If you thought we had a lot to say about the state of 2021’s Super Bowl ad inventory in Monday’s newsletter, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Here’s what happened in Super Bowl LV adland since Marketing Brew last graced your inbox:
- Pepsi is extending its halftime show sponsorship into a “multi-platform, six-week campaign,” Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s marketing VP, told Adweek.
- And while some brands were flipping a coin to decide whether to run an ad in this year’s game, Frito-Lay bought three whole slots.
Sounds…eerily precedented, no? I’m the first to admit I didn’t have a sort-of normal Super Bowl on my 2021 bingo card.
One ad buy we saw coming: Freelance platform Fiverr announced it bought a Super Bowl spot for the first time. Last spring, when smaller brands like Headspace started making TV ad debuts left and right, I figured the trend would translate to more small brands entering the Super Bowl fray. But at least as of this morning, that hasn’t happened.
- Reminder: In spring 2020, there were pretty much no sports on TV and large brands had already cancelled an estimated $1–1.5 billion in Q3 ad commitments, reported the WSJ.
- Those cancellations caused TV ad rates to plummet, hence the smaller companies piling in.
In fact, Super Bowl ad rates are up this year: “As the Super Bowl approaches, Kantar’s new estimates show that the average cost per 30-second ad slot will hit $5.6 million this year, up 7% from $5.25 million in 2020, which was the highest-grossing year of all time,” reported eMarketer.
Searching for answers
I either severely underestimated the Super Bowl’s resilience to economic hardship…or I underestimated our industry’s ability to adapt to an enduring pandemic. Either way, I think it’s safe to say I lost my Super Bowl predictions license, so I asked a tried and true TV analyst for answers.
Ross Benes, eMarketer analyst at Insider Intelligence, broke it down for us. Turns out, uncertainty around the Super Bowl may actually drive ad prices—and overall revenue—skyward:
- “Planning campaigns became more difficult during the pandemic. Because of this, Super Bowl inventory did not sell out as fast as it normally does,” Benes said.
- Any inventory that’s not sold up front gets snatched up on the scatter market and tends to be more expensive—which could explain what’s happening here.