At up to $3 million to air a 30 second spot, marketers must ensure they get the full benefit from their Super Bowl ads, even—and especially—after the game is over. According to CBS, Super Bowl XLIV was the most-watched program in television history with 106.5 million viewers. For advertisers to get the most efficiency out of their media spend, they had to get creative with their ads to gain attention during the big game. With only 15-30 seconds to make an impression, many advertisers included URLs in their TV spots, directing viewers to their web sites, Twitter or Facebook pages to further engage audiences through video.
Advertisers that had the most success in engaging audiences used their TV spots to drive audiences online to search for videos, watch their favorite ads again and learn more about their brand. Search and online video have become an increasingly important piece of the marketing mix for any traditional ad campaign, but the stakes are especially high for Super Bowl advertisers hoping to gain traction online and extend the lifecycle of their ads. In recent years, the measurement of a successful Super Bowl ad now takes into account its performance online, including number of downloads or views and consumer comments about the advertisement.
This new, sophisticated approach to Super Bowl ads and video is more in tune with the advertiser shift of investments to online platforms, where ads typically experience stronger return and performance. According to Forrester Research and the Association of National Advertisers, nearly 73 percent of advertisers surveyed said they will move dollars to online marketing and 59 percent will spend more on search engines.
So which savvy marketers successfully expanded buzz around their Super Bowl advertising and which fell flat in the weeks following the big game?
Leading consumer products group brand Doritos came out on top with the most popular ad “House Rules” on the web after the Super Bowl, acquiring more than 9 million views and nearly 10,000 comments in the week after the game, according to third-party measurement firm Visible Measures. Once the game is over, online video can become the flagship element of the campaign and this kind of tremendous visibility and commentary helps brands improve their organic ranking on the search engines.
Doritos’ online marketing success stems from their concept of using consumer-generated content to engage a wider audience from start to finish. The Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest challenged consumers to create and submit their own Doritos brand commercial. The four winning ads placed in the top 15 most-viewed ads in social video and, to date, have been viewed more than 16 million times.
Doritos maximized the entire lifecycle of online videos by engaging consumers on the web through their contest in January, calling for video entries and public voting online, airing the winning submissions on Super Bowl Sunday and, finally, posting the videos to the Doritos web site for additional viewings, resulting in additional consumption on the back-end. Statsit, a company that helps measure the effectiveness of advertising using social media, reported that Doritos received a week’s worth of mentions on Twitter in just three hours during the big game.
The Snickers spot, “Pick Up Game”, featuring Betty White and Abe Vigoda, also garnered a lot of buzz in post-Super Bowl online views with 3.5 million hits, making it the second most popular Super Bowl ad. Snickers included its web address in its Super Bowl commercial and prominently placed links to the ad on their home page to encourage repeat viewings, with options to post the video to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The ability to link to online videos from social sites and sustain the brand buzz also helps advertisers enhance long-term SEO performance.
Super Bowl ads that failed to connect with audiences this year include one for web-hosting company GoDaddy.com. The commercial featured racing star Danica Patrick and encouraged viewers to logon to GoDaddy’s web site in order to view the “too-hot-for-TV” conclusions.
Online video site Hulu, which posted video clips of all the Super Bowl commercials shown during the game, offered data for ad performance in various categories. In the category of TV spots they disliked the most, many Hulu visitors identified GoDaddy’s ““Spa” commercial. Visitors commented that they found the GoDaddy ad lackluster; that it promoted the “GoDaddy girls” more than the company’s services, it wasn’t kid or family-friendly, and—here’s the kicker—the teaser in the ad didn’t motivate viewers to visit the GoDaddy site for to find out more. Now more than ever, consumers are aware of the viewing and engagement options available and they expect brands to understand their behaviors. Online viewing, learning and sharing is a key component to brand engagement and GoDaddy clearly missed the extra points this year.
As consumers increasingly move online to view and respond to media, advertisers should be sure to provide the desired channels to keep the conversation going and sustain user contact. Online video sites like YouTube and Hulu enable fans of brands’ commercials to post comments, upload video responses and embed videos in their blogs. The platforms exist and continue to grow in popularity, so savvy marketers must create a strong impression by making their online videos widely available and direct viewers to their ads through various touchpoints in the marketing mix. At the end of the proverbial game, brands will dominate more of the search engine results page (SERP) as a result. These are important considerations for marketers to keep in mind when considering substantial media buys for next year’s Super Bowl or other major sporting events like March Madness and the World Series, though the strategy applies to everyday commercials, as well.
Marketers spending big money for advertising on events like these will reap greater benefits by delivering ads that stretch their dollars by being more creative in online media and driving consumer engagement online. Online videos extend the lifecycle of those commercials and help marketers realize the full return on their investment.
For another analysis of how Super Bowl ads performed from a search perspective, see Vanessa Fox’s Scoring Super Bowl 2010 Commercials: How’s the Search Visibility?.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.