Super Bowl Ads Are Selling Fast

Sep 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Fox Broadcasting Co.’s inventory of advertising time is already almost half sold for the 2005 Super Bowl, which appears likely to include the return of dot-com companies as advertisers.

Two relatively new Internet companies that have never advertised in the Super Bowl -Careerbuilder.com and GameznFlix.com-have bought commercial time during Super Bowl XXXIX, scheduled for Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla. Careerbuilder is an Internet employment Web site owned by three major newspaper chains: Gannett Co., Tribune Co and Knight-Ridder. GameznFlix is a 2-year-old online DVD and game retailer.

The return of two Internet companies is still a far cry from the heyday in 2000, when 20 dot-com advertisers rushed to be in the game, sending prices skyrocketing. Media agency analysts believe the return of Internet businesses signals renewed growth for the sector. Other Internet companies are expected to buy into the game in the months ahead.

Separately, Fox has concluded a major deal with OMD USA, the large media agency that typically has the most Super Bowl advertisers. OMD’s clients include PepsiCo, Visa USA, Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut and Universal Pictures. OMD usually buys about 15 30-second commercial spots during the Super Bowl, or around 25 percent of the show’s inventory. Anheuser-Busch, which typically buys 10 commercials in the show, does its Super Bowl deals years in advance, a spokesman said.

Typically, 60 30-second commercial units are sold in the Super Bowl. Executives said advertisers paid from $2.2 million to $2.4 million per 30-second spot, slightly up on prices of a year ago.

OMD and Fox executives wouldn’t comment on specifics regarding their Super Bowl deals.

In 2000, when the Internet bubble was still aloft, ABC aired the Super Bowl. Thanks to the dot-com money, prices rose to a record $3 million for a 30-second spot. ABC wisely made those companies pay upfront.

After the dot-com crash, virtually all of the Super Bowl advertisers went out of business. In recent years, only a small number of established companies, such as Yahoo!, Monster.com and AOL have bought into the game.

Fox is on pace to match or exceed CBS’s sales in the Super Bowl last year. Still, media executives warn that advertisers may change their minds. “It’s still a huge nut for advertisers,” said Rino Scanzoni, president of national broadcast for Mediaedge:cia. “Advertisers who have jumped in could jump out. There hasn’t been one Super Bowl where advertisers weren’t looking to sell off units in the weeks before the game.”

GameznFlix is looking to capitalize in the months leading up to the Super Bowl by running a contest in which one customer will get the chance to appear in its Super Bowl spot. GameznFlix bought a 30-second ad to air during the fourth quarter of the game-typically the most inexpensive commercial period in the broadcast (because the game is often so one-sided, viewers tune out late in the game). The company did not respond to e-mail concerning its involvement.