Big Game. Big Gamble?

Most people don’t have $4.5 million in their bank account to experiment with. Advertising budgets are another story. While $4.5 million might sound like an arbitrary number to focus on, it actually represents the cost of a 30 second TV spot during Super Bowl XLIX. This year, 30 seconds on Fox are rumored to cost anywhere from $5 - $5.5 million.

In both football and advertising, making it to the Super Bowl is often seen as the highest measure of success. And, with Super Bowl XLIX reaching the largest audience in TV history (120.8 million), there is some sense to that. There’s no doubt that securing airtime during The Big Game will get your brand seen. But just for fun, let’s take a look at what else you could buy (in terms of advertising) with your $4.5 million.

For comparison, let’s first figure out what the CPM (cost per thousand impressions), a common metric used in advertising, is for a Super Bowl ad that costs $4.5 million.

Super Bowl Spot at $4.5 million for :30

  • CPM = (Cost of 1 Unit of a Media Program) / (Size of Audience) x 1,000
  • Super Bowl XLIX CPM = ($4,500,000) / (120,800,000) x 1,000
  • Total: CPM = $37.25

At first glance, a $37.25 CPM may not seem like a lot. But, let’s compare it to other available advertising options, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, using their average CPMs. Keep in mind, the average digital CPM will vary based off targeting, geography, etc. But for this, I’ll be using broad averages because a Super Bowl ad is not going to be highly targeted.

So, let’s see how that same budget breaks down to for a few different options.

Facebook Newsfeed Ad:

  • Facebook Average CPM: $7.34 = ($4,500,000) / (X = Impression) x 1,000
  • X = 613,079,019 Impressions
  • $4.5 million = 613 million impressions

YouTube Ad:

  • YouTube Average CPM: $7.60 = ($4,500,000) / (X = Impression) x 1,000
  • X = 592,105,263 Impressions
  • $4.5 million = 592 million impressions

Twitter Ad:

  • Twitter Average CPM: $8.92 = ($4,500,000) / (X = Impression) x 1,000
  • X = 504,484,304 Impressions
  • $4.5 million = 504.5 million impressions

Now, I know that’s a lot of numbers, but to quickly put it into perspective, for the same media spend of $4.5 million, Facebook would generate 613 million impressions — a 407.5% increase over the Super Bowl ad. While Twitter, which had the highest CPM out of the digital platforms we compared, would generate 504.4 million impressions — a 317% increase.

There is no doubt a Super Bowl ad will get you in front of people, not to mention post-Super Bowl media coverage and YouTube views, and for brands with the budget to funnel that into sustainable interest and sales, it may be well worth it. For the rest, those that cannot or aren’t willing to roll the dice and take their chances on a $4.5 million gamble, digital options are a safer bet.