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Almost 3 in 4 adults (72%) in the US plan to watch Super Bowl 53 this Sunday, according to an NRF survey of more than 7,000 US adults. While this translates to about 182.5 million adults planning to watch the game, that figure is actually down slightly from last year’s projected viewership of 188.5 million. The amount of planned retail spending surrounding the game has also dropped from 2018’s $15.3 billion to $14.8 billion.

The average spending per person of $81 has not changed from last year, though – with the total projected figure down only due to slightly smaller forecasted viewing figures. Meanwhile, unlike last year’s survey, which found 25-34-year-olds spending the most, 35-44-year-olds are projected to spend more than other age groups this year, at $123.26. Once again this year, the most popular spending area, by 79%, will be on food and beverages.

Super Bowl Ad Stats

Super Bowl ad prices continue to soar. 2018’s Super Bowl 52 saw the average price for a 30-second spot hit a record-breaking $5.25 million, per the latest research from Kantar Media. This translates into almost a doubling of price over the past decade. This is a phenomenon reserved for the Super Bowl, as average primetime ad rates fell by 12% during the same period.

The total ad time from the start to finish of Super Bowl 52 was 51 minutes and 20 seconds. While this is only 10 seconds less than the total ad time in 2017 the comparison between the number of ad spots is considerable. In 2017, there were 102 ad spots while in 2018 that number dropped to 86.

2017 remains the top year for Super Bowl ad revenue ($534 million), but 2018 did not fair too poorly, with what amounts to the second highest total revenue, at $482 million. However, when broken down, pre/post game revenue last year was the lowest seen since 2015, at $74 million (compared to 2017’s $115 million), while in-game ad revenue was at a respectable $408 million.

Here are some other stats from Kantar Media’s latest annual analysis:

  • Thirty-second ads are still the norm with half (51%) of ads in last year’s big game being that length. However, longer ads (60-second or more) are definitely permeating the event to a bigger extent, jumping to almost a third (31%) from about a fifth (19%) the year prior.
  • While Anheuser-Busch InBev remained on top of the Super Bowl spenders list in 2018, Fiat Chrysler jumped from the fourth position in 2017 to tie Anheuser-Busch, with each spending $42 million.
  • 2018 saw only three first-time advertisers – a significant drop from previous years (2015: 11; 2016: 10; 2017: 10).
  • As it has been since 2011, Auto Manufacturers remained the top advertising category last year. Six automakers ran ads in 2018 for a total spend of $94.2 million. Motion Pictures and Food (excluding candy) tied for the second place among advertising categories, each having a total spend of $26.2 million.

The $408 million spent on in-game advertising last year exceeded all the money invested across the 5-game World Series, which totaled $305 million.

Consumer Attitudes Towards Advertising

What’s more important? The actual sport, or all of the surrounding fanfare (and ads)? When the NRF fielded its survey and asked respondents what was the most important part of the Super Bowl, less than half (43%) named the game itself. At 23%, commercials are considered the second-most important part of the event, followed by getting together with friends (14%), the halftime show (13%) and fun food (7%).

Three-quarters (76%) of respondents see Super Bowl ads as entertainment, with far fewer (10%) saying they are influenced to make a purchase. However, 17% of respondents 17-34 years old said commercials influence them to buy, and another 16% report that they’re inspired to search online for more information.

Ad Effectiveness

Last year Unruly determined that brand recall of Super Bowl 51 ads was actually 15% lower than the US average. However, data from Super Bowl 52 [download page] revealed that brand recall was on the rise, as 78% of viewers were able to correctly identify the brands behind the ads.

It’s possible that brand recall went up as ads regained their humorous nature. 2017’s Super Bowl ads took a turn for the serious but 2018’s were back to showing humor. Unruly determined that Super Bowl 52 ads were 150% more humorous than ads in the US typically are.

Going against the trend for longer ads, Unruly also found that shorter ads can be as effective, if not more effective, than longer ads. In fact, super short ads (0-6 seconds) are more effective for increasing purchase intent than longer ads (7-120 seconds), according to Unruly’s analysis.

Here are some other findings from Unruly’s report that may have an impact on ad effectiveness:

  • 1 in 5 Super Bowl viewers do not watch TV regularly.
  • About half (49%) of viewers ages 25-44 follow Super Bowl coverage on sports sites, news sites and other sites across the web.
  • Roughly 3 in 5 (58.4%) football fans prefer to watch video on mobile phones, compared to 53.2% of average viewers.

Ace Metrix has also noted that 2018’s ads relied more on humor, but also used sentimentality and emotion to gain attention. In fact, the ad they named the top breakthrough ad of 2018’s Super Bowl, Toyota’s “Good Odds,” used emotion to garner high points in both attention and likeability.

Data from Ace Metrix indicates that, as determined in other studies, ad length is important. The impact of ad length on effectiveness is possibly determined by the message the advertiser is trying to convey. In contrast to Unruly’s findings, Ace Metrix’s breakthrough ads tended to be longer… Of the top 10 breakthrough ads, only 2 were less than one minute in length. The data also indicates that the top message-forward ads (i.e. those that put a story or narrative ahead of their brand placement, such as Toyota’s “Good Odds” ad) were one minute in length. However, for the most memorable ads, the majority of the top 5 ads (3) were 30 seconds in length.

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