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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Jan 30, 2015 8 min read

Inbound Marketing Won't Be At The Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLIXA quick inbound marketing reality check: What is the goal for any marketing tactic like TV advertising? Answer: To generate leads!

This time of year I have to check because, on Sunday, a bunch of businesses are about to blow a ton of money on something other than our agreed upon goal.

Every year, I take this opportunity to rail on the ridiculousness that is known as Super Bowl advertising.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the big game. I love pro football. I even love watching the Super Bowl ads. But, what I don’t understand is the decision-making process that goes into approving a $4.5 million advertising spend for a 30-second ad that won’t even be seen by the estimated audience.

You do know that you pay for most traditional advertising based on a model called CPM, which stands for Cost Per Mille (in English, this means the cost to reach 1,000 viewers). The average CPM for the 2015 Super Bowl is $37.35, which makes a $4.5 million ad buy appropriate only if it delivers 120.5 million viewers. There is a great article that breaks down the non-economics even better. Click here to read it.

I understand the draw. If I could get my business in front of 120 million people (the estimated viewing audience for this week’s game), I could drive a lot of business. But, here’s the inherent challenge with this kind of thinking and this traditional type of advertising revenue model. It’s very simple: You have to pay for all 120 million people even though a very large percentage of them will NEVER even see your ad.

At this point, you might be wondering what I’m rambling on about. After all, if they say 120 million people watch the game, they must have data or ratings or something to support that. Sure, they do. And I’m also sure that 120 million TVs will be on during the game. But, we’re not selling products and services to machines; we’re selling to people. So, if people aren’t watching or don’t care about our product, we’re overpaying for a rented audience.

Here’s a much more realistic example. First, let’s look at a partial list of advertisers – this will be fun.

  • Avocados From Mexico – one 30-second spot
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev – seven 30-second spots
  • BMW – one 60-second spot
  • Carnival Cruise Lines – one 60-second spot
  • Coca-Cola – one 60-second spot

Doritos, Dove, Esurance, GoDaddy, Kia – the list goes on and on. We don’t have to look too far to come up with a compelling reason for why at least some of these companies might have misappropriated their marketing money.

Mexican AvocadoAvocados From Mexico ... Let me start by saying that I love Mexican avocados. In fact, I love them so much that watching an ad isn’t going to make me buy any more or less when I go to the supermarket. So, now we know that within the 120 million viewers for whom advertisers are paying to get their message to, there's a percentage of people that are already customers. Let’s be super conservative and say it’s 5% in this case.

Now, what about the people who hate avocados or are allergic to them – and those with family members who hate or are allergic to them? I did some research and learned that, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, not more than 2% of adults in the US observe symptoms of food allergies. Further studies showed that among those patients diagnosed with food allergies, less than 10 percent are allergic to avocado.

However, 2% of 120 million is 2.4 million. And 10% of that is 240,000 viewers – all of whom are already opted out of any messaging around avocados. Let’s double that number to take into consideration all of the people who actually hate avocados.

To summarize, if you combine the 480,000 people who hate or are allergic to avocados with the 1.2 million people who are already avocado lovers, you have a grand total of 1.68 million people – all of whom are being "paid for" with advertising and who may never eat a single avocado or who already buy them.

Now, what about the people who miss the ad altogether? You know the types – talking during the ads or getting up to grab food or take a bathroom break. I tried to do some research on this, but there just didn’t seem to be any stats on the percentage of people who don’t pay attention to the ads. So, let’s be super conservative again and say 5%, or 6 million people. This brings our total number of viewers who won’t be influenced by the ads to a whopping 7.68 million.

Now that we agree you’re overpaying for attention, let’s think more along the lines of revenue. How many of the 120 million people do you think are going to run out and buy avocados as a result of the ad? I did some research here, too, and all I could find was that the Super Bowl is an incredibly busy day for the avocado, with something like 40 million avocados consumed on Sunday alone. That’s great, but wouldn’t this mean that the ads should come a few days before the actual game?

I hope you’re having as much fun reading this as I am writing it. I know it’s a little humorous and frivolous with all the comparisons. Yet, the bottom line is still quite relevant: Don’t waste money on a single marketing tactic like a Super Bowl ad if your goal is to drive revenue. Yes, we might all talk about the Avocados From Mexico ad on Monday morning, but I wouldn’t expect to see a huge jump in avocado sales later Monday afternoon while dinner is being prepared.

Start Today Tip – You have to match your investment in marketing to the expected revenue. Today, inbound marketing makes it easy to predict. No one is going to have any idea how much avocado sales will increase as a result of their $4.5 million ad investment. Don’t make the same mistake. Today, all of your marketing tactics can be directly tied to visitors, leads and projected sales. If you need help making those connections, let us know. We're happy to show you some examples from similar businesses.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.