Super Bowl Advertising: Is the Juice Worth the $7 Million Squeeze?

According to Statista, the average 30-second commercial for Super Bowl 2023 was $7 million, up a half million dollars from 2022, and up from $2.2 million back in 2022. So is the juice worth the squeeze for advertisers who drop big bucks to make a big bang during one of the most-watched annual sporting events?

The list of top commercials – see one list below – varies depending on which news outlet is covering the Super Bowl commercials phenomenon but one thing is for sure, an average 113 million viewers saw at least some of the ads filling time between what was an entertaining game on the field of play.

So the numbers are not in as far as impressions advertisers received for their big spend on Super Bowl advertising, but Digiday did a good job of breaking down what $7 million would likely rake in on other platforms:

  • Netflix – An advertiser could garner 127.2 million impressions via Netflix ads with the $7 million.
  • Instagram Reels – A $7 million budget could fetch anywhere between 2.3 billion and 7 billion impressions on the platform.
  • Newsletters – CPMs for newsletters can be anywhere between $5 and $25, depending on the newsletter’s total list size. That means that with a $7 million budget, advertisers could get anywhere between 1.4 billion and 280 million impressions via newsletters.
  • Newspapers – A full-page ad in a major newspaper can cost between $25,000 and $125,000. With that being the case, an advertiser could get 280 full-page print ads for the lower-end cost and 56 print ads for the higher-end cost (for $7 million).
  • Twitter – With the $7 million budget, advertisers could score between 2.3 billion and 3.5 billion impressions on the platform.
  • YouTube – An advertiser could purchase 2.21 billion impressions on YouTube with a $7 million Super Bowl ad budget.

Were the Ads a Success?

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched events in the world, with a huge audience that includes not only avid sports fans but also non “sports ball” people (spouses) who tune in specifically to watch the ads. This creates an opportunity for brands to reach a massive audience and potentially gain significant exposure and buzz for their products or services.

For many companies, this cost is simply too high to justify the investment, especially considering that not all Super Bowl advertising is successful in terms of generating a positive return on investment. In addition, the Super Bowl ad landscape has become increasingly crowded in recent years, making it more difficult for brands to stand out and make an impact.

Ultimately, whether or not a Super Bowl ad is worth the spend depends on a variety of factors, including a company’s goals, target audience, and available budget. While Super Bowl ads can be a powerful way to generate buzz and reach a massive audience, they may not be the right choice for every brand or campaign.

Wise marketers use measurement tools, such as multi-touch attribution, to determine how their Super Bowl ads performed as part of their overall marketing campaigns. More on ad measurement at the end.

So Who Did Advertise This Year?

The Sporting News produced a handy list of all of the commercials that ran during Super Bowl 57, broken down by quarter, before the ads even ran. The list of companies who advertised, by quarter, in alpha order, were:

  • First Quarter:
      • DraftKings
      • E-Trade
      • Rakuten
      • Remy Contreau (Remy Martin)
  • Second Quarter:
      • Avocados From Mexico
      • Dexcom
      • Frito-Lay (Doritos)
      • General Motors
      • Google
      • Kellogg
      • Mars Wrigley (M&M’s)
      • P&G (Downy)
      • Stellantis (Jeep)
      • Uber
      • WeatherTech
  • Third Quarter:
      • Diageo (Crown Royal)
      • FanDuel
      • Hormel (Planters)
      • Kia
      • Unilever (Hellmann’s)
      • Workday
  • Fourth Quarter:
      • Servant Christian Foundation (He Gets Us)
      • Skechers
      • Stellantis (Ram)
      • T-Mobile
  • Others rolled in throughout the big event:
    • A-B InBev (Bud Light, Busch Light, Michelob Ultra)
    • Amazon Prime Video (“Air”)
    • Dunkin’
    • Frito-Lay (Pepsi)
    • Heineken (Heineken 0.0)
    • Intuit (TurboTax)
    • Limit Break
    • Molson Coors (Miller Lite, Coors Light)
    • NFL
    • Paramount (“Scream VI”)
    • Paramount+
    • PepsiCo (Pepsi Zero Sugar)
    • Squarespace
    • Universal (“Fast X”)
    • Warner Bros. Discovery (“The Flash”)

There are typically 50 minutes of ads, so Fox (who aired the game) stood to make upwards of $700 million from advertising alone.

Who Were the Winners?

Adweek provided its Top 10 ads from the big game, counting down backwards from 10, starting with:

10. Uber One, “One Hit for Uber One” – featuring P. Diddy being pitched jingles

9. Doritos, “Jack’s New Angle” – Jack Harlow’s obsession with triangles (playing the instrument and starting a phenomenon)

8. Crown Royal, “Thank You Canada” – Dave Grohl thanking Canada for all the things it brought to the world

7. PopCorners, “Breaking Good” – A play on Breaking Bad with “flavors” of the chips

6. Dunkin’, “Drive-Thru” – Ben Affleck works the drive-thru and J.Lo pulls up…hilarity ensues

5. NFL, “Run With It” – A female flag football star runs from everyone, family, announcers, and bouncers, to keep her flags

4. Netflix/GM, “Why Not an EV?” – Will Ferrell asks “why not an EV?” to promote GM’s electric vehicles, something Netflix says it will use more of in its programming

3. Molson Coors, “High Stakes Beer Ad” – Miller Lite and Coors Light duke it out, but the scene ends with a frosty Blue Moon on the bartop

2. Workday, “Rock Star” – Paul Stanley from Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne shine in this ode to the overuse of the “rock star” descriptor in the workplace

1. Tubi – One had a scary rabbit taking people down a, well, “rabbit hole” of programming; while a second appeared to hijack people’s TV and change from the game to Tubi offerings

That’s a pretty decent list, honestly. A few of our favorites were the Workday, Dunkin’, and Crown Royal ads. All had humor, not so coincidentally.

“What Gets Measured…

…gets managed” – as Peter Drucker is famously quoted as saying. While the renowned management theorist’s point is really about assessing people – you have to measure an employee’s performance to determine how well they are doing and to help move them forward – the same theory can (and should) be applied to advertising and marketing performance.

Throwing dollars at marketing does not equal success if you don’t figure out how your marketing channels are performing individually and together. Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a key indicator of marketing performance. ROAS is calculated by looking at the cost of an advertising grouping compared to the revenue received from conversions attributed to this grouping.

No doubt the CEO and CFO of the company spending $7 million for 30 seconds of air time will want to know how that ad performed. How many impressions were received? How many conversions? What was the medium’s contribution to overall sales and revenue? How did that mega ad help lift the performance of other channels, such as social and website banner ads, other paid campaigns, and perhaps some guerilla marketing efforts?

Marketing attribution for media is a hot topic, and it should be measured impartially for broadcast TV (such as for those Super Bowl ads), radio, podcasts, and OTT and CTV streaming ads. Through insights from multi-touch attribution, marketers know which of their advertising campaigns are working and, more importantly, which are not. Armed with this unbiased attribution data, marketers can optimize their campaigns for ROAS – that critical KPI every advertiser needs to be focused on.

This video tackles the topic of “How to Improve Your Conversion Rate,” aligning nicely with the Super Bowl ad performance topic.