Which is why advertisers pay premium prices for ads shown during the first half.
Second-half advertisers, meanwhile, not only risk losing droves of viewers to a bum game, they also have to fight viewer fatigue.
"A lot of people are watching the game at parties. They've been there for hours, and they're getting tired," says San Diego State's Belch. "By the third or fourth quarter, the same enthusiasm is just not there.' So, you're rolling the dice a little bit" by placing an ad during this part of the game.
Last year, the bet paid off. According to the Nielsen ratings service, the audience for the Ravens-49ers contest grew by 25 percent from its low point to its high point, peaking at nearly 115 million viewers late in the second half of what turned out to be a dramatic game.
Although that result delighted fourth-quarter advertisers — Big audience! Low price! — it was a fortuitous result, Morse said. "You can look like a genius [under those circumstances], but you can't really plan it," he said. "If we could, we'd be running the world."
Rule No. 5: You need ads for your ads.
A Super Bowl commercial is just the start of an advertiser's advertising . . . about its Super Bowl advertising.
The commercial is just the middle. Thanks to social media, companies engage in a buildup about their ads before the game, and most follow up afterward, too.
Volkswagen says it was the first advertiser to release its Super Bowl ad online before the game in 2011 (for a charming spot called "The Force"). It also says it was the first to release a teaser ad, called "The Bark Side," for its Super Bowl commercial in 2012. The effort propelled its commercials to viral status.