Dot-Com to Pay Super Bowl Attendees to Show URL

One Web site thinks it’s found a way to save the $2 million-plus that CBS is charging for 30-second spots on the Super Bowl XXXV broadcast.

PageLab Networks, which operates a natural-language search engine called Subjex.com, is offering Super Bowl attendees cash and stock in return for flashing the Subjex URL during the live broadcast from Tampa Bay stadium, January 28.

The Minneapolis-based company will pay $1,000 per second to the Super Bowl XXXV attendee who displays the company’s Web address longest, the firm said.

Rather unabashedly calling it the “Subjex Super Bowl Sneak,” the company said it has no qualms about taking advantage of what it perceives as an unowned and, until now, untapped ad space.

“Our marketing strategy is simple, maximum exposure for minimal cost,” said president and chief executive Andrew Hyder. “We’re providing incentive for what we consider are the free advertising spaces of professional football game coverage — camera panning shots of the audience.”

Naturally, CBS has a slightly different take on the matter.

“I can guarantee it’s a publicity stunt, and I can guarantee it won’t work,” said Tony Taranto, vice president of sports sales at CBS. Taranto said he hadn’t heard of Subjex.com, but wasn’t surprised by the effort.

“They can try to pull that stunt. But if they were a well-established company, they would have enough money to purchase an ad,” he said. “They would know how to get in the game, if they wanted to play.”

PageLab seems nevertheless determined to go forward with the contest for which participants must register on the Subjex.com site before the actual game. They may also sign up with representatives outside of Raymond James stadium the day of the game. (Participants must flash their identification number as well as “www.subjex.com” during the game to qualify for the prize.)

Figuring costs for a Super Bowl ad at $66,666 per second, the company could stand to save a sizable chunk if an attendee gets the URL on television for even a second. At best, the company — which caps the amount it will pay at $5,000 in either cash or stock, or both — would save at least $328,330 if it gets five seconds of exposure. Anything above that is bonus.

And, to PageLab, which envisions legions of attendees vying for the payoff, that model sounds not only fine, but fair. Hyder, the company’s founder, doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing his feelings about the costs of Super Bowl spots.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous what some companies are willing to pay for an on-air advertising campaigns, and then to measure the actual success of those ads is tough,” Hyder said. “Look at how the dot-coms fared last year for the millions spent on Super Bowl advertising.”

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