Cassie Chorn
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Why do Marketers Compete for Super Bowl Airtime?

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The Super Bowl is all about the numbers – big numbers. At my last check, tickets were reselling for an average of US$ 4,639, making it the most expensive Super Bowl to date.

Those lucky enough to nab a ticket to the game have been shelling out US$13 for beer, US$25 for a glass of wine, and US$7 for a bottle of water. Convert that to Aussie dollars and you’ll never complain about drink prices down under again.

Which brings me to the much-talked about Super Bowl commercials. This year, a commercial cost advertisers $US 170,000 a second. For marketers, the Super Bowl is a prime opportunity to not only boost sales, but to also boost their brand.

This year, more than 100 million people have tuned into the game. For majority of Americans, it’s watched live, which means they’re forced to watch the ads. Add to that large audience the power of social media and the lure of the featured celebrity, and you have yourself a very powerful branding tool.


How influential are the ads?

According to a Prosper Insights and Analytics survey, 18% of respondents said the Super Bowl ads made them more aware of the advertised brands, and 10.3% said that the ads influenced their buying decisions. This doesn’t seem like a huge amount. In fact, industry experts have suggested that many brands would be better off airing their commercials elsewhere at a much cheaper price, as opposed to blowing their budget for one 30-second time slot. And because the time slot is so expensive, there’s no opportunity for repeat ads, which is seen by many as an essential component of successful advertising.

It’s free publicity

So while we know that a lot of Super Bowl ads don’t seem to really boost sales, marketers are still attracted to this time slot because of the free publicity it generates. University of Colorado research found that a company’s stock price actually rose after they announced that they were buying the lucrative air time (at least for the short term). The researchers also concluded that the impact on stock prices occurred at the time of the announcement, rather than after the ad had aired, which is why many marketers choose to release teasers on YouTube.

Previewing teasers

Interestingly, the most successful ads are the ones that have been released ahead of game day, or have distributed teasers. YouTube found that those that had been released in advance get 2.2 times more views than those that don’t.

So, it appears that it’s more important for a brand to spruik their participation than to produce a slick ad. But we’ll let you make up your own mind. Here’s a list of this year’s commercials, courtesy of Mashable. Enjoy!


(A still of Heinz’s 2016 Super Bowl ad. Credit: Re/code)

(Feature image: Super Bowl Commercials 2016)

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By Cassie Chorn

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