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The power of the Super Bowl ad slot

February 5, 2016

Brian Morris   

Blog contributor

It’s that time of year again – the Super Bowl is upon us. Super Bowl 50 will see an intriguing matchup this Sunday when an unstoppable force – the Carolina Panthers’ offence – meets an immovable object – the Denver Broncos’ defence.

As the hype is really starting to build, the focus is not just on the game itself but also on the half-time show, with Coldplay headlining this year. Crucially, there’s also a lot of interest in the ads that will be shown during breaks in play, with the biggest brands pulling out all the stops to capture the world’s attention.  In the build-up, some ads have been released for viewers already, including this from Drake and T-Mobile. It’s a fun ad that, thanks to its simplicity, gets the message across well, and features one of last year’s biggest songs.

The cost of buying these ad slots has been the subject of much discussion. The Bleacher Report claims that CBS is charging a staggering $5 million for a 30 second lot. This seems like an eye-watering amount, and Bleacher Report notes that it’s “11 percent higher than the base price of $4.5 million that NBC charged in the 2015 Super Bowl, which was the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television at around 114 million viewers.” Bleacher report also highlights that this is not an isolated phenomenon: “According to Kantar Media, the price of a 30-spot has increased by approximately 75 percent over the last decade alone, and generates a total of $2.19 billion in sales.”

Taking these numbers at face value, it would appear that – despite the growing popularity of on-demand video services such Netflix – traditional TV networks are in rude health. However, the fact that these slots are so expensive is actually further proof that the television industry as we have known it is changing.

We live in an era where, increasingly, people want to view whatever they want, whenever they want. The ongoing atomisation and disintegration of audiences means that occasions where lots of people get together around the TV to watch a show are becoming rarer. This is a trend that has actually been seen for some time, and the number of families viewing Christmas specials, daily soaps and the latest drama series is in steady decline.

What’s different about the Super Bowl is that it offers brands a rare, unrivalled opportunity to reach a huge number of people in one go. It’s precisely for this reason that the ad slots during the Super Bowl are becoming more expensive every year.

What’s more, marketers have cottoned on to the benefit of putting these ads online before they’re showcased to a wider audience during the show this weekend. This approach kick-starts conversations on social media and maximises opportunities to boost sales ahead of, during and after the Super Bowl – giving brands real bang for their buck.