Super Bowl Commercials 2017: Latest Ad Costs for Casual-Fan Entertainment

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 3, 2017

A helicopter flies over NRG Stadium for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

If you have $5 million in spare change tucked away in the cracks of your living room couch, you can call up Fox and pay for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl.

The price for advertising hit the $5 million mark this year, per Sapna Maheshwari of the New York Times.

That doesn't even count the money needed to market the ad. Maheshwari interviewed Mary Scott, marketing expert and president, sports and experiential at United Entertainment Group, who noted that further costs could dig deep:

'Even though the spots have incredible viewership — as much as the game itself — you never know,' Ms. Scott said, adding that she recommends clients spend an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the cost on promotions related to their Super Bowl ad. 'There’s become more of a game around the game in terms of ensuring that really pays off in a big way.'

One thing is virtually guaranteed, though: The ad will reach over 100 million people. According to last year's Nielsen ratings, Super Bowl 50 was seen by 111.9 million folks, and that's not even the all-time record (that would be the 114.4 million for Super Bowl XLIX).

Even more interesting, a USA Today article from 2014 noted the following:

A survey of 1,000 people by San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners showed 78 percent of Americans (up from 59 percent in 2011) look forward to Super Bowl commercials more than the game. Although that's an unusual thing to say about a television program since the dawn of TiVo, here's an even more incredible statistic: 70 percent of Americans will focus on the ads before the game.

Unless you're one of those fans that only likes watching football alone, we've all been to Super Bowl parties where some people care about the game, some people half-care and some people are there for the food, company and commercials.

Although $5 million is a ridiculous price on the surface, people are paying more attention to commercials on Super Bowl Sunday than any other point in the calendar year, and there is no close second.

The phenomenon of Super Bowl commercials stretches so far that people will watch ads a second time on their own. Here's a report from Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times:

Super Bowl 50 could go down as the tipping point for a new phenomenon: viewers playing back the ads on their smartphones right after they watch them on TV.

According to Google/YouTube, 330,000 hours of Super Bowl ads were played online during the broadcast of the game Sunday, up 10% from last year. Sixty percent of that online viewing occurred on mobile devices.

Perhaps that $5 million price tag could be worth it if an ad goes viral online, or if it's played in perpetuity like the infamous Apple "1984" commercial.

Apple paid only $368,000 for that ad time during Super Bowl XVIII, per American Marketing Association's Lauren Watters, which would equate to $850,072.92 in 2016, according to the United States Department of Labor's inflation calculator. That's a much better deal that the exorbitant price these days.

In the present day, companies are making huge gambles by buying Super Bowl ad time, but the return on investment could still be positive if they strike the right chord with viewers.

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