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English: National Association of Basketball Co...

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Yesterday we turned in our Final Four brackets on Yahoo. March Madness is the next advertising bonanza.

Per Smart Money, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is big business — second only to the Super Bowl in terms of ad sales. A :30 second commercial during one of the last two rounds of the tournament costs around $1.2 million, far more than a $440,0000 spot during the World Series, and more than three times the cost of an ad during the NBA championship, according to Kantar Media, a research firm. Those high prices are partly due to the tournament’s “protected” spot on the calendar, “a three-week window of time where it is the focal point of the sporting world,” says Jon Swallen, a senior vice president of research with Kantar Media. And while ratings for head-to-head matchups like the World Series can vary widely depending on the size of the teams’ fan base, March Madness always has national appeal, Swallen says.

Automotive stands as the tourney’s most lucrative category, accounting for 21%, or $156 million, of the total sales. This year, Enterprise Car rental, Volvo, Infiniti, Geico and State Farm are rumored to run advertising campaigns complete with social media.

So far we haven’t seen any pre-buzz advertising which was a very effective and revolutionary technique to drive additional advertising awareness during the Super Bowl. Please keep us posted on your favorite team and your insights on the brands participating in the tourney.