MBPT Spotlight: NBCU Research Offers Documentation That $4.5 Million Super Bowl Spot Has ‘True Value’ Of $8.1 Million

The head of NBC Sports sales raised some eyebrows during a media conference call last week when he said the network believes a 30-second Super Bowl spot is really worth close to $10 million, not the $4.4 million-$4.5 million the network is selling this year’s Big Game commercials for. 

Seth Winter, executive VP of sales and sales marketing for NBC Sports Group, did not get into the specific data on the call, but said a Super Bowl spot is worth much more than the price marketers pay “because of all the incremental exposure the creative receives on all the different social media platforms” before, during and in the days and weeks following the game.

Attempting to back up that claim, the NBCUniversal research folks have the data and methodology behind this estimated true value of a Super Bowl commercial, including all the aforementioned incremental exposure. The findings suggest that a 30-second Super Bowl commercial has an overall value of $8.14 million—not quite $10 million but still significantly greater than the $4.4 million-plus price paid for a spot this year.

How did they arrive at that total $8.14 million value? Using data from last year’s game, here is a step-by-step look at the process:

In-Game Exposure

1. There were 112.2 million live-plus-same-day viewers or impressions-per-minute during an average moment of the game.

2. Per Nielsen Brand Effect (formerly known as IAG), ads in the Super Bowl generate 54% higher brand recall than those same brands’ ads airing elsewhere in broadcast primetime over the prior 12 months. So, multiply 1.54 times that 112.2 million.

3. Then add 952,000 incremental C7 viewers or impressions based on folks watching the game with commercials over a seven-day period.

4. That equals a total of 173.7 million adjusted TV impressions.

Earned Social Media

1. The average number of views a typical Super Bowl ad gets online after the game, according to iSpot, is 9.7 million.

2. To that, add 7.8 million unique Facebook users who viewed a typical ad within that platform’s newsfeeds.

3. And add to that 1.8 million average Twitter impressions of a typical ad.

4. Total all those up and you get 19.3 million social media impressions.

Total Consumer Impressions

1. Add the 173.7 million adjusted TV impressions and the 19.3 million social media impressions and youget a total number of consumer impressions of 193 million.

Incremental Value

1. Divide the 193 million total consumer impressions by the 112.2 million live-plus-same-day impressions. That equals 1.72.

2. Then multiply the 1.72 by the $4.45 million unit cost of a Super Bowl spot, and you get $7.7 million—that equals the Consumer Ad Value of the commercial.

Press Coverage

1. According to research company Repucom which monitored broadcast and cable news programming to measure the incremental exposure of Super Bowl ads, the average Super Bowl advertiser gets about $480,000 worth of exposure value in press coverage of their spot.

Total Super Bowl Ad Value

Add the $480,000 press exposure value to the $7.7 million consumer ad value and the final Super Bowl ad value totals $8.14 million.

The methodology used to come up with the $8.14 million value for each Super Bowl spot does not include the impact the telecast of the ad across all the platforms has on investor consumer confidence or the impression it makes on Wall Street analysts. It also does not include how much of a sales lift Super Bowl advertising brands get in the days and weeks following the telecast of their ad in the big game—or for some advertisers, the exposure they get by releasing the commercial online prior to the game.

A Wall Street Journal article on Thursday speaks to the power of incremental reach. The article quotes Deutsch North American chief executive Mike Sheldon talking about his agency’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial for Volkswagen titled “The Force.” That was the one with the little boy dressed as Darth Vader thinking he used his power to start up the car.

Not only is the ad the most viewed Super Bowl commercial ever via social media, but Sheldon recalls the ad being released online the Wednesday before the game and pulling in 17 million viewers before it ever ran on TV.

Sheldon tells the Journal: “From a pure exposure standpoint, we made back all our money on the spot before it ever ran without spending a dime.”

“We feel very comfortable with our numbers,” says a spokesman for NBC Sports. “We feel they are an accurate portrayal of the true value of a Super Bowl commercial and are very defensible.”