Putting the "Super" in Super Bowl advertising

Tech // TV 01.14.2014

Jon Swallen

Chief Research Officer, Kantar Media Intellig…

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  • 1.6% Larger audience for 2013 ads over audience for 2013 game
  • 0.7% Audience tuneaway during avg break in 2013 game
  • 3-4% Audience tuneaway during avg break on TV

The decade in Super Bowl ads: $2B+, 130+ brands and the strongest holding power in TV advertising

Super Bowl advertising is, well, the Super Bowl of advertising. In 2013, even when the World Series went to six games and the NCAA Final Four had its biggest return yet for ad revenue, the single-telecast Super Bowl crushed them both, reaping $292 million in ad spending versus $247.6 million for the Series and $198.5 million for the Final Four. The average rate for a 30-second spot during the game, at $4 million, was more than double the second highest average rate for a 30-second spot on TV: $1.6 million for the Academy Awards.

Every year, the world's biggest commercial showcase gets bigger and the high stakes higher. Kantar Media mined our extensive database on the past decade of Super Bowl TV advertising to assign some numbers to the scope, cost and ROI of the opportunity.

Total ad spend
From 2004 through 2013, the Super Bowl telecast generated $2.01 billion in network advertising sales from more than 130 advertisers. Total ad spending per telecast nearly doubled over the 10-year period from $149.6 million in 2004 to $292 million in 2013.

The Super Bowl is the priciest advertising opportunity on TV by far: the average rate for a 30-second network spot during the game has increased by more than 70% over the past 10 years, reaching $4.0 million in 2013. The $500,000 jump in the average cost of a 30-second spot between 2012 and 2013 was the largest of the decade.

Healthy demand is expected to result in slightly higher pricing for the 2014 game, although the actual amount paid by each advertiser will vary depending on exactly when during the game their ad runs, the length of the spot, and whether they opt for a larger package that also includes spots during the pre- or post-game coverage.

Audience ROI
In return for this investment, advertisers reach an audience that doesn't just stay put around for commercial breaks-it expands. During the 2013 game, the percentage of the audience that tuned away during the average Super Bowl ad was a miniscule 0.7%, compared with a tuneaway rate of 3% to 4% for ads during regular TV programming.

But Super Bowl advertising also turns typical commercial viewing habits on their head by drawing larger audiences for the ads than for the game. The 2013 game scored a commercial tuning index of 101.6, meaning the average Super Bowl ad attracted an audience that was 1.6% larger than the average audience for the game itself.

Click here for Kantar Media's estimations of Sponsorship Media Value for venue sponsor MetLife and halftime sponsor Pepsi.

Breakout opportunity
The opportunity for brand-building in recent years has drawn a steady influx of first-time advertisers and those with smaller ad budgets who decide to invest a hefty portion in a Super Bowl ad. In 2013, 21% of the advertisers were first-timers. A sizable rookie class is also expected in 2014; Chobani, Intuit, Tata Motors and Nestle already have publicly confirmed their Super Bowl debuts.

Also in 2013, four Super Bowl advertisers put more than 10% of their full-year media budgets into ads during the game. The most leveraged brand was Gildan Activewear, whose $4 million, 30-second spot represented 55% of its full-year measured ad spending.

Growing clutter
Even as Super Bowl ad pricing has risen, so has the volume of commercial time during the telecast. The past four Super Bowls have been the most ad-saturated in history, each containing more than 47 minutes of ad time. This includes paying sponsors, commercial messages from the NFL, and promotional announcements from the network for its own shows.

Between 2004 and 2013, total airtime increased by nearly 10 minutes, from 41:55 in 2004 to 51:40 in 2013, although 2013 saw an exceptionally large bump in ad time due to an on-the-spot decision by CBS to re-run an entire commercial pod that first aired just after the game was halted by the now infamous blackout.

Longer ads
Despite the historic cost of Super Bowl airtime, a significant proportion of advertisers opt to spend even more by running longer ads in order to tell more robust stories and further engage viewers. During the 2013 game, 15 spots ran 60 seconds or longer, including a trio of 120-second announcements. By comparison, the normal proportion of long-form ads-i.e., longer than 30 seconds-on broadcast networks is about 6%.

Source: Kantar Media

Editor's Notes

For details and methodology, download the complete release above. For inquiries, contact us.

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