Are Super Bowl ads a score for

Editor’s note: InfoUSA’s division took some heat in the media for its less-than-politically correct, low-budget-looking cartoon ads that appeared in the 2008 Super Bowl. But the real question is, do the ads work? One of our readers weighs in.

We’ve often wondered why so many business-to-business marketers seem to be involved in advertising during prominent sporting events such as the Super Bowl. Take InfoUSA, which for the second year invested the reported $2.6 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot for its division. offers access to a lead generating database for business marketers. According to its Website, the two main packages run $180 per month or $90 per month. So was the Super Bowl ad worthwhile for a marketer like this? We can look at the numbers in a couple of ways.

Let’s start with a cost basis. At $2.6 million for the buy, plus production costs, let’s assume it invested $3 million in the one-time spot. Hypothetically, let’s assume that 75% of customers buy the more expensive package, and since the site requires a 12-month commitment, assume that 50% churn each year for both packages.

So the expected three-year revenue per new customer would be $2,835. That means the ad would have to generate $3 million/$2,835, or 1,059 new subscriptions, in order to pay out. The marketing manager would have to be comfortable that exposing that ad to 140 million people would generate at least that many subscriptions.

Did it work? reportedly generated more than 10,000 new registrations as a result of the ad. This is registrations, not subscriptions. In order to pay out, the conversion rate of these leads has to be slightly greater than 10%.

If this is realistic, then the Super Bowl ad actually looks like a pretty good investment. Even more so if the expected revenue is a little higher than we’ve estimated.
John Keenan
managing partner, Anthem Marketing Corp.

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