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Super Bowl 2013 Commercials: How Much Does an Average Ad Cost?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 29:   Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers answers questions from the media during Super Bowl XLVII Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 29, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 49ers will take on the Baltimore Ravens on February 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 7, 2017

Not to downplay the significance of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, but one particularly exciting aspect of Sunday's showdown is what will be seen on TV screens when there are breaks in the action.

Yes, the commercials—that grossly costly span where advertisers from massive companies throw down serious coin for a mere 30-second slot. Hilarity often ensues, but some ads inevitably make you say, "What was that?"

So, to answer the question of how much each ad costs this time around, let's break it down—with various background information included as context.

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock didn't quite answer the cost question per say, but in a report by Aaron Smith of CNN Money, a gaudy guesstimate was given:

We don't confirm exact pricing, since all spots are sold with different considerations and often in different packages...But it's safe to say that spots are going for $4 million each, and in some cases more.

Four. Million. Dollars. That's a lot of dough.

However, a different, slightly less amount was put forth by Ad Age's Brian Steinberg in a Thursday piece, stating that the value of ads is actually somewhere between $3.7 and $3.8 million per 30-second pop.

Steinberg does a wonderful job in highlighting just how competitive and high-stakes the advertising world is to get a slice of the Super Bowl show.

Advertising in the game itself still costs much more than in the post-game show -- with in-game commercials averaging $3.7 million to $3.8 million but 30 seconds soon after costing more like $800,000, according to a media buyer with knowledge of negotiations. Ads sold in the first commercial break after the game are said to cost more than those that follow.

Immediately after the final whistle is blown, though, the cost to plug an ad drops to approximately one-fifth of what it took just moments prior to that. Talk about a rapidly-shifting dynamic.

It has gotten so heated that many of these companies are putting out teasers of their ads—or even releasing them prior to the game. ESPN's sports business expert Darren Rovell questions this strategy, as do many of his polled followers on Twitter:

88% say that releasing a Super Bowl ad before the game is bad business bit.ly/WIOcPz Wonder if advertisers will change strategy

darren rovell (@darrenrovell) January 28, 2013

But there's more.

According to NBCNEWS.com, the cost is slightly less than the other two reports suggest—$3.5 million. The trio of reporters then offers a comparison of how this year's numbers stack up to the previous decade:

A 30-second ad spot in this year’s Super Bowl costs an average of $3.5 million. That’s an 84 percent increase from 10 years ago and the highest amount advertisers have ever had to pay. While that is quite the price hike, it is in line with the growth in TV audience, which has just about doubled over the past decade.

This trend suggests that the price isn't likely to dip anytime soon, and that any sort of outrageous hypothesis of what an ad might cost has to be realistic.

To answer the headlining question, a Super Bowl XLVII ad costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million to over $4 million on the higher end.

Translation: buyers beware.

Well, unless you have a monstrous amount of money or were fortunate enough to ink up heavily tattooed San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and net roughly $16 million in free advertising.

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