For marketers in North America, Super Bowl is a big annual events. It’s almost more a showcase of creativity than some of the award shows. It’s also a battleground where brilliant ideas shine through (like Bette White’s Snicker’s ad in 2010), or when flops can be spectacular (like Dodge Ram’s use of Martin Luther King’s quote in 2018).

Each 30 second TV spot costs over USD $5 million just for the media. This can balloon depending on the agency costs, production costs, in some cases costs of celebrities in these commercials, and for most, social media costs to amplify the campaign.

Brands do get some legs in the exposure before and after the game. Views of the online ads spiked the Monday after, when people seek out ads that got talked about. But to get better exposure, brands need to spend much more than the $5 million entry costs. Product placement sponsorships like Nike logos on all the players, coaches and referees, having multiple spots airing at different times all contribute to winning the exposure game.

Bain 2019 Super Bowl Brand Prominence Score
2019 Super Bowl: Sponsorship and earned media measurement

Measuring Marketing ROI

42% of marketers says proving ROI is one of their top priorities.

In the case for Super Bowl, one study concluded that 80% of Super Bowl ads don’t lead to increased sales.

Wix placed their first Superbowl ad back in 2015. They raised their revenue target that year from from $198 – $202 million to $200 million – $204 million, alluding to the success of the Super Bowl ad.

That’s a $2 million increase in revenue target. From an ad that costs over $10 million.

So much for proving marketing ROI as a priority.

Getting Returns From $5 Million Marketing Budget

Putting our growth hacker hat on, we can easily see how much more return one can get from a $5 million spend. If I had $5 million to spend on marketing, these will be some of my top contenders based on the type of business I am in.

If consumers usually research your product category before buying (e.g. financial services), invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Content Marketing.

Many larger brands don’t put as much emphasis on SEO. Search for any financial terms and you can see fintechs dominating the first couple of pages of search results. Many rely on paid search top push their visibility. SEO is most essential to attracting lower funnel leads, those who are interested in what you offer, and likely those closest to their purchases.

$5 million can sustain a 4-person team of experienced writers and SEO experts to produce relevant content for your business for 10 years. Content can range from 3 to 5 articles posted to boost SEO results, longer form research and whitepaper to target segments of leads to push them down the funnel, as well as follow-up content to nurture leads into sales.

When repeat purchase, renewals or up-sell/cross-sell is significant (e.g. mobile phone), invest in Marketing Automation.

AI has been a much talked about marketing trend. However, AI does not run on its own. At least for now, there is much hand-holding involved to orchestrate a thoughtful user experience. AI may be able to help you identify customers who are most likely to purchase, what message or offer most resonate with them, and timing and channel to send them the communications. Humans and various technical platforms still need to work together to make the campaigns happen.

$5 million can secure a marketing operations team that includes a designer, a copywriter, a developer, a report analyst and a data scientist for probably 5 years, along with licensing costs of a marketing automation tool of your choice. You can put in campaigns like abandon shopping cart, upsell/cross-sell with product recommendations, satisfaction surveys, proactive notification on subscription renewals, etc.

If it's a well established brand and you want to keep brand awareness & continue lead generation (e.g. consumer products), invest in Digital Ads or influencers.

What if it’s a more apples-to-apples comparison? The natural consideration is obviously to digital media.

Digiday has done the math on the impressions one can get in the digital space with a Super Bowl ad budget. And the estimates are staggering.

Compared to about 98 million TV viewers and a combined 240 million across 28 ads on various online platforms of Super Bowl ads, $5 million can buy:

  • 1.7 BILLION impressions on either Facebook or Instagram (of your specified target audience)
  • 625 MILLION impressions on LinkedIn (if you are in the B2B space)
  • 6.8 million CLICKS from Amazon sponsored ads
  • 20 sponsored Instagram POSTS by Kendall Jenner (if that is your audience)

I hope this gives you some food for thought as you contemplating how to spend your next $5 million of marketing budget. Or feel free to give me a shout if you want to talk it through.

Margaret Ngai

Fusion of artsy interests & geeky minds. Passionate about smart marketing & startups. Always single focus on good food. She/Her.
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