Friday, January 23, 2009

What’s A Second Of Time Worth Anyways?

Well, if you’re one of the advertisers in the upcoming Super Bowl, a second of time costs $100,000 (each 30-second commercial during the game is estimated to cost a record $3 million).

That’s for media only.

The cost of production is another, well, cost. The average cost of producing a national commercial these days, according to the 4A’s, is $360,000. That rounds out to $12,000 per second. Super Bowl commercials, of course, cost even more, as advertisers want to score high in the ratings that appear in the days following the game.

Many advertisers use their Super Bowl commercial as a springboard for a new campaign – surrounding it with other elements – online, print, etc. This apparently helps them to justify the $100,000 per second for airtime.

Of course, advertisers also justify the $100,000 per second by the number of viewers who will watch the game. Last year’s Super Bowl drew 97.5 million viewers. If those same numbers are reached this year, it will come out to a respectable three cents per viewer.

As for the cost of production, because most Super Bowl commercials are watched as intently—if not more so—than the game itself, advertisers are probably getting their money’s worth, as each and every second is consumed.

But the Super Bowl is an anomaly in advertising, both in cost, and in the amount of attention paid to the commercials.

Come Monday, February 2nd, everything will go back to normal. Commercials will cost less to run. And, will mostly be ignored by the majority of people who are exposed to them.

But the cost of production - $12,000 per second – will be the same.

How do agencies continue to justify $12,000/second when the viewing audience continues to fragment? And, when they have digital data in hand that shows them exactly how long viewers are watching—or not watching—the commercial for.

What is the objective of each second of a commercial that is produced? Obviously, the overall objective of the commercial is to sell more product. But it’s difficult to sell more product if the commercial isn’t watched. Which means that it can be argued that the objective of each second of a commercial is to be watched.

If you’re an advertiser, do you know if your seconds are being watched or not? TiVo can tell you. As can Visible Measures, Google Analytics and TNS. As can most any video player on any publisher’s site. As well as any on-demand platform offered by cable providers.

Are you, as an advertiser, asking for this data? And, if so, are you then holding your agency accountable for delivering what they promised they would deliver?

Viewership in the commercial.

That is, after all, their job, isn’t it? And shouldn’t they be paid based on how well they do their job?

If the agency involves viewers for thirty seconds, that commercial has a better chance of working for the advertiser than a 30-second commercial in which viewers watch only 10 seconds.

If it works better for the advertiser, shouldn’t the advertiser then be willing to pay the agency more for creating it?

In these tough economic times, accountability is becoming the main objective of any marketing manager. Marketing managers currently hold media accountable through make goods.

Maybe it’s time that they start holding creative accountable as well.

After all, if a second of time is worth $12,000, the question all advertisers should be asking today is a simple one.

Are you getting your money’s worth?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, getting their money's worth? I'd have to say yes. The Super Bowl is the only time of year that I actually sit still for the the commercial break.

    I think they know most people do also. I'm working for Tide To Go and we've also got a great Super Bowl commercial. You can view it now and vote for it. We're in the running for the Top 10 Super Bowl commercial of all time.

    Tell me what you think about, I know you'll fall off your seat laughing :-)