Super Bowl Sunday Drivers

Commercials that aired during this year’s Super Bowl rang it at $5 million each. Despite the rise of internet marketing, with all its hyper-personalized content and pinpointed targeting, advertisers clamor over a 30 second tv spot that plays for the masses. Even companies thought to be the enemy of traditional marketing like Amazon, Microsoft, and even digital dating app Bumble came to play.

Super Bowl ads are not just keeping up with digital, they are thriving. MarketingWeek adjusted the first Super Bowl ads to find they would cost $300k in 2019 money. Looking within the past decade,  2010’s ads would have cost $3.4 in 2019 dollars.

MarketingWeek lists seven reasons as to why buying Super Bowl spots still works. The three most poignant are that the audience is huge and human; there’s no need to verify how much of your audience consists of bots, as is an issue in digital marketing. It brings serious upper-funnel effects and awareness for days with the opportunity for brand-building on a massive scale. Finally, the audience is engaged. The Super Bowl is the rare occurrence where the majority of viewers don’t leave the room or mute the TV during breaks, due to its rich history in unique ads. Some people watch the Super Bowl exclusively for the commercials.

Fortunately for us, there’s also a way to follow along and see what works and what doesn’t. Realeyes emotional intelligence firm ranked the Super Bowl’s ads based on effectiveness, as determined by the attention levels and emotional reactions of 1,000 US consumers measured by facial recognition technology.


Tina Gaffey, head of Customer Success at Realeyes, attributes M&M’s success to showing a highly relatable experience in an engaging and humorous matter.

The lowest performing commercial, from Bumble, couldn’t even be helped by star factor from Serena Williams. Gaffney extrapolates “the celebrity did not necessarily connect viewers to the brand, resulting in lower emotional connection to the storyline.” Another interpretation could be that a strong female voice in commercials typically dominated by beer and fast-food didn’t resonate with the audience.


From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • If you were a marketing manager who just secured a Super Bowl spot, how would you determine how much risk you and your company should take?
  • Would you rather spend $5 million on one Super Bowl ad, or 32 year’s worth of mobile video ads as pointed out by Digidays? (Or any other item from their list)