30 seconds. 4 million dollars. Investing suicide or genius?

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The world’s most watched sporting event returns again this Sunday, with 30 second spots costing upwards of 4 million dollars. An estimated 110 million viewers will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium.

But is the high price tag really worth it?

For some, yes. The Super Bowl offers brands an opportunity to present their products to a captive audience that is actually interested in watching the commercials. It’s a prime opportunity to increase awareness for small brands and new product launches. Pistachios experienced a sales gain of 18% as a direct result of their “PSY” Super Bowl ad in 2013.

70% of American viewers pay attention to Super Bowl advertising.

According to a Venables Bell & Partners study, over half of viewers will rewatch ads, and 77% will share ads on Facebook. Take the 110 million viewers, multiply by the average number of friends and the percentage sharing ads on social media, and what do you get? 3.9 billion impressions. At $4 million per ad, that comes out to less than 1 cent per impression; however, this high-ticket investment is certainly not without risk.

Just as the opportunity for success is great, so is the potential for scrutiny.

Remember Groupon’s 2011 “Tibet” ad? The backlash and claims of racism caused Groupon to pull the campaign, which seemed to make light of oppression in Tibet while highlighting the luxuries of western culture.  While many ads leave something to be desired, not all tank.

Oreo, the widely acclaimed “winner” of the Super Bowl, proved how important it is for brands to leverage social media platforms and integrate them into their marketing efforts.  Their timely live tweet response to the blackout, “You can still dunk in the dark,” garnered over 15,000 retweets and was the talk of the advertising town for the rest of the year.

Creating buzz is no longer just about a great ad.

With the immense pressure to deliver in this sink or swim environment, brands must not only carefully plan and coordinate their advertising efforts but also integrate their messaging in other platforms to reach their audience in real-time. The immediacy with which Oreo reacted to the Super Bowl blackout put their brand front and center, engaging with the audience where they were plugged in – social media.

Are you in the 70% looking forward to Super Bowl ads? Do you have a favorite Super Bowl ad? Share your thoughts in the comments below!