Mil­lions will tune in this weekend to see the Green Bay Packers take on the Pitts­burgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV at Cow­boys Sta­dium in Arlington, Texas. But between plays viewers will watch some of the most antic­i­pated com­mer­cials of the year. Andy Rohm, a pro­fessor of mar­keting at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, dis­cusses the costly, yet enter­taining, advertisements.

What is the average cost of a single ad? Why do these com­pa­nies feel the expense is worth it?

The average cost for a 30-​​second ad at this year’s Super Bowl is approx­i­mately $2.8 mil­lion to $3 mil­lion. The FOX net­work sets the high price in part to offset the cost of securing exclu­sive rights from the NFL to air the game. The net­work will recoup $200 mil­lion in adver­tising rev­enue from the 55 to 60 min­utes worth of com­mer­cials during the Super Bowl, and addi­tional funds from com­mer­cial spots aired before and after the game.

Com­pa­nies tend to ratio­nalize the expense to air com­mer­cials on the Super Bowl because it is esti­mated that some 100 mil­lion to 110 mil­lion people will tune in this year — in fact, it is the most-​​watched tele­vised event in the United States.

The Super Bowl is a great plat­form for com­pa­nies to launch new prod­ucts. Addi­tion­ally, it is the only tele­vised event when ads aren’t seen as intru­sive by viewers — depending on the close­ness of the game, many of us will actu­ally tune in more to the com­mer­cials being aired than to the game itself.

How do these ads impact sales or a company’s bottom line?

It is often dif­fi­cult to attribute sales of a product directly to its pres­ence during the Super Bowl, but there are a few ways in which com­pa­nies try to mea­sure the direct impact of their com­mer­cial invest­ment, including Web site and social media traffic. For example, if a com­mer­cial urges viewers to check out their site, the adver­tiser can ana­lyze Web traffic and activity and com­pare it to the average number of vis­i­tors and down­loads. The com­pany could also try to drive viewers to its Face­book page or mon­itor traffic on Twitter.

Because TV com­mer­cials are by nature fleeting — they’re on for 30 sec­onds, then they’re gone — Super Bowl ads tend to be talked about and replayed for days after the game. As a result, Super Bowl adver­tising offers com­pa­nies an effec­tive way to pro­long their rela­tion­ship with their con­sumers over time.

What qual­i­ties make for a good ad?

A good ad tries to cap­ture the atten­tion of the viewers by spurring emo­tions or enter­taining us by making us laugh. In recent years, slap­stick humor, cute ani­mals, talking babies and the use of well-​​known celebri­ties have worked.

Effec­tive Super Bowl com­mer­cials are ones devel­oped specif­i­cally for the big game. We have high hopes for the new spots, so the pres­sure is on adver­tisers and their brands to exceed our expec­ta­tions. This year, there will be sev­eral auto brands adver­tised, as well as those from the req­ui­site beer and soft drink com­pa­nies. Because adver­tisers will try to min­i­mize their risk, we will most likely see some of the same themes that have worked in the past.