When thinking about football and the Super Bowl, a person’s mind typically goes to the obvious: who’s going to take home the Lombardi Trophy? But with a game that had 98.2 million people glued to the television for hours in 2019, kick-off for advertisers starts a whole lot earlier than it does for the actual players. After all, it would be a missed opportunity for advertisers to skip running ads during an event that garners so much attention. In fact, Super Bowl commercials have become such a staple in the advertising industry because a one-minute commercial spot can sell for up to $10 million.
So you can only imagine what happened this year when Fox Sports announced that the network would be cutting down the amount of commercial breaks during the broadcast from its regular five per quarter to four. Advertisers began chomping at the bit to get one of the highly coveted commercial spots.
According to Johnson & Wales University advertising professor and online instructor, Oscar Chilabato, the reason why advertisers consider the Super Bowl to be the gold standard for reaching audiences is simple.
“The fact is that it [the Super Bowl] still generates the largest audience to watch one program at any one time,” Chilabato explained, adding that it’s a “showcase for advertisement agencies and brands to create immediate awareness and gain traction with earned media.”
So, when the announcement from the network came out this season about the elimination of commercial breaks, companies began scrambling. According to an article from Variety, Fox Sports announced in November that they were officially sold out of all of their available commercial slots for the Super Bowl. This is a sharp contrast to years prior—when other networks that hosted the big game couldn’t make the same announcement until just days before the event.
Timing is Key
When Fox announced the decrease in commercial breaks, they did say that the same amount of slots typically available would still be for sale. Instead, to make up for the difference they would be simply extending each break to accommodate all of the slots. So with the same amount of slots open, what’s the big rush for companies to buy time?
According to Chilabato, although millions of people will be watching the same game, companies want to maximize the potential that as many eyes as possible see their commercial.
“Advertisers had to line up early to get premium positions within those slots,” he said. For companies, Chilabato said the key was to try to get the spots when people will most likely still be looking at the screen like the “first or last spot within the grouping.”
So this year when you’re watching the big game and the commercials come on, maybe give it a second glance. After all, these companies are paying millions for your attention.
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