Share with your friends


Analytics Magazine

Are Super Bowl ads worth it? New research suggests benefits persist

Photo courtesy of ThinkStock

On Feb. 4, more than 40 percent of U.S. households will watch the 2018 Super Bowl game on TV. Advertisers will pay up to $4 million for a 30-second spot during the telecast. Is the high cost of advertising worth it?

A new study finds that the benefits from Super Bowl ads persist well into the year with increased sales during other sporting events. Further, the research finds that the gains in sales are much more substantial when the advertiser is the sole advertiser from its market category or niche in a particular event.

The study, “Super Bowl Ads,” which will be published in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, is co-authored by Wesley Hartmann of Stanford University and Daniel Klapper of Humboldt University in Germany.

The authors explore the relationship between Super Bowl viewership across the top 56 advertising markets within the United States and corresponding sales in these markets for advertised brands throughout the year from 2006-2011. In particular, they study the beer and soda categories where there is ongoing consumption over the year to evaluate the persistent effect of the ad on consumption.

A challenge in measuring the gains from Super Bowl ads is that most advertisers typically advertise on the Super Bowl every year, so one cannot directly measure how sales change when there are ads or not. The authors cleverly exploit the variation in the level of viewership across markets as a function of the popularity of the teams playing in the Super Bowl to isolate the sales effects of Super Bowl ads.

“Our strategy is pretty intuitive,” Hartmann explains. “When the San Francisco 49ers returned to the Super Bowl in 2013 after many years, viewership in San Francisco and cities with large numbers of 49ers fans increases. If the ads are effective, then we should see a greater increase in advertisers’ sales in those cities, relative to those cities where the 49ers are not popular.”

The analysis yields interesting results around consumption during the Super Bowl week and persistent effects over the year. Brands like Budweiser and Pepsi, which have a long association with Super Bowl advertising over many years, see an increase in sales during Super Bowl week even though the purchases themselves were made prior to the event and watching the ad. The authors estimate that sales of Budweiser can increase as much as 10 six-packs per thousand households for a 10-point increase in ratings during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola, in contrast, which is not as strongly associated with the Super Bowl, does not get such a bump in sales during Super Bowl week prior to the game.

But there is more; the ad keeps giving in sales over the year. The authors find a substantial increase in sales in markets where Super Bowl viewing was higher during subsequent sporting events such as the NCAA’s “March Madness,” NBA games and into the MLB season. Specifically, Budweiser volume and revenues can increase up to 3.9 percent and 4.7 percent respectively in response to Super Bowl advertising during specific later weeks for a 10-point increase in Super Bowl ratings.

Klapper notes, “As the exclusive beer advertiser in the Super Bowl for many years, Budweiser outperforms competitors for consumption during the Super Bowl. Our findings suggest that there may be value for advertisers to negotiate exclusive advertising rights within a category to generate greater long-term value, and it may make sense for the telecaster to offer such exclusive rights at a higher price. However, even though Coke does not exhibit increased consumption during the week prior to the game despite years of advertising during it, Super Bowl ads do help sell Coke after the game, especially among sports fans.”

The authors note that more research is needed on other categories, as well as additional effects of the ads. Hartmann notes, “Our research focused on the effects for only a certain type of established brand with ongoing consumption. More research is needed to study the effects for advertisers who use the mass viewership of the Super Bowl to fast-track awareness and recognition for new brands.”

Klapper added, “For some type of ads, there is a large social media multiplier by provoking interest and subsequent conversations on social media and mass media, that could be independent of Super Bowl viewership. That is good news for advertisers as it suggests that our estimates are only a lower bound of the benefits of Super Bowl advertising.”

The full study is available here.

Related Posts

  • 57
    Does advertising work? Few will deny that advertising plays an important role in building awareness. The idiom, “out of sight, out of mind,” speaks to the importance of being seen in order to even be thought of. Looking back over the years, however, there’s a strong case to be made…
    Tags: advertising, analytics, marketing
  • 49
    Averages lie to you. One of our publishing clients looked at the average sell-through rate of its online advertising inventory and noted it was 70 percent. “We can launch a metered paywall, and as long as we do not lose more than 30 percent of our inventory, the lost advertising…
    Tags: advertising, analytics, marketing
  • 48
    Among the many factors that impact digital marketing and online advertising strategy, a new study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science provides insight to a growing trend among firms and big brands: weather-based advertising. According to the study, certain weather conditions are more amenable for consumer responses to mobile marketing…
    Tags: marketing, advertising, science
  • 45
    Account-based marketing (ABM) – and the related technology of predictive lead scoring – is dramatically changing the face of sales and marketing. The difference is like spearfishing when all you’ve known before is dragging a net. It’s much more precise and uses analytical processes to ensure that your efforts are…
    Tags: sales, marketing, analytics
  • 41
    The consumer goods industry thrived for years on its ability to please the average shopper. From toothpaste to soap powder, it knew how to give people what they wanted – and how to sweeten the purchase with the right price, a tempting discount or a great deal. But for the…
    Tags: analytics, marketing


FCC wins 2018 INFORMS Edelman Award

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) won the 2018 Franz Edelman Award for its use of operations research (O.R.) as part of a revolutionary approach to address the rapidly growing need for additional wireless spectrum in the United States and Canada. The prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in advanced analytics, O.R. and management science, was presented by INFORMS at the Edelman Gala held April 16 in Baltimore in conjunction with the 2018 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research. Read more →

BNSF Railway receives 2018 INFORMS Prize

BNSF Railway was awarded the 2018 INFORMS Prize for its pioneering and enduring integration of operations research (O.R.) and analytics programs throughout the organization. The prize was presented at the Edelman Gala held April 16 in Baltimore in conjunction with the 2018 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research. Read more →

Ethics article earns Mission Award from Notre Dame

An article co-authored by Scott Nestler and David Hunt, both longtime and active members of INFORMS, was named a winner of the Mission Award from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. The article, “Using INFORMS ethics guidelines in the classroom,” appeared in the February 2017 issue of OR/MS Today (the INFORMS membership magazine). The Mission Award recognizes one or more Notre Dame faculty members for a specific research work that contributes to the common good. Read more →



2018 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research
April 15-17, 2018, Baltimore


CAP® Exam computer-based testing sites are available in 700 locations worldwide. Take the exam close to home and on your schedule:

For more information, go to