With recent studies showing a sharp increase in the number of people who simultaneously watch television and surf the Web, it was perhaps unsurprising that many Super Bowl advertisers also sought to make an impact on the Web. Most successful in generating an online buzz, experts say, were online concerns like GoDaddy and CareerBuilder.
"Irrespective of how you feel about the controversy, GoDaddy played the whole Super Bowl like a maestro in terms of generating a pre-buzz and a post-buzz for its television ad online," said Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Intelliseek, "[GoDaddy President] Bob Parsons clearly made a decision that his blog would be one of the key parts of his campaign, and he played it masterfully before, during and after the day of the actual game."
Parsons made a point of using his blog on the GoDaddy site to discuss the controversy surrounding the second of two planned GoDaddy advertisements getting pulled off the air during the game on Sunday. The blog featured a link to two versions of the controversial ad, which spoofed Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in last year's Super Bowl.
Pete Snyder, president of New Media Strategies, which monitored over 10,000 leading blogs and online discussion boards to determine which televisions spots generated the most online buzz, also tagged GoDaddy as among the biggest generators of brand awareness. "GoDaddy got unbelievable bang for their buck, creating a controversy in order to build brand awareness," Snyder said.
Napster was another online company that generated buzz online. Napster, along with CareerBuilder, was among the few companies that engaged in paid search advertising, so that when you entered search terms like "Super Bowl," advertisements from those two companies appeared in the paid listings, said Joshua Stylman, managing partner of search marketing firm Reprise Media.
Traditional offline companies whose ads generated the most buzz included Olympus, whose ad featured the launch of a new mp3 player product with video functions; Diet Pepsi, with a pair of ads featuring P. Diddy and another featuring "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" star Carson Kressley; and Ford, which ran a total of three ads, Blackshaw said. FedEx got a lot of buzz, partly because it poked fun at advertisers, he said. Among movie spots, the "War of the Worlds" trailer generated the most buzz online, Blackshaw added.
Losers included McDonalds, which created a fake blog to go with its "Lincoln Fry" effort that didn't play well with the online community. Other ads that didn't register much of an online buzz included spots by Michelob and Toyota.
"One of the big surprises for me was how many companies didn't build an internal search reference to their television ads," said Pete Blackshaw. "You have to ask yourself, why wouldn't a marketer spending $2.5 million on a television spot make that clearly viewable for a fraction of the cost online? It's the ultimate torture test for how well integrated your brand is."
Examples of companies that made no direct reference to their television ads included Cadillac, whose Web site does not make its ads viewable online and whose internal search yields zero queries for the term "Super Bowl."
"It's really not about TV versus non-TV, but rather answering the question, 'How do we breathe more power into the life of our TV commercials?' That's where a Web site can really come into play," Blackshaw said. "If I was a CMO for one of these major companies, I wouldn't approve a single red cent until I'd made sure the online component was buttoned up."
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