Here’s How Many Digital Ads You Could Buy for the Price of a Super Bowl Commercial

Brands will spend a record $5 million for a TV ad during CBS's broadcast of this year's Super Bowl, but with most of the chatter about the game happening online, Big Game marketers are also pouring big money into digital advertising.

With the price of a 30-second Super Bowl spot up a half-million dollars from a year ago, expect more brands to "ambush" this year's game with digital-heavy campaigns that are cheaper but still reach millions like Newcastle, Volvo and Esurance have in the past.

"You don't necessarily need to be in the live broadcast with the rise of the cultural wave for particular events," said Jesse Cahill, head of planning for North America at Essence. "There's a lot that happens before the event, or in the cultural zeitgeist of how people build anticipation for that event, and how that affects people when they're thinking about that event."

To find out how far $5 million actually goes when buying digital ads, Adweek asked a handful of buyers and experts (most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity) about what they could buy for the same price as a TV spot.


2.1 Million Mobile App Installs

Dentsu's mobile shop Fetch crunched the numbers and found that marketers could buy 2.1 million mobile app installs—the equivalent of 55 million clicks—for a $5 million TV spot.

The average marketer pays $2.42 for someone to download a mobile app from advertising. And every click on a mobile ad—whether it's accidental or intentional—costs 9 cents.

Fetch's numbers include app install ads bought across mobile ad networks and social platforms during January. CEO James Connelly expects prices to spike for Super Bowl mobile ads when less ad space is available.

"Last year's Super Bowl weekend saw a 24 percent increase in mobile media activity compared to the average, leading to a 20 percent increase in CPC [cost per click] rates," Connelly said.


5 Custom Twitter Emojis

Emojis are a big business for Twitter. A handful of the site's advertisers have created custom icons that require "seven-digit investments" with big ad buys on the platform—including Promoted Moments, Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets.

For the Super Bowl, Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch have created mini decals as part of their in-game activations and spots. Pepsi, for instance, will sponsor a Twitter Moment and run an emoji campaign that features a can of soda with music notes coming out of it.


12.5 Days of Sponsored Snaps

According to one media buyer, Snapchat is pitching its one-day filters that overlay graphics on photos for roughly $400,000. Users can add filters to their Snaps by swiping to the left and right after taking a picture. Presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders tested the location-based ad format recently to engage with supporters at rallies and events.

Snapchat's sponsored lenses—a separate ad format launched last year that turns selfies into branded content—cost $350,000, according to the ad buyer.

In October, the Financial Times reported that sponsored lenses cost $750,000 for big-ticket days like holidays and $450,000 on regular days, and it's likely those prices will skyrocket during the Super Bowl as more marketers look for alternatives to Twitter for real-time marketing during the game.


15 Million Search Ad Clicks

Plenty of performance-based Super Bowl advertisers including TurboTax and finance brand SoFi that traditionally lean on tactics like search marketing are instead running expensive TV ads during this year's Super Bowl.

According to Mark Ballard, senior director at Merkle, the TV investment translates into as many as 15 million search clicks.

"Depending on the advertiser's bid and ad rank, they would likely see somewhere between one-half and three-quarters of a billion search ad impressions or around 5 to 15 million search ad clicks," he said.


10.5 Premium Instagram Campaigns

Sources said the Facebook-owned photo app has been pitching Marquee, a takeover-style ad that lets brands hit a large audience with multiple pieces of creative in one day, for $475,000 per campaign.

Brands like Macy's and Michael Kors have tested it to push out short blasts of video. At $475,000, brands could buy 10-and-a-half campaigns for the price of a Super Bowl ad.


100 to 200 Snapchat Influencers

There's a good reason brands are hiring social media stars like crazy to pump out branded content: It's cheap.

Nick Cicero, founder and CEO of Delmondo, a company that matches up marketers and media brands with influencers and Snapchat analytic tools, said that $5 million could buy brands 100 to 200 influencer campaigns. Such efforts entail "Snapchat takeovers" that give social celebs the keys to a brand's account for a set period of time. With $5 million, brands could run 100 campaigns priced at $50,000 each or 200 for $25,000 each.

Cicero did not disclose pricing for specific influencers but said that "a single takeover can generate millions of views over the course of 24 hours, and with Snapchat stories ranging from between two to five minutes, viewers are highly engaged with that content."


250 Million Facebook Video Views

Marketing software company Salesforce reports that brands can buy 250 million video views with $5 millions worth of Facebook ads.

Facebook defines a view as three seconds spent watching a clip, which automatically plays as a user scrolls through a news feed. When looking at views lasting at least 75 percent of the total length of a video view, Salesforce said brands can get 71 million views from a $5 million investment.

In terms of clicks, $5 million will get you 7.7 million Facebook clicks, which measure any action people take with an ad—like clicking, liking or sharing it. 

"People will overwhelmingly spend time on two screens during Super Bowl 50—their TV and their smartphone," said Leslie Fine, vp of product for Salesforce's predictive intelligence and analytics. "Marketers that understand how and where their audiences will be interacting during the game will have the best chance to break through the noise and get in front of the right people at the right moment."


50 Tumblr Takeovers

Tumblr's "Sponsored Day" ads are promos that sit at the top of users' desktops and mobile dashboards with a promoted photo, GIF or video

According to one ad buyer, the one-day ad buy costs $100,000, meaning brands could buy nearly two months' worth of daily ads for the same price as a Big Game ad.


8 to 10 YouTube Masthead Ads

A one-day masthead placement on YouTube ranges from $500,000 to $625,000, per multiple agency execs.

While Snapchat and Facebook vie for brands' video budgets, YouTube remains a staple in marketers' strategies. For the eighth year, the Google-owned site will run its AdBlitz program, which groups all commercials in one place for consumers to vote on. During last year's game, people watched 840 million minutes of ads on the platform.

The Google-owned site will also test real-time ads this year, which will trigger an ad to automatically run a YouTube or display ad during key moments of the game.

• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.

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