’s not that marketing experts can’t be NFL fans, but the Super Bowl gives us a very unique opportunity to express a side of our brands that are often unseen.

Since 1984, when Apple first announced the launch of the Macintosh computer using a 60 second spot that was more like a movie than an advertisement, Super Bowl advertising has become a “go big or go home” proposition. And every year brands seem to go bigger and bigger.

The question that we all ask afterward is “was it worth it?” Brands that are perennial Super Bowl advertising customers clearly believe they’re reaping some kind of benefit from these well-placed ads – after all, viewers are actually eager to see their commercials. This year’s 111.9 million viewers made Super Bowl 50 the third-most-watched television show in the history of U.S. broadcasting, creating a lot of potential for those Super Bowl ads to turn heads.

How much are Super Bowl ads?

Super Bowl commercials are priced much like any other television slot, viewership and advertiser demand definitely play a significant role in the end cost.

On top of the $5 million an advertiser is expected to pay for a 30-second slot, there are the production costs of what is now expected to be an almost movie-quality commercial. So, ultimately, a Super Bowl ad can end up costing many millions of dollars, but since they’re almost entirely done for the sake of brand marketing, a resulting uptick in business is difficult to gauge.

However, companies with their sights set on Super Bowl prestige don’t just do it for raw marketing power. Super Bowl ads show the world that you’re a brand to know, a brand to follow and a brand to trust. A good Super Bowl ad can also earn your brand significant social shares or even go viral, increasing your social media influence. A bad advertisement might have the same effect, but for very different reasons.

Good or bad, though, impactful Super Bowl ads are the ones that are getting talked about. What a marketer can’t afford is an ad that completely fails to deliver. Because the Super Bowl is also sort of a Super Bowl of marketing, the competition is fierce – the commercials have to be memorable for them to pay off in the long run. An ad that doesn’t give viewers something, for better or worse, won’t be a profitable one.

Dollars & cents in a Post-Super Bowl climate

Because Super Bowl ads are geared more toward brand awareness than being a direct influence on sales figures, it can be very hard to judge exactly how much they’ve influenced viewers. However, companies like Fluent, Inc., have attempted to determine just how much brand awareness increases for new brands after a Super Bowl ad.

Last year’s figures demonstrated how wide the range really is – new brands saw results ranging from increasing brand awareness by 36.5 percent to decreasing brand awareness by 5.1 percent. Obviously, just placing an advertisement during the Super Bowl doesn’t guarantee success. Even so, most new brands were boosted at least slightly. had one of the lowest increases in brand awareness, at just 8.7 percent, but it returned for Super Bowl 50 because the DIY website company felt its brand awareness was boosted significantly enough by its millions of dollars spent in advertising during the big game. In fact, shortly after its spot aired, Wix announced it was increasing its revenue outlook from $198 to $202 million to $200 to $204 million for 2015.

“We did pretty good in terms of the amount of money we got back from the campaign we did. It gave us great confidence in doing it again,” Chief Marketing Officer Omer Shai told Fortune in a pre-Super Bowl 50 interview.


The biggest football game of the year

The Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year, for football fans and marketers, too. Even though a Super Bowl advertising campaign might not pay immediately in hard dollars and cents, if a business can afford to produce one of these stellar spots, they stand to earn new customers and build awareness on a scale unmatched by other outlets.

For more information on the costs of producing and airing and TV commercial, see How Much Does It Cost To Make A Commercial?

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