02/10/2005: Thought for the Day:
Superficially, a Super Bowl buy would seem a straightforwardly smart thing for an advertiser to do, because the Super Bowl usually reaches a bigger audience than anything else on TV. But advertisers don't have unlimited dollars to spend. Consequently, they tend to focus on the cost of an advertisement per thousand people it reaches, a statistic called the "CPM." The Super Bowl's CPM has (factoring out inflation) tripled since the first Super Bowl aired in 1970. According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, that's one-and-a-half times the increase in CPM for prime-time network programming in general. Is the higher price justified?
Late last month, Broadcasting & Cable reported on an interesting experiment. It asked an ad agency called Starcom to enter Nielsen ratings data from last year's Super Bowl time slot into a computer to see whether the computer could "beat" a Super Bowl ad buy. The average price of a Super Bowl ad last year was $2.30 million per 30-second spot. (The price this year climbed to $2.40 million per 30-second spot.) Starcom fed that into the computer, too. Then it set about trying to see whether, by "spending" the same amount on counter-programming that other networks and cable channels ran against the Super Bowl, the computer could exceed the Super Bowl's slice of the audience that advertisers care about: adults between the ages of 18 and 49.
It wasn't even close. The computer's Super Bowl ad buy reached 29 percent of adults 18-49; the computer's counter-programming ad buy reached 47.3 percent of adults 18-49. In essence, buying ad time on various TV shows that were supposedly going unwatched--because "everybody" was watching the Super Bowl--would have enabled advertisers to reach 60 percent more potential customers.
Len on 02.10.05 @ 06:32 AM CST