Super-Sizing Commerce For The Super Bowl

For sports fans, particularly football lovers, the real Christmas comes tomorrow.

Super Bowl LI is less than 24 hours away from kicking off and deciding once and for all which city is better — Atlanta or Boston (though obviously it’s Boston — since the global headquarters for is located here).

And then there’s Tom Brady.

OK, well, maybe we’re just deciding which city’s football team is better (still Boston, because, well, Go Pats!), and perhaps it’s for the best if we all take a page from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and keep the coming fight light — and focused on various samplings of regional deliciousness. Baker is wagering Boston cream pie cupcakes from a Springfield bakery, Legal Seafood clam chowder and apple cider doughnuts; Deal has put Brunswick stew (tomato-based Southern stew containing various beans, vegetables and meat) chocolate-covered blueberries and an apple pie from an orchard in Northern Georgia on the line.

(Just in case you needed even more of a reason to want the Pats to win!)

Gambling-related spoils to the side, the Super Bowl is, of course, more than a game — it is a full-fledged cultural event. Last year 111.9 million people tuned in for the big game — and that made it only the third most watched Super Bowl. The most watched came the year before, in 2015 — when the Patriots took down the Seahawks in from of 114 million people.

And the Pats are back in the game, so perhaps they will bring some extra viewers with them.

All of those viewers present a massive commerce opportunity and a chance for payments to really shine.

No, we aren’t kidding. For example, take the Super Bowl ads.

The Ads (More Expensive Than Ever — Though Maybe Not For That Much Longer)

This year, a 30-second spot during the big game will run a cool $5 million (that’s about $166.6K per second). And there are some who think that price will soon look like a bargain, since some estimates have the cost of 30 seconds of big-game advertising going for as much as $7 million per pop.

But not everyone thinks that — and, in fact, some are beginning to wonder if we are coming to the end of the super-sized Super

Bowl ad price in the next year or two. Why? Because advertising during the Super Bowl isn’t nearly as efficient as it used to be.

The price of ads is increasing much faster than the audience for the big game. That matters because of CPM, or total cost per thousand viewers reached by those super pricey Super Bowl ads. Two years ago, when the cost of advertising during the game was a scant $3 million per 30-second spot, advertising during the game was actually one of the more efficient expenditures around — CPM was around $27. By comparison, a hit show in prime time carries a CPM of $35 or more.

But $5 million per 30-second commercial is much less efficient, as CPM goes to $45 and the investment looks a lot less efficient .

In fact, at $45 , the only thing that has a higher CPM than the Super Bowl is the Academy Awards (the ads are cheaper, but the audience is smaller).

So will this be the last year that we’re all marveling at the price of a Super Bowl ad? Probably not — the biggest television event of the year will always capture a high price. But unless the audience for the game grows , advertisers may have found a cap on how high a price per half-minute they can capture.

Visa And The Future Of Venue Payments

Last year, at the Silicon Valley Super Bowl tech as a group went all out — and Visa led the charge. Most notably, the credit card company partnered with the NFL and San Francisco 49ers to outfit Levi’s Stadium, with nearly 700 NFC-enabled, point-of-sale terminals that let cardholders at the game swipe, tap or click to pay to order drinks from their seats using the Super Bowl 50 app.

“We were thrilled to be the first team Visa sponsored after their NFL renewal last year,” said Al Guido, chief operating officer of the 49ers, last year in the run-up to the game. “We designed Levi’s Stadium to be a forward-looking venue that was continually adaptable to advances in technology.”

This year the Super Bowl is in the not quite so tech-hubby Houston — but that doesn’t mean Visa is done innovating payments while the game plays on.

Visa is using the game to strengthen a partnership with BBVA Compass by giving NFL shop discounts to holders of the BBVA Visa card so that the bank can expand in the payment card market.

Visa’s payments ring, which first got a chance to meet the world at the Summer Olympics last year, is getting another showcase as the payments method of the future.

And Visa is even trying to make financial services cool by hosting a youth competition on its financial literacy video game, Financial Football.

For those lucky enough to have access to Visa’s private client lounge, they get the double thrill of meeting and greeting NFL luminaries — and taking any and all of Visa’s payments technology for a test drive.

But like most of us, you will not spend the big weekend at the game — or in Visa’s hyper-exclusive lounge. More likely than not, you will be on the couch eating pizza.

And just in time for the mass mozzarella consumption festival, Domino’s Pizza is also getting into the game.

Domino’s Messenger Ordering Play

Just in time for the kick-off, Domino’s announced a major expansion of its Facebook Messenger ordering chatbot.

Going forward, users can order anything on the menu instead of just their most recent “Easy Order” — helpful for those with game guests who may not share their pizza tastes.

And to make sure the offer is particularly tempting, Domino’s is incentivizing customers to use the new functionality with a 20-percent-off coupon on menu-priced items ordered through Messenger.


And they picked the right day to launch: Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest pizza ordering day of the calendar year.

So what did we learn about commerce going into the game? The ads are expensive — but possibly less valuable than they used to be. Visa doesn’t need to be in San Francisco to push tech at the big game — have tech, will travel to anywhere, including Houston.

And when in doubt this weekend, you are a tap away from 20-percent-off pizza.

And with that, we guess there’s nothing left to say but …

Go, Pats!