Advertising Gimmicks Draw Super Bowl Traffic

Super Bowl XXXVI wasn’t a parade of dot-com ads like it was a couple of years ago, but some advertisers did manage to see their Web traffic spike. It remains to be seen, however, whether gimmicks that send people online sell any products.

AT&T’s mLife campaign, which managed to create a mystery around what exactly an mLife is, did see its traffic spike from 34,000 unique visitors on the day before the Super Bowl to 681,000 unique visitors on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. It’s a safe bet that if the commercial came out and said it was for AT&T Wireless, traffic would not have jumped quite so high. Other Internet-related advertisers, such as HotJobs,, and E*Trade saw their traffic remain steady or decrease slightly on game day.

“While most of this year’s Super Bowl ads represented familiar brands that will likely enjoy longer-term results, mLife’s immediate online success was likely driven by the novelty of the television campaign as well as the brand itself,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research for Jupiter Media Metrix. “Time will tell if the information gleaned from visits to on Sunday will contribute to a successful brand launch.”

Traffic to Super Bowl-Related Sites
Feb. 2 and 3, 2002, Home & Work Visitors
Site Unique Visitors
Saturday Super Bowl
Sunday 221 318
ESPN 1,214 1,733 10 51** 1,083 1,371
NFL Internet Group 378 1,439 Sites 343 377 195 1,176 174 120 75 75 360 299 34 681 652 473 135 122 60
**Includes traffic to and
Source: Jupiter Media Metrix

Another advertiser with a strong Web tie-in was Pepsi. The Pepsi campaign sent viewers to, but instead of being prompted by soda, visitors went to the site to vote on Britney Spears’ ads. The site had no reportable traffic on the Saturday before the Super Bowl and then drew 135,000 unique visitors on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Jupiter Media Metrix., the official sports site of the Fox network and an also-ran behind ESPN and Sportsline in the online sports ratings, had 1.1 million unique visitors on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, and then jumped to 1.4 million visitors on Super Bowl Sunday., which had been registering low levels of traffic prior to Super Bowl weekend, increased from 195,000 unique visitors on the Saturday before the Super Bowl to 1.2 million visitors on Super Bowl Sunday. NFL Internet Group, which includes traffic to as well as NFL team sites, also first reported traffic on Saturday before the Super Bowl with 378,000 unique visitors, and then jumped to 1.4 million visitors on Super Bowl Sunday.

Interestingly, data from comScore Networks found that overall U.S. Internet traffic was 23 percent lower during the hours of the game when compared to the previous Sunday. The low point for Internet traffic during the day was at kickoff, when usage dropped to 4.7 million people in a 15-minute period. The daily high was toward the end of post-game coverage when U.S. visitors grew to 6 million. Total U.S. traffic jumped 10 percent once the game was over.

Visitors to, the official site of the winning team, surged more than 500 percent post-game ; by contrast, early in the game activity grew at, but declined continuously from halftime through post-game coverage.

The Super Bowl also took a toll on online shopping. Although Sundays are typically low in online purchase activity, sales at U.S. Web sites on Super Bowl Sunday were at $91 million, 24 percent below the average Sunday in January. Not surprisingly, sales of sports paraphernalia were strong, with purveyors of licensed NFL merchandise — such as and — posting double- and even triple-digit gains.

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