Posted on Apr 18, 2010

The Superbowl is the most watched television program of the year and the premier showcase for extravagantly expensive marketing, and traditionally one of the better marketing investments available, due not only to the sheer power of one Superbowl ad, but to the ripple effect of attention surrounding the event and its marketing. Online, the effect of advertising during the Superbowl can be measured quite easily… in fact, Superbowl advertiser CareerBuilder experienced a 25% increase in traffic to on the day after 2009 game.

Obviously, there are a host of obstacles for any company wishing to advertise during the Superbowl, the $2.8 million dollar per :30 spot (before production) being one key example.  And there are not a lot of barriers to entry when you consider marketing on Facebook. But it’s still interesting to compare the two, purely from the perspective of the force each carries in their respective spaces.

The Numbers: Facebook vs The Superbowl

Number of users on Facebook* in the United States: 121 million
Number of US viewers of Superbowl XLIV in the United States: 106.5 million

Facebook Penetration in the United States: 39.75%
Superbowl XLIV Penetration in the United States: 34.75%

Facebook’s penetration for individuals who are online in the United States: 53%
Superbowl XLIV’s Penetration of TV Households in the United States: 45%

Facebook’s Average CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) in United States: $0.20
Superbowl XLIV’s CPM (cost per 1000 viewers) in the United States: $28.16

Facebook’s 2009 Estimated Revenue: $635 million (source)
Superbowl XLIV’s Estimated 2009 Advertising Revenue: $213 million

*All Facebook stats via as of 4/28/2010

There is a lot to be learned from those numbers. Facebook and the Superbowl will reach about the same number of Americans this year, but Facebook allows you to get in front of eyeballs at a much more efficient price – it costs about twenty cents to reach 1000 sets of eyeballs on Facebook, while the same impact during the Superbowl costs you nearly $30. And this speaks nothing of targeting… when you pay to put your ad on TV during the Superbowl, you have no choice in who sees it. On facebook, you can narrow your demographics, region and more to be sure that only parties that may be interested in your product see your ads.

In terms of sheer impact, its unlikely any brand will ever see the results on Facebook that they’d see with a Superbowl spot… but if you are looking for an efficient method of marketing with few barriers to entry and a relatively small initial cost, Facebook clearly has the advantage.