Super Bowl Ad Spend

Joe D

Super Bowl Ad Spend Reaches $1.84 Billion as the escalating chatter surrounding Super Bowl XLII is not just about the teams competing for the 2008 championship. The TV commercials that will appear during the game are also the subject of growing anticipation and speculation. TNS Media Intelligence has again combed through its extensive database to report on the past 20 years of Super Bowl advertising.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, advertising during the Super Bowl game has translated into $1.84 billion of network sales during the past 20 years (1988-2007) from over 200 different advertisers. The top five Super Bowl advertisers of the past 20 years have spent $659 million on advertising during the game, accounting for 36 percent of total advertising dollars spent in the game. Anheuser Busch and Pepsico, which have appeared in every game during this period, lead the pack, followed by General Motors, Time Warner and Walt Disney.

Each year, about 62 percent of the network TV ad money invested in the game comes from incumbent marketers who ran commercials the previous year. While that’s a very high retention rate, it’s actually lower than the comparable rate for two other showcase TV events. Over the past 10 years, the average dollar retention rate has been 75 percent for the Academy Awards and 67 percent for the World Series,” said Jon Swallen, Senior Vice President, Research at TNS Media Intelligence.

The cost of an advertisement in the Super Bowl has nearly quadrupled in the past 20 years. After reaching $2.5 million in 2006 for a 30-second unit, the price fell back last year to just under $2.4 million. For the 2008 game, Fox is reportedly seeking $2.7 million for each 30-second spot. Compared to the average cost of commercial time on prime time network programming during the first quarter, Super Bowl spots are 17-18 times more expensive. This premium has held steady in recent years.

In recent years, the number of first-time Super Bowl advertisers has been on the rise. On the one hand, it indicates that more marketers are not returning to the game which could be construed as a sign of weakness for the event. On the other hand, a diverse mix of new advertisers has eagerly been filling the void, representing both well-known and lesser-known brands. This reaffirms the Super Bowl’s attractiveness to marketers willing to pay the price for access to advertising’s biggest stage and an audience of engaged viewers. Over the past ten years, the volume of commercial time in the game has been edging upwards even as the price of advertising has become more expensive. The CBS telecast of the 2007 Super Bowl contained over 43 minutes of network ads. This included paying sponsors, commercial messages from the NFL, plus “house ads” aired by CBS to promote its own programming.

What kinds of products are most frequently advertised on the Super Bowl? The popular perception is that beer, soft drinks and autos are the prime ad categories, given their annual presence in the game. Actually, the perennial leader is promotional advertising from the network itself. In a typical Super Bowl, 15-20 percent of all commercial time is a plug by the network for its own programming. In 2007, the value of this air time exceeded $46 million.

“The Super Bowl offers the host network an attractive platform to promote its upcoming programming and try to build an audience,” added Swallen. “In deciding how much ad time to keep for itself, the network has to assess the trade-off between giving up current revenue in the game versus building future revenue from its other programming.” Established in 23 countries with more than 16,000 customers, TNS Media Intelligence is part of TNS, the global marketing insight and information group. TNS Media Intelligence monitors 3 million brands worldwide across a multitude of media, including TV, radio, print, Internet, cinema and outdoor. In the U.S., TNS Media Intelligence is the leading provider of strategic advertising intelligence to advertising agencies, advertisers, and media properties.

Super Bowl Ad Spend

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