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At this year’s Super Bowl in Houston, airing a 30-second spot on FOX will set you back $5 million. That’s twice what it cost back in 2010, when a 30-second spot was $2.5 million. And that doesn’t even include the creative budget to develop the spot (estimated at $1 million for large brands) and all the promotional costs (e.g. media buys on Facebook and YouTube) needed to get people talking about your ads the next day at the office water cooler.
Now that social video – whether it’s Facebook Live or videos on Instagram – has become so ubiquitous, isn’t it time to ask: Will social media kill off the Super Bowl commercial?
Social media has leveled the playing field for brands
The giant premise of advertising during the Super Bowl – getting access to 100 million eyeballs at the same time – means that you are paying more than $5 million to reach this huge audience for 30 seconds. In today’s social media universe, where top celebrities can have 20 million followers or fans, it just seems ridiculous to be paying so much money for so little.
Here’s just one example: the halftime performer for this year’s Super Bowl, Lady Gaga, has 21 million followers on Instagram. Ahead of the Super Bowl, she has already posted a few updates on her Instagram feed (@LadyGaga). A sexy picture of her wearing a grey NFL shirt picked up 345,000 likes. A picture of her working out on a yoga mat to get ready for her performance picked up 274,000 likes. And a brief two-second Instagram video showing her rehearsal tent and her dance team for the Super Bowl has already picked up 623,000 views.
Why not advertise with Facebook Live?
And here’s another example. After the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs to advance to the conference championship game with New England, star wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a 17-minute (!!!) Facebook Live feed from the Pittsburgh locker room. During the whole feed, he kept telling people how many viewers were watching him live – at one point, he was up to 44,000 viewers on his live stream. Overall, the video picked up 1.1 million views and was shared 20,000 times.
Immediately, it’s possible to see that the payoff of promoting an athlete’s Facebook Live feed could be much higher than the payoff of buying a $5 million Super Bowl ad. Or, at least, way more affordable. Imagine the cost of a 17-minute ad during the Super Bowl!
Watching the Super Bowl on several screens at once
Finally, the way the nation watches the Super Bowl has changed. Gone are the days when people were glued to the screen for 3+ hours, watching every play and every commercial. The latest statistics show that 78 percent of fans will be busy on social media as soon as the game begins.
And half of all fans watching the game will be at a Super Bowl party, where they no doubt will be messaging their friends after a big play or sending funny tweets or GIFs when their team scores. It just seems like there’s a way for brands to insert themselves into these social conversations without actually having to pay for an ad.
At some point, of course, advertisers will decide that it’s just way too expensive to plunk down $5 million on a Super Bowl ad, especially when so many social media video tools exist that are (for now) absolutely free.