4 Questions All Marketers Have About Super Bowl Ads

$5 million is the current asking price for a 30-second Super Bowl ad. This high ticket buy-in to play in “the big league” causes advertisers to infamously create some of the best ads every year. Both large enterprise companies and “unicorn” startups alike are forking up the big bucks for Super Bowl ad space. Although the cost of Super Bowl ads has increased 75% over the past decade, it has not slowed the demand for ad space. As marketers many of us are left with many unanswered questions after reading these statistics. Here are the four questions all marketers have about Super Bowl ads.

What is the ROI?

For brands to justify that sort of ad spend they must be getting some sort of ROI, right?  A seemingly outrageous ad spend could easily be rationalized if the return was 5x or even 3x. Sources claim that only 39% of brands who place Super Bowl advertisements see a substantial return on investment in terms of generating consumer behavior.

Questioning the validity of a $5 million investment in a 30 second ad is completely rational, and we are not the only ones doing it. Adobe has been trolling the Super Bowl for a number of years now, challenging CMOs to rethink this sort of outlandish investment. This year Adobe released the ad below, which challenges marketers to not “gamble” away their marketing budgets.


“This ad is saying that any marketing investment that isn’t informed by data could be an unnecessary gamble with your company’s money,” – Alex Amado, Adobe’s VP of Experience Marketing. This pro-data approach to marketing is extremely relatable as all marketers can attest to the amount of pressure to make intelligent marketing decisions based on insights–not a gut feeling.

Who do Super Bowl ads reach?

If a brand is trying to increase brand awareness on a large scale, then placing a Super Bowl ad could be in the realm of possibilities. But depending on your marketing goals, this might not be the best strategy. Think about who your audience is. Now think about who watches the Super Bowl. Is that who you are trying to reach? These are all important questions to ask yourself when considering this ad spend.

“We all know how expensive the Super Bowl has become for advertisers, yet so often brands buy up media without understanding if it actually makes sense for them,”
– Simon Bruyn, GS&P

The Super Bowl’s audience spans all races, religions, genders, ages, and political parties, so it is difficult for marketers to create an ad that appeals to everyone. Additionally you will notice that most Super Bowl ads come from large B2C companies–not B2B companies–due to the wide net that Super Bowl ads let marketers cast. For marketers of niche or specialty brands it simply would not make sense to try and reach their target audience through this method.

What happens after those 30 seconds are over?

One upside about Super Bowl ads is the attention they get both before and after the big event. There are high expectations for Super Bowl ads to be the best ads of the year. They make us laugh, make us cry, and (hopefully) make us emotionally attached to the brand.

Before the Super Bowl there is a lot of buzz around who bought ad space and what to expect. Prediction posts such as 10 Ads You Won’t Want to Miss During the Super Bowl can help brands expand their reach beyond the ad space they purchased. Thanks to the digital world we live in, the ads live on after the big game as well. Many post-event articles feature the best Super Bowl commercials and various websites exist to analyze and vote on which Super Bowl ad was the best.

Additionally, half of the Super Bowl ads in 2015 included a hashtag, a trend which is expected to continue this year. Integrating social sharing goals to help measure the success of Super Bowl ads is becoming an increasingly popular way to help stretch the reach and life of a Super Bowl investment.

Why is influencer marketing a better option?

In one word; Trust. The problem with ads is that people do not trust them as much as authoritative content. Although the marketers who opt for Super Bowl ads are reaching a large quantity of people, how many people are internalizing and believing the brand’s advertisement? Consumers are more skeptical than ever when it comes to trusting branded messaging.
Today’s consumer craves the great content their favorite influencer produces, much like sports fans anticipate the next big play from their favorite sports team. Smart brands realize this and have shifted their focus to building relationships with the influencers their audience trusts the most. As a result, when influencers share the brand’s content, since it is coming from the influencer and not the brand themselves, the audience trusts the information twice as much.