What the cost of a Super Bowl ad can buy online

This year’s Super Bowl will likely attract the largest audience and the most ad revenue in NFL history. NBC sold out all of its Super Bowl ad slots, which cost $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime (a record). And online gambling website Vegas Insider placed the over-under on the number of Super Bowl viewers at 113 million, which would be the largest audience in the history of U.S. television.

If anything, the proliferation of digital media has actually increased the value of Super Bowl advertising. In an era of ad-skipping, time-shifting and a virtually infinite number of on-demand digital media options, sports — the Super Bowl, especially — remains a last bastion of appointment viewing and, correspondingly, one of the precious few times a brand can ensure people will actually watch its TV ads.

But if a brand were to divert $4.5 million to digital, they’d be able to get a lot more than just 30 seconds of media (in most cases, at least). Here’s what the cost of a Super Bowl ad could fetch online. (See our previous tallies here and here.)

Nearly a week’s worth of Snapchat ads
Agency execs have complained that $750,000 is too much for just a day’s worth of advertising on Snapchat. But with $4.5 million, brands could have run a snap ad or sponsored Snapchat story every day of the week leading up to the game.

Or they could run ads on The Daily Mail’s Snapchat channel for three months (90 consecutive days, to be exact). Speaking of which, $4.5 big ones could also get …

A year’s worth of sponsored content on DailyMail.com
For $4.5 million, The Daily Mail would create custom content for a brand on a near-daily basis for a year, including homepage takeovers, branded videos and the opportunity to sponsor several of the publication’s live events, according to North America CEO Jon Steinberg.

“Anyone blowing money on a Super Bowl ad is crazy,” Steinberg added.

3.5 billion display ads
Display ads currently sell for $1.28 per thousand impressions (CPM) in the U.S., according to ad tech company Turn, meaning $4.5 million would fetch 3.5 billion display ads.

Takeover the AOL, MSN and Yahoo homepages for three straight days
It costs $600,000 to take over Yahoo’s homepage for a day, on average, according to Matt Heindl, senior director of social media marketing at digital agency Razorfish. So instead of running a Super Bowl ad, a brand could take over Yahoo for exactly 7.5 days.

But why stop there? Super Bowl money would allow you to simultaneously take over Yahoo’s, AOL’s and MSN’s homepages for three days straight, Heindl added.

And while portals may be maligned by the technorati, they still deliver huge audiences: Yahoo, AOL and MSN were the 2nd, 4th and 6th most-trafficked sites in the U.S. in December 2014, respectively, according to comScore.

50 million video views on Facebook
Digital media agency Laundry Service said that it costs $0.09 to have a Facebook user “view” a video — that is, watch it for at least three seconds. At that rate, Super Bowl-level spend would render 50 million views on Facebook.

6.4 million clicks on search ads
It costs $0.70 to have a U.S. Internet user click on your brand’s search ad, according to marketing software firm Kenshoo, meaning for $4.5 million, a brand can expect 6.4 million search users check out its company, product or service.

That is, if they’re “real” clicks. Brands can also choose to invest $4.5 million in eliminating fraud. In which case they’d receive…

Three times the viewability on ads for three years
If a brand spending approximately $50 million a year on digital media were to dedicate $4.5 million to combating digital ad fraud, it would increase the viewability of its ads by a factor of three over the course of three years, according to a digital media agency executive.

Brand exclusivity with a YouTube star for a year
The most well-paid person on a YouTube is DC Toys Collector, a mysterious woman — or women — who made an estimated $4.9 million in 2014 by merely opening Disney toys on camera.

Given that, a brand could expect to have exclusive access to a top-flight YouTube star such as Bethany Mota or Michelle Phan for an entire year, according to the aforementioned media agency exec.

A team of more than 15 digital agency workers
That same exec said that brands should invest in their digital agency instead of buying a Super Bowl spot. For that kind of money, an agency could pay for a full-fledged team of at least 15 agency workers, including planners, media buyers, search marketing specialists and analytics experts. But then again, of course an agency exec would prefer his client to invest more in the agency.

300 Instagram ads taken by “the den mother of Instagram”
Liz Eswein — the enterprising young woman behind the @newyorkcity Instagram handle — has turned her popularity on the platform into big business, renting out her feed to brands for up to $15,000 per shot. Super Bowl money would allow a brand to access Eswein’s 1.2 million Instagram followers every day for 10 months out of the year.

Have a topic trend on Twitter in the U.S. for 22.5 days
Countless brands will undoubtedly live tweet the Super Bowl in the hopes of replicating Oreo’s success during the 2013 game. Or they could just spend $4.5 million to have their brand trend nationwide for more than 22 days. (A national trending topic costs $200,000 on a non-”big” day, per Heindl.)

Comparing CPMs
Supposing a Super Bowl ad is seen by all 113 million projected viewers, which is an incredibly generous estimate, it equates to a $39.82 CPM. Here’s that compared to ads on other large platforms.

Data on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were according to marketing software company Salesforce. For Twitter, the price is for a promoted tweet, and the CPM for Facebook ads is across of all of its ad products. Instagram and Pinterest’s ad prices were according to digital media executives.

Image via Giphy


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