Approximately 44 minutes and 40
seconds of advertising aired during Super Bowl XLIV.
Given the Wall
recent revelation that there are only about 11
minutes of action
in an NFL game, the ratio of time spent watching ads vs. watching the
actual action is worth a mention. And if you were one of the people who
tuned in throughout halftime and the commercial break that immediately
followed the game, you watched 56 minutes and 5 seconds of commercials.
That means roughly five times
more time was spent moving product than moving the football.
The following table shows the
total number of advertisements
during the game. The categories are self-explanatory, with a few
exceptions. Promo means self-promotional ads run by CBS and the NFL,
.com/tech are ads for any online or technology-based product/company,
and car includes both car and tire ads.
Commercials during halftime
and the final commercial break
following the fourth quarter are included, but in-game promotions are
||No. of ads
From these figures, it looks
like CBS and the NFL spent the most time selling themselves, while
technology and car products constituted large fractions of the overall
commercial pool as well.
But not all ads are equal. A
five-second blurb for CSI:Miami is very different from a 60-second
Google marriage montage (by the way, am I the only one who thought that
ad should have ended with the cursor clicking I'm
Additionally, the placement
of the ads within the game can reveal the advertisers' thought process
With that in mind, below is a
layout of how many seconds of advertising occurred in each quarter of
the game, according to category. Some commercial lengths are rounded;
for example, 29- and 31-second ads are rounded to 30 seconds.
When you look at the overall
time spent by category, CBS doesn’t look like it hogged the
spotlight quite as much. This is because many of their ads were short
-- 5-to-10 second promotions, rather than the long, blockbuster
Clydesdale advertisements for a company like Anheuser-Busch (the
leading sponsor). That being said, car and .com/tech spots were still
dominant with almost 25 minutes of tube-time between them.
Some interesting trends:
CBS stepped up its promotions after the first half, with only 2:45 of
self-promo in the first two quarters compared to 4:40 in the last two
ads were much more concentrated towards the end, while beverage ads
decreased consistently as the game progressed. This could be based on
the notion that people are most thirsty when they are eating, which
typically happens right before or during the early parts of the game.
Perhaps car companies want to target consumers towards the end of games
once their minds are off of beer (which made up 75 percent of the
Food ads showed an
interesting approach, with over two minutes of ads in each of the first
and fourth quarters, but only half a minute in between. Perhaps they
were playing to the idea that people get up to eat before and after the
game? Or maybe they were just adhering to the psychological phenomenon
where the most memorable parts of an event are the beginning and end?
Regardless of what you make
of all these trends and figures, the one undeniable truth in
advertising is that time is money. If MSNBC’s reported
estimated cost of $2.6M
for a 30-second ad
is right, then over $233 million dollars was spent on those 56 minutes
And you thought the players
Singer is a graduate of Brown University and an intern at Philly.com
Sports. You can read
his take on the "Contract year
phenomenon" on footballoutsiders.com.