Is a Super Bowl Ad Still Worth the Money?

Over the past ten years, the price of a Super Bowl ad has doubled – reaching $4.8m last year according to Kantar. Is it still rising, and is it worth the money?
Is a Superbowl ad still worth the money?

For sports fans and advertising executives alike, the Super Bowl has long been seen as the ultimate touchdown. It has everything – excitement, a huge sense of occasion, not to mention an audience around 100 million. But do recent changes to how we consume and buy media alter the play?

Over the past ten years, the price of a Super Bowl ad has doubled – reaching $4.8m last year according to Kantar. Some might argue its impact and cut-through haven’t kept pace. And, especially with ratings down this season, the real question must be – is a Super Bowl ad still worth it? And if not, how do the alternatives stack up?

Playbook for Success

From second screening, to cord cutting, how we consume media today is unrecognizable even from just a few years ago. And nowhere is this truer than in mobile – in some markets, mobile advertising spend has already eclipsed TV.

Add to this the fact that last year, the Super Bowl was a multi-screen experience for more than 70 percent of viewers. Of those viewers, 84 percent plan to use their TV as one of their screens during the game. Additionally of those viewers, 82 percent pervasively plan to use their smartphones as a screen during the game.

We can only guess Super Bowl 51 will be even more multi-screen, which opens up all sorts of questions. Not least, how does a $5 million one-off ad compare, for the sake of argument, to a year-round campaign that’s flexible, addressable and data-driven? And one that can also be executed at a fraction of the cost?

In the face of the adaptability of programmatic, and its evolution as a tactic covering all screens and media types, does one ad, on one screen, for one event still seem a relevant, effective approach?

Drop Back and Punt

The question is all the more pressing when you consider the efficiencies offered by programmatic advertising versus linear TV. eMarketer calls programmatic “unparalleled in its ability to pair rich audience data with ad inventory and targeting,” and advertisers seem to agree. Fully 72 percent of US desktop and 78 percent of mobile spend will be programmatic this year. And more than half of mobile video spend will also be bought this way.

Looking at these numbers, the question becomes not so much whether you should buy programmatically, but how you’ll reach your target audience and goals without it.

Field Goals

In 2017 then, there’s little doubt programmatic will be front of mind for the most forward-looking brands and agencies. And as addressable, automated advertising reaches maturity, it looks more and more possible that the most impactful campaigns around big events will take place outside of linear TV.

We’re closer to this happening now than ever before. And we believe that’s something to aspire to, for this year and beyond. It could be the ultimate play, touch down and field goal in one go.