The Value of a Super Bowl Viewer vs. an American Idol Viewer

If you were an advertiser, what would you pay to reach 1,000 viewers of the 2009 Super Bowl? How much would you pay to reach 1,000 viewers of American Idol?

This is a question advertisers ask themselves as they go about their media buying planning. A 30-second commercial for the 2009 Super Bowl will cost advertisers $3 million. Assuming this ad will reach about 92 million viewers, the cost for each viewer is about $0.0336 (3.36 cents) or $32.61 dollars to reach 1,000 people.

The same commercial costs advertisers about $700,000 on American idol. On average, American Idol is watched by 30 million people. This breaks down to a cost of $23.33 for each 1,000 viewers.

(For a point of comparison, a commercial running on American Idol at the same cost per viewer as a Super Bowl ad would be $978,300, or almost 40% more.)

I know a lot of beer ads are run on the Super Bowl (Budweiser is running 9 ads for a total cost of $27 million), but I haven’t paid much attention to American Idol ads. I know Coca-Cola is a sponsor of the competition, and I would guess lower-cost cars are advertised on Idol, but beyond that I don’t know what is sold on the show.

My guess is that part of the 40% premium is a higher value on the Super Bowl’s demographic, and another part is that the Super Bowl is watched by many for the ads rather than the game. If a company develops a great commercial, they can get much more value out of the commercial than the airing of the commercial. Think about it. How many other times during the year do people come to the office and talk about the commercials they saw the day before?

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