Today is Superbowl Sunday, the purest remaining form of mass marketing we have. There has been a lot of hype this year about the heavy price tag for commercial airtime. Averaging $3.5M for 30 seconds of time during the game is expensive. However, when you consider the 111M viewers who tuned in for the 2011 match, it's actually rather cost effective.
In marketing, there is a formula we use to determine cost effectiveness; it's called Cost Per Thousand, or CPM. In a nutshell, it considers both the cost for the airtime, ad space, etc as well as the eyeballs anticipated to land on the ad. This formula tells us how much it costs to reach 1000 sets of eyeballs, and allows us to decide what is cost effective, and what is not.
The 2012 Superbowl brings a CPM, or cost per 1000 eyeballs of $27. That means that for every 1000 viewers, advertisers will pay $27 to reach them (this does not include production). By comparison, a "hit" television program during a regular weekday evening brings a CPM of $35, and the Oscars bring a CPM of $37. This formula is invaluable because it allows us to see that if you can afford it, and it makes sense for your company, Superbowl advertising is fairly cost effective by comparison.
I'm ready to tune into the big game this year for the commercials. The football is really a marginally-added bonus. There's some controversy surrounding this year's advertising, and I will enjoy my front-row seat.