Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Super Bowl as an Attention Structure

Roman numerals aside (XLVII in 2013), the costs of Super Bowl advertising keep heading skyward.

For 2013, CBS is said to be garnering up to $3.8 million for 30-second spots. It has been reported that almost all of the time slots were sold by early this fall.

This may seem like a lot for a little, but it is increasingly difficult to find advertising venues to reach substantial proportions of the US population at any one point in time. All the cable channels, countless video channels, and the plethora of other new electronic media, challenge the capacity of advertisers to develop media plans with wide reach to the nation.

Through all the changes in media and popular culture, the Super Bowl has emerged as the nation's most substantial annual moment of coming together via mass media. Each of the last two Super Bowls brought in about 111 million viewers (of a total US population of 315 million). These two Super Bowls are now among the record holders for largest television audiences.

Therein lies the basis for premium pricing.

For perspective, according to the TVB, in 2012 primetime television shows brought in audiences averaging about 4.5 million viewers. The peak year for primetime programming was 1980 with an average primetime audience of about 15 million.

Accordingly, there has been a two-thirds decline for primetime television audiences over the past 30 years. This underscores the impact of the Internet, broadband communication, and social media.

Now, in 2012, the average cost of a 30-second primetime spot was about $112,000. This delivers a CPM (cost-per-thousand) of about 24 dollars. With an audience of 111 million, and a per unit cost of $3.8 million, a 30-second commercial on the 2013 Super Bowl will deliver a CPM of about 34 dollars.

So, this year's Super Bowl will bring in a 10-dollar CPM premium compared with primetime television. But, with an effective message strategy and design, the advertising investment will be worth it.

The benefits include instantaneous reach to the largest and most diverse annual audience and the opportunity to place the advertised brands in the midst of the nation's annual moment of hype and hoopla.

Attention is the most valuable commodity in the economy, and the Super Bowl is easily the most valuable attention structure.

                   Copyright © 2012 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.