Money Moves: Super Bowl ad revenue

How much are Super Bowl ads worth?

~Matthew Scherger, BreakingCNU Editor~

~Michael Innacelli, CNUTV Managing Editor & Sports Editor

“How much money does CBS make on the ads from the Super Bowl?” I feel like I ask that every year around this time.

It really is incredible how much money it costs for a simple 30 second slot in the Super Bowl. 

Especially when some of the ads are duds.

I always find that the figures are mind boggling. This year several sources, even CBS themselves, are reporting between $5.1 and $5.3 million per 30 second ad.

Think about that for just a moment. That is a lot of money, right? What is the upside to spending all this money on just one ad? 

The answer is, of course, views on your ads. Some people tune in to the Super Bowl just to watch the ads.

This year, as reported by CBS and Roku, there were roughly 100 million people watching Sunday night as the Rams fell to the Patriots. That’s 100 million sets of eyes on your ad.

Is that worth the money?

That is the big question of the day. $5.3 million for 100 million people to see your ad. Is that a profitable margin for the companies?

It’s impossible to truly calculate how much money each ad generates for the product or company involved. It stands to reason, however, that a good Super Bowl ad gets the company or product involved publicity and sales.

In this day in age publicity is everything. This year the ads were a bit underwhelming and for the price they might not have actually been worth it.

In previous years the ads on the Super Bowl have been the talk of the nation. When the lights went out a few years back Oreos came with a great ad almost instantly; “You can still dunk in the dark.”

Marketing and Communication classes talk about this ad as being effective, quick and above all funny. People shared this ad on Facebook long after the Super Bowl ended.

The deal breaker on this kind of ad, was due to it being a social media ad, it cost nothing for Oreos, and it made no money for CBS.

Clearly that is a better deal for Oreos than spending $5+ million on a 30 second promotional ad.

The downside of this kind of ad is that it is very much a hit or miss advertisement. That brings up the question of which is a safer option for the company?

On the one hand, you have a $5.3 million investment, but you know 100 million people will see it. 

On the other hand, you have a free, easily created advertisement, but you won’t know how many people will see it until you post the ad.

That’s the key to why companies spend so much money on Super Bowl ads, it is a guaranteed viewership. Really that’s why Super Bowl ads will continue for the time being.

There isn’t really an answer to when more companies will start promoting on social media for free during the Super Bowl, but it is an interesting market shift to think about.

All of this is to talk about internet vs. television, but what about both?

Many companies post their ads from the Super Bowl onto Youtube after they air.

These days you can even watch the Super Bowl on Youtube so the argument for television and internet ads being used together is stronger.

It’s such a large market that Youtube even markets and advertises for the ads themselves.

Does that offset the cost a bit more? Probably, but it might not be enough to stop the trend of moving to social media for ads.

The issue boils down to it being nearly impossible to predict what will trend on the internet.

 Some ads might do great while others will flop. At least on television the ads that flop are still seen. On the internet ads that flop won’t be shared and won’t get viewers.

What really defines a safe investment then? There is no good answer other than companies will really have to start trusting their marketing teams.

These teams will have to learn more about social media and be able to do social media and television ads.

Now, a bigger question—will we live in an era where Super Bowl ads are no longer a television market?

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