October 3, 2018

What Would the Presidential Alert Cost in Media?

Today at 2:18PM ET, FEMA conducted a test of its Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) — bringing together two existing alert systems: the Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. Today’s notification is the first “Presidential Alert” to ever be sent to cell phone owners. These messages were delivered to 225 million mobile devices automatically — without a choice to opt out of the system.

Since we’re an ad agency and we love numbers, we decided to look at what a media campaign of this magnitude (225 million unblockable impressions) would cost by comparing the prices to other large-scale campaigns.


Last year’s Super Bowl had 111.3 million people tune into the game — about half the number of people the alert is going to. Commercials for the Super Bowl were around $5 million for a 30-second spot.

Super Bowl CPM (cost per thousand impressions*): $44.92

Media Cost of Presidential Alert at Super Bowl CPM: $10,107,000


Facebook's average Q1 CPM in 2018 was $11.20. Multiplying that out to reach 225 million people looks like this:

Facebook average CPM: $11.20

Media Cost of Presidential Alert at Facebook CPM: $2,520,000


Google display ads had an average CPM of $2.80 in the first quarter of 2018. How much would it cost to reach 225 million?

Google Display CPM: $2.80

Media Cost of Presidential Alert at Google Display CPM: $630,000


While it’s not an exact one-to-one comparison, you can see how much this level of interaction with consumers would cost to accomplish with digital media budgets.

*CPM (costs per mille/thousand) is an advertising term that represents the cost of one thousand ad impressions. CPM is calculated by taking the cost of the advertising and dividing by the total number of impressions, then multiplying the total by 1,000 (CPM= cost/impressions x 1,000).

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