Super Bowl ad price falls in commercial slowdown

The price of a 30-second slot in the commercial breaks of this year’s Super Bowl has fallen for only the second time in the event’s history.

Advertisers are paying between $2.5m and $2.8m per appearance, to be broadcast during the American football championship game on 7 February, compared to an average cost last year that topped $3m.

The event is a bellwether for the advertising industry, and one of the last remaining opportunities guaranteeing a mass audience in an increasingly fragmented media landscape. An estimated 100 million viewers will tune in, and the ads are almost as much talked about as the game itself. Brands vie to air the funniest or the cleverest commercial, which can now have a long second life on the internet.

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi is not advertising its soft drinks during the game, and General Motors, another major advertiser from previous years, is again not taking part, having dropped out in 2009 because of its financial difficulties. FedEx, too, another traditional advertiser, passed up the opportunity.

None the less, broadcaster CBS says it has now nearly sold out the 62 slots available – a better position at this distance from the event than rival NBC had managed last year.

The consulting firm TNS Media Intelligence, in a report on the cost of Super Bowl advertising, says that the recessionary environment meant that CBS needed to offer special deals to tempt advertisers, but it is still offers an unparalleled opportunity for brand marketing efforts. The cost of a 30-second slot is still one-third higher than a decade ago.

“The Super Bowl remains a singular event for engaging the broadest number of consumers at one time,” said Mark Nesbitt, president of TNS Media Intelligence. “Because it is viewed live and experienced by a majority of the country at the same time, a commercial presence on the broadcast has great significance and impact for a brand.”