LONDON: At $4.5m for 30 seconds, advertising during the Super Bowl is clearly expensive in absolute terms, but not when considered in terms of CPM and audience engagement an industry figure has argued.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, the focus of which is big event marketing, James Miller, worldwide head of strategy at BBDO, said that over the past five years the rules of the game as regards Super Bowl advertising have changed dramatically, thanks in part to the increasing cost and also to the explosion of digital and social media.

"It's no longer all about the game," he said. "Advertisers now focus on the 30 or 60 days preceding the game, not 30 or 60 seconds during it."

So a Super Bowl ad is no longer simply an ad, but more like a marketing campaign for a Hollywood blockbuster, complete with trailers, PR and social media plans, including 'fan' outreach and a trade and associate engagement strategy.

The new rules of the game, then, mean that when an advertiser buys Super Bowl airtime it is also paying for the right to spend several weeks telling people they've done so.

"In this new world, where a 30-second ad can be the keystone of a 30- or 60-day campaign that delivers an audience like no other," said Miller, "the Super Bowl may be the best value in town."

Not only does it offer an increasingly rare live collective viewing moment, a significant proportion of the audience are there for the ads rather than the game, while "watching and critiquing the ads has become a spectator sport": a more engaged audience means that the ads are, or should be, more impactful.

"Where once advertisers got 30 seconds of glory that they might be able to extend if they created just the right ad, now they can all but assure themselves of 30 to 60 days of big marketing hype built off the same 30-second ad," said Miller.

But an advertiser still has to come up with the goods – a great piece of work that will get people talking. And that job is getting harder as brands not buying airtime, like beer brand Newcastle Brown, "hijack the hype".

Data sourced from Admap