Rule No. 2: Buy early, save later.
Spending millions on a Super Bowl ad isn't all that different than spending a few hundred on a plane ticket or hotel room. The sooner you buy, the lower the price is likely to be.
Many advertisers buy at the "upfronts," the annual meetings between network sellers and advertising buyers, held in June. As a result, much of Fox's "inventory" of Super Bowl time was spoken for by last summer. (Fox declined to comment for this article.)
As long as there's demand, prices for whatever is left tend to rise as the game gets closer. But on occasion, it pays to be patient. When Detroit's slumping automakers passed up the game during the worst years of the recession, last-minute advertisers snapped up unsold spots at bargain prices.
Rule No. 3: First in, last out.
Advertisers pay extra to air commercials in the first and last positions in a "pod," or cluster of commercials. These are considered the most-watched and the most memorable positions.
Basic inertia explains why it's good to be first: People haven't jumped off the couch yet as the game stops for the commercial break. Anticipation explains why the last spot is primo: People are rushing back to their seats as the game gets set to resume.
Rule No. 4: Buy early in the game, too.
Advertisers tend to clamor to show ads in the first half of the game and usually in the first quarter. The reason? It's when the audience is most stable, most predictable and most attentive to the advertising.
"It's the safest place to be," says Jennifer Clayton, the manager of advertising planning and buying for Virginia-based Volkswagen of America, which is airing a humorous one-minute ad in the second quarter (in the first "pod" position of the second ad break) Sunday. "The game hasn't been determined, and there's a lot of hype about what the brands are doing. People focus on that."