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Super Bowl ad spending shows event remains crucial for brands

The news: This Sunday’s packed Super Bowl commercial lineup shows that brands and advertisers looking to capitalize on record consumer spending still look at the event as a unique opportunity to reach audiences nearing the hundreds of millions.

  • Several longtime advertising partners are returning to the game, while new players like metaverse businesses and cryptocurrency exchanges look to make the jump to the mainstream.

More on this: NBCUniversal has had two rocky sports broadcasting events in less than a year with the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics and ongoing Winter Games But the prevailing cultural relevance of the Super Bowl, as well as changes in ad placement and consumer spending, had brands jumping on board regardless.

  • Ad spots at this year’s Super Bowl were highly coveted—and expensive. The average cost of a 30-second spot at last year’s Super Bowl was about $5.5 million. This year, the cost jumped to $7 million, per Deadline.
  • Why the jump in price? The NFL’s regular season ratings reached a record high in 2021, jumping 10% compared with 2020, per CNN. For the first time, Super Bowl ad spots will be run across cable, streaming service Peacock, and Telemundo’s inaugural Spanish-language broadcast (in previous years, ads across platforms were sold separately).
  • Consumer spending also reached all-time highs this past holiday season, signaling the market’s readiness for a return to normal. US holiday shoppers were unfazed by supply chain issues and spent a record $204.5 billion online, per Adobe.

NBCU is also promising that advertising partners will be able to measure ad performance more dynamically thanks to a new partnership with, which will allow partners to better track ads in real time, per ​​Variety.

Who’s in this year? Industries that struggled during the first year of the pandemic are making a big return. Automakers such as General Motors, consumer packaged goods manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, and travel agencies including Kayak have all bought ads for the game. But newcomers are also establishing a footprint: More than 30 advertisers will make their Super Bowl debut this weekend.

  • Meta will make an appearance at the game with what will be its first major ad for the metaverse, per Ad Age. But tech companies aren’t the only ones making metaverse ad plays. Beer brand Miller Lite is skipping out on a live spot this year, instead opting to host a promotional event in the metaverse via virtual platform Decentraland, per Marketing Dive.
  • Betting service Caesars Sportsbook and Casino will also make a historic debut during the game with its own 30-second spot, fresh off its rapid success in New York state, where it and three other sportsbooks processed over $600 million in bets in the first nine days of legalization.

Looking forward: Last year’s Super Bowl ratings marked a record low for the event, but that decline has done little to affect advertisers’ willingness to take part.

  • Sports betting could also help ratings recover. Sportsbooks have advertised heavily ahead of the event, and the Super Bowl’s wide influence on even non-sports viewers could funnel even more money—and eyeballs—into the game.