By Joe Pulizzi published February 6, 2012

What Can a Super Bowl Ad Buy You in Content Marketing?

super-bowl-2012-lucas-oil-stadium-300x204So, another Super Bowl gone.  For those who advertised during the Super Bowl, the average cost of a Super Bowl ad this year was $3.5 million to promote their brand in front of 111 million viewers.

For those counting, that’s $116,000 per second.

Back in 2008 I looked at how much content marketing you could buy for the price of a Super Bowl ad.  Four years ago, the price for a 30-second-spot was $2.7 million (folks, in this market, the economy is working just fine).  That bought you A LOT of content.  Today, you can buy even more.  Here are a few examples.

  • 47 Issues of Your Own Custom Magazine.  That’s right, you can develop your own full-color 32-page print magazine delivered to 25,000 of your customers and prospects for about $3 per copy.  That includes the project management, design, editorial content, printing and postage. With the average consumer engagement of a custom magazine at around 25 minutes per person, that’s 625,000 minutes of engagement per issue, or approximately 30 million minutes of engagement over the life of your 47 issues (or better yet, about 19 hours of engagement PER PERSON).
  • 16,000 blog posts developed at an average of $225 per post. The average Content Marketing Institute blog post is shared approximately 600 times via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ over a six-month period.  That means that total shares of your blog posts would be 9.6 million.
  • 1,167 white papers developed at an average of $3,000 per white paper. Fully designed and proofed?  That would get you about 500 white papers.
  • You can get your very own Chief Content Officer to serve for you for 23 years (at an average salary of $150,000) or a fantastic managing editor for about 40 years (at approximately $90,000 per year).  For more, see the Chief Content Officer job description.  Also see “Setting Up Your Content Marketing Team“.
  • 233 to 411 webinars (depending on promotion needed).
  • 14 full-scale customer events for about 250 people each time, including about 30 speakers, multiple tracks, food and entertainment.
  • 50, 175-page books developed for your brand…including ghost writing, editing, distribution setup and more.

Just something to think about the next time you are deciding to go with traditional ad placement versus a content initiative. Remember, the content you create can be leveraged to have a much longer shelf life than just traditional ad space. When you are looking to make a decision between a number of marketing initiatives, be sure to take that into account.

Image Credit: Ken Durden /

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Michelle Hill

    Wow, that’s some ad spend for a shelf life of just a few hours! Amazing to read how much content marketing you could get for the same money with a shelf life of…hmmmm…forever.

    I know where I’d spend my money 🙂


  • Mikel.Z

    Great figures! It’s sad that traditional still feels “safe” for these company’s, at the price that has to be paid. You’d think it would be opposite.

  • Rick Sanchez

    You’re absolutely correct that a Superbowl ad is a big budget risk..though many of your assumptions leave out a lot of details.

    The shelf life of many Superbowl commercials is significantly longer than the 15-60 seconds they play. Many years later you can still find the good ones on YouTube or talked about in articles or on blogs. You also have one of the largest and most vocal audiences in the world. If you want exposure, quickly, for certain types of products and services and have the budget, a Superbowl ad can generate the attention of both media, influencers and the general public like no other.

    When was the last time a white paper generated a buzz or went viral or drove hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors to a web site? Even the best Chief Content officer is useless if you don’t have the money to get the message out and I’m sure that the great majority of companies creating Superbowl ads already have a Chief Content Officer, white papers, customer events, to go along with the ad.

    You can spend a lot of money on hundreds of Web videos, but unless you spend heavily promoting it, your chances of going viral are not much greater than your high school football team winning the Superbowl.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Rick…all great points. There is no doubt that a Superbowl ad can pay dividends and can spread out for a long time as a content asset. GoDaddy has proven that to be correct, and their Super Bowl advertising has been core to their business.

      A couple thoughts on your points –
      – All companies need someone, a Chief Content Officer or not, who has a nose for the story, and can start to take the massive amount of corporate content and make it interesting to customers, essentially solving the questions they are looking for online, and integrating that with the rest of marketing and PR.
      – A competent managing editor is, in my opinion, one of the most important positions in a marketing operation. Many big brands don’t have one. That is changing as we speak. In a recent workshop CMI gave, all 13 companies represented had an opening for a managing editor or content director position. It’s critical.
      – Viral happens after 1,000 great pieces of content.
      – Yes, I agree that most organizations need to market their content. It’s silly not to have a distribution plan for the content assets you are creating. But, once you develop your audiences for your content (like a media company does), you need to spend less to promote that content every day, since you are essentially owning your own channels and not “renting” the media anymore.
      – This “one” ebook/white paper from Dr. Helaine Smith ( has completely transformed her business. Our white paper on did the same for us. One great piece of content can make a difference. So do 1,000 tiny ones.

      Super Bowl ads are great for companies that want to reach 111 million people, but most of us need the “one” or the “few” decision makers that matter in a company. Nothing does that better than amazing, original storytelling.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Oscar Gonzalez

    Excellent list of other stuff to use your money for. But let’s not forget that many of these companies, are just looking for more brand recognition. It’s all about repetition and eyeballs, and where else can you get that other than the superbowl? Very few places… if any.

    The other thing to consider is that while it might cost you 3K for a white paper, or $300 for a blogpost, you still have to count the overhead to distribute that post. You don’t get 600 shares on your posts “just because” the overhead of establishing and working social networking relationships is also an expense.

    All in all, if it were me I wouldn’t spend money on the superbowl, but a company like Coca-cola, Ford, Audi, how can they Not?

  • Rick Clark

    The losers were those ads lacking relevant concept, decent production value and a call to action. By my count that would include most of them. “Halftime in America” – is that the best Fiat could do for Chrysler? Please. Run that supermodel with the whip creme again… at least I understood what that was all about.

  • Larry Goldman

    Joe – fun stuff, and a little sad as well (your point). Can you expand on the details around the blog costs? I am considering paying for blog writers, and your one example caught my eye. Is $225 really the going rate, or is there a range? What factors did you consider when making your calculations on that example? Thanks!

  • Julie Musial

    I believe you can state a case for both sides. Think about two things, first the only way your super bowl commercial is going viral is if it is really, really, really good. That’s a big risk. If its not good and goes viral that could do a lot of harm. Second, in every market their are also local pod breaks for smaller advertisers. These local breaks don’t cost millions but they are still very expensive. If you pointed out this article to local advertisers I think they would think twice before advertising in the Super Bowl next year. Great article.