Is the Super Bowl Ad Spend Really Worth It?


It's that time of year again – the start of February. The unofficial U.S. holiday known as "The Big Game." And while an estimated +150 million viewers will gather worldwide, we can’t help but wonder if $5 million spent on a 30-second ad spot couldn’t be put to better use.

Considering the benefits, one could argue that there is tremendous brand value if you can fit a Big Game ad into your budgets. Of the estimated 110 million U.S. viewers, 46% have stated they watch the game specifically for the commercials. What other time of year do audiences around the country elect to watch commercials? That’s a lot of eyeballs on your brand.

Beyond brand awareness, Americans also love to spend in preparation for the game. Excluding Christmas, at $14 billion in consumer spending, it’s the fourth-largest “season” of the year just behind Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day.

So yes ­– we get it. A spot during the game can be very valuable.

But here’s the thing: Today’s consumers want to engage with brands that actually stand for something. We, as individuals, are the heroes of our own story and the world could be a better place as a result of our contributions. We choose to associate with brands that fit within this deeply personal expression of ourselves.

So if you’re asking us, there are better ways to spend $5 million.

1. Beyond simply selling more widgets, figure out what your brand stands for.

Develop a narrative, find your voice, connect with a social cause and learn how to tell your brand story in a way that engages your consumer. Gone are the days when you could compete solely on price and selection (you can thank Amazon for that).

Content needs to become an organizational priority, and you should look to long-term plans for how your brand can consistently produce fresh, valuable content in order to stay relevant. In the near term, many brands can look to partner with influencers in the digital space who are already creating great user-generated content (UGC) on a continuous basis. They have authentic voices, loyal fan bases and can be great partners if/when their values align with those of your brand.

2. Invest in platforms and technology that allow you to put your customer data to good use by creating highly personalized and tailored brand experiences.

Today’s consumers expect and demand some degree of personalization from their trusted retailers and brands. Consumers are voluntarily providing data to enhance their digital shopping experience. In fact, 41% of consumers said they ditched a company because of “poor personalization and lack of trust”.

So if you know a customer lives in the Southwestern United States, has two kids in middle school, a cat, and mom is really into healthy eating – then why does she receive your weekly email circular with product promotional sales for cold-weather doggy vests, diapers and a case of Monster?

Personalization is the new loyalty, and consumers have been trained to provide their data to get something valuable in return. Put your brand in a position to show them you’re listening and that you care.

“...$5 million for 30 seconds may not be enough to carry your brand the other 364 days of the year.”

3. Show consumers how easy it is for your brand to fit into their lives.

Look to invest in guided selling experiences, driven by AI and machine-based learning, that simplify the decision process for customers. Expand your site search capabilities with natural language search and clean up your product attributions for enhanced product sorting/filtering. Start thinking about your brand, products and content from an auditory perspective (rather than just a visual one) as the trend of voice search via Alexa, Siri, Cortana and other smart home devices continue to gain momentum.

Don’t get us wrong, we love gathering with our friends and family to enjoy the game and watch the commercials, too. And for some brands, it makes sense to invest in airtime during the Super Bowl. But remember this – many of those brands are already investing for the long-term in deep, rich and highly personalized brand experiences that keep consumers engaged beyond the game. And if you’re not, then spending $5 million for 30 seconds may not be enough to carry your brand the other 364 days of the year.



1.      McCarthy, Niall. "Everything You Wanted To Know About The Super Bowl [Infographic]." Forbes. January 30, 2018. Accessed January 30, 2018.

        Chris Taylor, Account Director

       Chris Taylor, Account Director

Jen Licon-Conner