Priciest ever Super Bowl ads sell out

CBS finds plenty of buyers at an average price of $3.7 million to $3.8 million -- a 10% jump from last year.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 9, 2013 11:57AM

Men watching television, holding beers -- Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy, Cultura, Getty ImagesThe Super Bowl has never been a cheap place to advertise, but this year it's setting a record. Even at the game's highest rates ever, CBS has sold out of commercial time.

The average 30-second spot in the Feb. 3 game has sold for an average of $3.7 million to $3.8 million, with a few spots going for "well over $4 million," CBS Corp. (CBS) chairman Leslie Moonves said.

That's a 10% bump from last year's average rate of $3.44 million, according to data from Nielsen. 

By comparison, prime-time television's priciest advertising time is a relative bargain: about $545,000 for 30 seconds of time on "Sunday Night Football," according to Advertising Age. The most expensive non-sports show in primetime is "American Idol," which fetches about $340,000 per 30-second spot. 

So who's shelling out the big bucks to get in front of Super Bowl viewers? 

This year's game will feature commercials from returning advertisers, such as GoDaddy and Coca-Cola (KO). One big brand -- Anheuser-Busch (BUD) -- plans to use game to introduce a new beer, Budweiser Black Crown, to viewers. 

Super Bowl commercial time has crept up in price since the 1960s, when marketers could get in front of viewers for under $80,000. Yet it's not always been a steady climb: The game's ad price stalled out at an average of $2.2 million per spot from 2000-2002, when the advertising industry was in a tailspin following the dot-com bust. 

The so-called dot-com Super Bowl of 2000 proved that buying airtime in the game doesn't always translate into success. While 19 online start-ups bought into the game that year, many of them, such as, didn't exist a decade later

Yet for marketers like SodaStream (SODA), which want to get their established brands in front of more consumers, the Super Bowl might just be the ticket. 

"We expect that our current campaign, of which the Super Bowl is an important part, will help lead to more sales of our soda makers, which in turn lead to sales of our flavors, CO2 refills and bottles," wrote SodaStream spokesman in an email to MSN Money Now. 

While ratings will be influenced by the appeal of the teams who make it to the Super Bowl, the marketers can point to the game's historical viewership as a reason for spending more. The game last year was watched by a record 111.3 million viewers, and marked the seventh year in a row that the Super Bowl gained viewers, according to Nielsen.

More on Money Now

Jan 9, 2013 6:51PM
Isn't it amazing while many companies complain about having to provide health insurance for their employees, those same companies think nothing of paying the highest prices EVER for a Super Bowl ad?

Where have our priorities gone?

Jan 10, 2013 1:21PM
allthough what i read is true on the cost of advertising---it brings up the thought  how can the buisness verify the cost or is it the old addage in play again there wa one bail out so why cant there be a second bailout---show me what is different today after the bailouts--that tell us the second bailout is myth.the same people are still at the helm calling the shots that were the mister do goods on tthe first bail out.Enough said.
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