Super Bowl audience numbers are trending downwards. But the cost of a 30 second ad buy keeps going up. Why?


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Super Bowl audience numbers are trending downwards. But the cost of a 30 second ad buy keeps going up. Why?

Most popular YouTuber of all time MrBeast recently tweeted an cheeky offer to anyone looking to reach 100m people

IN THE WEEKS leading up to the Super Bowl, there was a lot of chat over the cost of advertising during the game.

  • It was US$7m for 30 seconds of airtime, a new high.

  • That led plenty of folks across the marketing landscape —from the world’s most popular YouTuber, MrBeast, to experienced SEOs and random influencer agents— to post some “better offers.”

  • They essentially promised whichever brands were listening a better ROI for that seven mil, in a light heartened —and also serious— way.

BUT. THE CALCULUS behind a Super Bowl ad buy is way more complex than that. 

  • An old boss of mine used to call the Super Bowl “America’s last campfire.”

  • As he put it, “it's the only event left that we, as a nation, still watch together.”

  • And this was a dozen years ago, when Netflix was still mailing DVDs, Instagram was in its infancy, and way, way before TikTok took over the globe.

  • In other words, as our media landscape becomes ever more fractured, it’s become much harder to command a simultaneous audience in America for, well, anything. The Super Bowl is all that’s left.

  • So, when it comes to buying air time during the Super Bowl, there’s something at play here that’s much more important than CPM, or cost for every thousand viewers.

  • Clout.

NO MATTER WHERE you are, we are all living through a wild sociological experiment: the end of mainstream pop culture.

  • Look around: all of our info, entertainment, and communications has been divided into narrower and narrower sub streams.

  • This is a trend that only becomes more pronounced as audiences become younger and younger.

  • Hence, US$7m 30 second Super Bowl ad buys.

  • But here’s the rub.

  • It’s worth it.

ZOOM OUT: WHAT larger flex is there for a brand than a Super Bowl ad?

  • Many marketers really value the way a Super Bowl ad buy signals their brand’s scale.

  • And few, if any, other instruments can help a brand garner valuable clout as quickly and as efficiently as a Super Bowl ad buy can.

  • Think about it: just being there, alongside the GMs, PepsiCos, Procter & Gambles and AB InBevs of the world, says a lot, to a lot.

  • And if the ad is good, the brand enjoys the added benefit of being the topic of countless conversations and recaps in the days after game.

  • There are more efficient CPMs out there, obviously.

  • But if you’re running a brand that’s ready to be recognized alongside the world’s most famous ones (but isn’t quite there yet), few other marketing tactics can level you up like a Super Bowl ad buy can.

LOOK FOR 30 second buys during the Super Bowl to be even more expensive next year.

  • Even especially if this year’s big game viewership is down.

Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply.

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