How to Calculate the Value of a Superbowl Ad

Marketing Metrics


According to Business Insider, the cost of a 30-second TV spot during the February 5th Superbowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants averaged $3.5 million, and topped out at a jaw-dropping $4 million. With companies like Hyundai buying a total of five ads during the Tom Brady / Eli Manning faceoff, 2012 was a record-breaking year for the event, even after adjusting for inflation. I love little kids in Darth Vader helmets as much as the next guy, but here’s the obvious question: Was a Superbowl ad really worth it?

Twelve years ago, Seth Godin wrote in his marketing classic Permission Marketing:

“One reason the Super Bowl can charge so much for advertisements [is because] big events are unique in their ability to deliver about half the consumers watching TV, so they’re the perfect platform for Interruption Marketing aimed at the mass audience.”

His point was that with the splintering of media and the proliferation of marketing messages, there are fewer and fewer places to capture a mass audience. The effect has been to drive up the cost of advertising on the small number of events left that can still reach the majority of that audience. Indeed, there are hardly any events left that capture the attention of the nation the way the Superbowl does. So it’s no wonder that it continues to see record profits.

While the Superbowl primarily attracts B2C advertisers, the price tag is enough to make a B2B marketer pause and ask, “What could I do with a $4 million marketing spend?”

The more important question – and one sure to be asked by your CEO – is “What could you get for a $4 million marketing spend?”

Last year, Fast Company reported that many ad agencies had no idea how to measure the success of their Superbowl ads other than counting YouTube views and looking at the USA Today ad meter. If you were spending $4 million in 30 seconds, would your CEO be happy with these metrics?

At Marketo, we’ve used the science of Revenue Performance Management to drive down the cost of our marketing efforts to approximately $60 per prospect. That means, for $4 million, we could produce about 66,667 prospects.

So we know exactly how many prospects we would need to generate to justify a 30-second Superbowl ad. (Of course, I’m discounting any branding value here.) That’s exactly why we use Revenue Performance Management – to compare different marketing channels so we can decide whether or not it’s cost effective for us to follow in the footsteps of the eTrade Baby and the Budweiser Clydesdales. By using analytics to measure the entire sales and marketing cycle, we can make the most cost-effective revenue generating decisions for our company.

Do you know what kind of return you could expect on a $4 million marketing campaign?