Big winner in this year’s Super Bowl: Ad clutter
It's second-most cluttered game ever, with 51 minutes and 30 seconds
February 7, 2017
Sunday’s Super Bowl will go down in the record books for a lot of reasons. It was the first to ever go to overtime, and the New England Patriots became the first team to overcome a 25-point deficit to win.
It also scored another, more dubious distinction. It set new high marks for Super Bowl clutter.
The game on Fox had the second-most amount of national commercials of any game in history, at 51 minutes and 30 seconds, according to Kantar Media.
That was just 10 seconds less than the high mark set in 2013.
But if you strip out NFL commercials and network promos, this Super Bowl had the most ad time ever from paid advertisers, at 41 minutes and 40 seconds.
That outpaced the 2014 game, also on Fox, by 40 seconds.
“Because the game went to overtime, Fox was able to insert an additional 2 minutes of paid messages and this pushed Super Bowl LI into the record books on yet another front,” notes Kantar.
In total, ads accounted for 23 percent of the broadcast, led by Anheuser-Busch’s InBev with 3 minutes, 30 seconds of advertising, and Deutsche Telekom right behind at 3 minutes.
Auto was the biggest category, with eight spots lasting 7 minutes.
Clutter: Bad for advertising
Why does it matter how much clutter the game contained? After all, this is the one time of year when people actually tune in to watch the ads.
Still, studies over the years have found that the more clutter, the less people remember about what they saw. Researchers say, and media buyers believe, that fewer commercials would lead to better recall, even in an event where spots are as scrutinized as the Super Bowl.
One problem with that: Networks selling these ads for $5 million a pop aren’t inclined to sell fewer of them.
Over the past five games, ad time has been above 48 minutes every year.
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