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NFL sponsors Nike, Pepsi dominate nontraditional media exposure during Super Bowl

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Von Miller #40 of the Los Angeles Rams holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
Rob Carr | Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams won their second Super Bowl in franchise history after beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. But companies like Pepsi, Nike and Bose, who had their logos appear throughout the National Football League’s top-rated event, were also winners as brands received maximum exposure around Super Bowl 56.

San Francisco-based software company Hive collaborated with sports consultancy firm Elevate to project in-game media valuations around the 2022 Super Bowl. CNBC obtained an early version of the 2022 report that said brands received $170 million of in-game exposure. That’s up compared to last year’s game, which generated $169 million of in-game value. And the 2020 game generated $143 million.

Hive said brands received more than 75 minutes of on-screen time during the 2022 Super Bowl. That’s down from 104 minutes for last year’s game as the NFL had full capacity with pandemic restrictions lifted.

Hive created an artificial intelligence platform that tracks media sponsorships and used the software to follow the last four Super Bowls. With in-content exposure gaining traction among sports leagues looking to drive revenue, the company developed its Mensio software to track brand exposure outside of traditional commercials that air during live sporting events.

“Nielsen has been the currency for [measuring] traditional commercials,” Hive president Dan Calpin told CNBC. “We see ourselves as the gold standard for measuring in-content brand exposure for which there is no currency today.”

Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp scores a touchdown.
Mike Segar | Reuters

Increasing in-game value

Hive’s 2022 report combined visual and verbal exposures throughout Super Bowl 56. Nike had the most exposure in the 2022 Super Bowl with 46 minutes of on-screen time, while Bose, who’s among the NFL’s top sideline sponsors, had their brand logo appear for eight minutes

Pepsi had double exposure with its brands appearing in the 2022 Super Bowl. The beverage-maker sponsored the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime show – perhaps for the last time – featuring iconic hip-hop stars Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Hive estimates Pepsi’s combined brands, including Gatorade, were on the screen for roughly nine minutes and its brand was mentioned a game-high 11 times.

Toyota, Verizon, and New Era followed with a combined three minutes (one minute each) of in-game exposure. And SoFi, which agreed to a $625 million naming rights deal with the Rams, had roughly one minute of in-game exposure that Hive valued at $3.5 million.

“There is so much focus and water-cooler conversation on the commercials, but when you step back, the most exposed brands might not have aired a commercial, and people were exposed to them in some cases for several minutes during the game,” Calpin said. “That’s why people associate with Nike, Gatorade, SoFi, and Pepsi.”

Hive developed Mensio in 2018 as an “always-on platform” that records every second of televised content 24/7. The software tracks brands using its “logo detection model” and tracks logo exposure in postgame highlights and social media videos.

To establish valuation, Calpin said Hive combines metrics including duration, quality and size of a brand’s logo on the screen.

Throughout the 2022 Super Bowl, Hive detected company logos on jerseys, bottles, coolers, towels, tablets, carts, headphones and in-stadium/arena signage. Calpin said every 150 seconds of average in-game exposure is equivalent to the value of a 30-second commercial.

NBC charged roughly $6.5 million for 2022 Super Bowl commercials, and some brands paid a record-high $7 million for a 30-second ad. The company should surpass the $545 million in revenue ViacomCBS generated during the 2021 Super Bowl.

“Those commercial ratings only tell part of the story,” Calpin said. “They measure the viewership of traditional ads – 15 and 30 seconds – but ignore the brands that were exposed within the content itself.”

A changing landscape

Hive provided its Super Bowl data to Elevate to verify valuation estimations. Elevate is run by 49ers team president Al Guido.

Thomas Bernstein, executive vice president of insights at Elevate, said Hive’s data helps companies get a better “return on objectives and their return on investment” and “turn data into insights, into sales and partnerships.”

Hive is valued at $2 billion, according to PitchBook. Some of its revenue comes from licensing its software to companies including Disney, Walmart, and top NFL sponsor Anheuser-Busch. Hive also has agreements with media measurement companies Comscore, Octagon, and advertising firm Interpublic Group of Companies, known as IPG.

With Nielsen’s “gold standard” of TV measurement status in jeopardy, Calpin said Hive wants to be the “industry-accepted measurement practice” when it comes to in-content measurement.

The National Basketball Association added its jersey patch program in 2017. That asset shows a company’s logo on NBA uniforms during games. The league is also at the beginning stages of its virtual floor ads, displayed on the court throughout NBA games.

Major League Baseball will also leverage virtual ads throughout games, and the National Hockey League launched its helmet and jersey patch assets, too. Tech companies like Apple are also leveraging in-content exposure. For example, Apple features its products in entertainment shows, including Ted Lasso, which is streams on Apple TV+.

“As video viewership continues to shift to no or low ad platforms like Netflix and HBO Max, the relative importance on branded content will continue to increase,” Calpin said.

Viewership metrics for the 2022 Super Bowl should be available this week, and that’ll provide additional media value around the game. PredictHQ, a demand intelligence company, projected the game would reach 117 million viewers, which would be a record high.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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