Companies Benefit from Superbowl Ads but Specific ROI Tough to Determine

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 19, 2021
Companies spent $421 million for ads in Superbowl 2021, and while generally it's acknowledged that such hefty marketing investments do produce benefit, it's difficult to measure exactly how much, said the Wall Street Journal.

Part of this is due to factors out of the company's control, such as competitors' ads: One study found that buying a Superbowl commercial, at least in the case of Coca Cola, Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch, produces a 10-15 percent revenue bump for eight weeks, unless a competitor advertizes in the same game, in which case the ad actually loses the company money.

But more often the problem is that it is very difficult to determine return on investment for any marketing expenditure, a well known challenge typified by the John Wanamaker quote, "“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." While there are many different reasons for this, a major one is that it's difficult to directly attribute changes to the marketing effort. A company might release an ad one week and see sales increase the next week, and while intuitively it's easy to assume it was because of the marketing, one can't really tell for sure whether this was the case or whether it was for some other reason.

Things become even murkier in the world of digital ads. Companies spend millions upon millions of dollars in online ads every year but think: Have you, yourself, ever knowingly clicked one? Do you know anyone who has ever knowingly clicked one? The answer, if you're like most people, is no. The number of people who actually click ads is abysmal, averaging about 2 percent or even lower depending on industry. Then it gets even more confusing when accounting for fraud which, in the world of digital ads, is vast. Essentially, people are spending huge sums of money on something that might or might not work at all.

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