Papa John’s Makes a Friday Ad Blitz

Pizza chain Papa John’s on Friday, used a one-day blitz of image ads featuring (what else?) pizzas as its first foray into advertising on the Google Content Network. The ads offered a free second pizza to anybody who ordered a pizza online.

The ads ran on a number of entertainment, food, news, sports and game sites in the Google Content Network. These included menupages.com, last.fm, nhl.com, icanhascheezburger.com, myspace.com and plentyoffish.com.

“We work with all the big-three pizza chains with search,” said Sam Sabastian, Google’s industry director of classifieds and local. “They are very direct-response oriented… They really built their online sales channel with help from search engines, especially Google.”

However, the pizza chains are starting to show more interest in other Google-related advertising, including YouTube and the display network, said Sabastian. He said the 24-hour Papa John’s blast was “a great example of us working closely with them to, as the holidays are approaching, generate a lot of impact and a lot of buzz for online ordering going into the weekend.”

Papa John’s effort reflects a trend of increasingly technical online pizza marketing, said Google spokesman Eric Obenzinger. He cited a recent Pizza Hut application on Facebook that facilitates online ordering as well as a system launched by Dominos that allows people to order pizza through their TiVo boxes.

Bob Ford, director of digital marketing for Papa John’s noted online ordering is now a given for the pizza industry, but he said many people are still unaware it’s possible. “The opportunity a company like Google really gives us is the ability to get that broad-reaching awareness in a short period of time,” said Ford. While most everybody knows about Google as a search marketing facilitator, “a lot of marketers don’t even realize Google has this vast content network available as well,” said Ford.

He said a goal of the effort is to gather information from those who fill in the free-pizza registration information after clicking on the display ad so they can be added to Papa John’s e-mail database.