US Insights

A decade of Super Bowl advertising, by the numbers

Jon Swallen

Chief Research Officer, Kantar Media Intelligence North America

TV 01.14.2015 / 10:50

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Your encyclopedia of stats on the biggest ad game in sports

America's most-watched television event-and the biggest reason why we still use Roman numerals-is nearly upon us. In advance of Super Bowl XLIX, we at Kantar Media have mined our database for contextual stats on the past 10 years of Super Bowl advertising.

The biggest ad game in televised sports. From 2005 through 2014, the Super Bowl game has generated $2.19 billion in network advertising sales from more than 130 advertisers. But how does it compare to the World Series and the NCAA Final Four, two other high-profile sporting events that attract significant interest from TV advertisers? The World Series is comprised of four to seven games, the Final Four just three. The Super Bowl, of course, is a single telecast. Yet in recent years, it has been pulling away from the other championship tourneys.

Ad rates and revenues continue to rise. The average rate for a 30-second advertisement during the Super Bowl has increased by 75% over the past decade, reaching $4.2 million in 2014. It's the most expensive commercial time on television by far. (The 2014 runner up: the NFC Championship Game at $1.95 million per 30-second spot). Healthy demand is expected to result in higher pricing for the 2015 game.

More advertising, more clutter. Even as Super Bowl ad pricing has increased, the volume of commercial time in the game has also grown. The past five Super Bowls have been the most ad-saturated in history, each containing more than 47 minutes of commercial time. This includes paying sponsors, commercial messages from the NFL and promotional announcements from the network for its own shows.

Longer commercials. Despite the high cost of air time, a significant proportion of advertisers opt to spend even more by running longer commercials. It's an effort to tell a deeper story and further engage viewers. Forty percent of the paid ads in the 2014 game were 60 seconds or longer, the highest share since at least 1984. (By comparison, the normal proportion of long-form ads on broadcast networks is about 6%.)

Key Numbers

  • 60% % of ads containing hashtags in 2014
  • 54% % of ads containing hashtags in 2013
  • 11% % of ads containing hashtags in 2012

Super social. The Super Bowl generates plenty of second-screen activity during the game and marketers have accelerated their efforts to attract and engage multi-platform consumers. It's evidenced by the increased number of ads containing a social media element. According to Kantar Media's analysis of paid commercials shown during the game, hashtags have overtaken URLs as the most popular call to action mechanism. Last year, 60% of paid ads (33 of 55) contained a hashtag as compared to 54% in 2013.

Top five advertisers. During the past five years, the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent $456.6 million on network advertising during the game, accounting for 35% of total advertising revenue.  Anheuser-Busch InBev ($152.5 million) and Chrysler ($89.5 millon) lead the pack, followed by Pepsico, Hyundai, and Volkswagen ($76.6 million, $69.8 million and $68.1 million).

First-time advertisers. Recent Super Bowls have seen a steady influx of first-time advertisers eager for the recognition and brand-building opportunity. In 2014, first-time advertisers accounted for 23% of the ad lineup. A sizable rookie class is expected in 2015; NBC says it has sold time to 15 first-time participants, including Carnival, Loctite, Mophie, and Wix.

That said, it's not clear whether NBC's count is based on brands or the parent company owners of brands. A first-time brand in the Super Bowl may be from a company that has previously purchased spots. Kantar Media counts of first-time advertisers, based on parent companies, are nine for 2014, six for 2013, nine for 2012, four for 2011 and seven for 2010.

Small players, big stage. The daunting price of Super Bowl ad time would seem to be a barrier to small marketers with limited budgets. However, each year the roster of Super Bowl advertisers includes several companies who invest a hefty chunk of their annual budget to buy commercial time. In 2014, six Super Bowl advertisers put more than 10% of their full-year media budgets into the game. The most leveraged sponsor in the 2014 Super Bowl was Soda Stream International. Its $4.2 million ad buy represented 39% of its full-year measured ad expenditures.

Cars, trucks and football. The 2014 Super Bowl was the fourth consecutive year with a glut of automotive ads. A whopping $113 million was spent by 11 different nameplates and the category accounted for over one-fourth of total ad time in the game. Automakers will have a smaller footprint in the 2015 game. Based on corporate announcements thus far, at least two brands (Jaguar and Volkswagen) will not be returning.

Value of on-screen sponsor exposure. Beyond paid commercials airing during breaks in the game, there are two additional on-screen exposure opportunities that provide high value for specific sponsors: 1) the venue sponsor; and 2) the halftime show sponsor.

Kantar Media projects that venue sponsor University of Phoenix will receive about $11.2 million in Sponsorship Media Value from the Super Bowl. This is based on an average 6 minutes, 20 seconds of exposure during the in-game broadcast, primarily from TV camera shots of the stadium. Sponsorship Media Value, a proprietary calculation developed by Kantar Media, takes into account duration, source and prominence of the sponsor's on-screen exposure.

For halftime Super Bowl sponsor Pepsi, the expected exposure time based on historical averages is 4 minutes, 10 seconds which would equate to about $7.3 million of Sponsorship Media Value. Exposure for the halftime sponsor is through on-screen billboards appearing during the first and second quarter of the game, verbal mentions from the announcers and stage signage during the performance itself.


Source: Kantar Media

Editor's Notes

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