Expert Alert

The impact of Super Bowl ads

Portrait of Linli Xu outside on a sunny day
Assistant Professor Linli Xu

When it comes to television commercials, the Super Bowl is the biggest stage. According to AdWeek, NBC is charging as much as $6.5 million for a 30-second spot. But does the investment pay off?

University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Assistant Professor Linli Xu specializes in advertising and has published research about Super Bowl TV ads. She can speak to how much of an impression Super Bowl commercials leave behind.

Linli Xu, Ph.D.

“It’s difficult to pin down the exact effect of Super Bowl ads. To get a better understanding, I used a state-of-the-art technique to look at how ads impacted word-of-mouth marketing for the brands. This type of marketing happens when consumers talk about a product or service with others. The study’s findings included:

  • Super Bowl advertisers see an increase in total word-of-mouth (both online and offline conversations) for about a month, with a 16% increase the month of the game.
  • The total word-of-mouth increases 22% the week after the Super Bowl.
  • The impact on solely online word-of-mouth is much larger, but only lasts a few days. There is about a 68% increase on the day of the Super Bowl. 

“Overall, Super Bowl ads bring a big boost in word-of-mouth impressions, but it’s short-lived. If a company is looking to generate a buzz, the Super Bowl might be a good place to do it.

“Are these ads worth the big price tags? It all depends on the company’s strategy. Previous research shows there really isn’t a boost in sales after Super Bowl ads air, but there are immediate spikes in online searches. Paying big money for the commercial could help a firm reach its goal of increasing brand awareness or staying connected with its customers.”

Assistant Professor Linli Xu is part of the Marketing department at the Carlson School of Management. Her research focuses on advertising and digital platforms and specializes in automotive markets. 

About the Carlson School of Management
Located on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, the Carlson School of Management exemplifies a commitment to excellence through a focus on experiential learning and international education, and by maintaining strong ties with the Minneapolis/Saint Paul business community. Through its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Carlson School offers access to world-renowned faculty members and an alumni network of 55,000 people. Learn more at

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Media Contacts

Rose Semenov

Carlson School of Management, Twin Cities

Andria Waclawski

University Public Relations