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October 24th, 2017

The Super Bowl Conundrum for Advertisers — Is 30 Seconds of Brand Exposure Worth $5 Million?

Now that football season is in full swing, it’s getting to be decision time for some brands. There is no debating the popularity of the Super Bowl. It’s more than just a football game held on the first Sunday in February each year, it’s an event. The live audience that watches the game is unmatched by any other TV program.

And it’s not just the game anymore that gets people to watch. Millions also look forward to the ads and the halftime show. It’s one of the few instances in programming when people are genuinely paying attention to the advertising.

As a result, the network that broadcasts the game charges the highest 30-second ad rates for any show on TV. The cost for a 30-second spot during last season’s title game between New England and Atlanta was $5.02 million, an all-time high.

For brands with widespread name recognition, huge advertising budgets, and products that are an ideal match to the male-heavy demographic, the decision to advertise can be a no-brainer. Beer-makers, auto manufacturers, and movie studios heavily promote their products during the game in order take advantage of the massive viewership that allows them to market to hundreds of millions of viewers.

But what about small- and mid-cap companies with limited marketing budgets? Is it worth betting $5 million for 30 seconds of exposure to an audience that, while huge, might not be your key target demographic? And that $5 million is likely just the start. According to a report from, the true cost of the ad could be closer to $30 million when you factor in the ad’s production, PR, and social-media promotion, not to mention what it might take to land that A-list celebrity endorser.

There are arguments for both sides. According to a 2014 Super Bowl Ad effectiveness study done by BrandAds, 83% of brands that advertised during the game positively influenced a consumer’s likelihood to purchase their products or services. The halftime show performance by Lady Gaga during Super Bowl LI lifted her music sales by 1000% in the aftermath of the game, according to

In a recent research paper we published in partnership with Turner and Horizon Media, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of TV Advertising in the Modern Media Landscape”, our analysis found that despite the huge swing toward digital ads, TV still had the largest impact in terms of audience reach, sales lift and ROI.

By contrast, a Fortune article, cited a survey that estimates 80% of the game’s commercials don’t boost sales or purchase intent, and that 87% of viewers are solely watching for entertainment purposes with only 6% interested in new brands, products or services.

So what’s an advertiser to do? In the digital age, a 30-second spot during the game is just the first place to advertise. It would also be pushed through your social channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter while you leverage your CRM database for an email campaign. But what if you wanted to go beyond your first-party data and target a specific consumer segment?

This is where Neustar’s advanced marketing analytics can play a significant role in your decision-making. Our AdAdvisor solution allows you find the exact audience segment you’re looking to target. Our marketing mix modeling (MMM) lets you plan with better precision and take advantage of the media channel that has the best chance of succeeding. And with the multi-touch attribution (MTA) solution, you can more effectively track the effectiveness of each channel along the customer journey. Our solutions are grounded in the Neustar OneID® system that connects people, places and things with trusted identity so you can confidently reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.

When your marketing investment is worth millions, you have to be sure you’re getting a solid return on that investment. Neustar gives you the ability to make better decisions with an intelligent strategy backed with the strongest, most trusted identity resolution in the industry. And to ensure you have cohesion within your organization, check out our GameDay Playbook which outlines best practices for setting expectations between Marketing and Finance while plotting out your strategy.

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