Super Bowl Ads Supercharge Online Traffic

If soaring Web traffic driven by Super Bowl 2004 ads on game day is any indication, sex lives are blooming, music lovers are (legally) downloading and taxpayers are filing all over America.

Traffic to Cialis.com, an erectile dysfunction drug site, rose 1,868 percent, Apple iTunes traffic jumped 593 percent and HRBlock.com saw a 258 percent increase in traffic, according to a comScore Networks survey of the top traffic-gaining sites.

While it didn’t exactly qualify as an ad, Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction certainly acted as a marketing tool, whether planned or unplanned. Jackson soared from the 173rd position in Hitwise’s music, bands and artists category to No. 1, and Jackson-related Web sites are now the top five sites in the category, a Hitwise spokesman said.

Capitalizing on the notoriety of illegal music downloads, Pepsi and iTunes.com’s joint commercial catapulted iTunes to the No. 3 spot on Hitwise’s shopping and classifieds, music category. The ad, featuring six teenagers sued for illegal file-trading by the Recording Industry Association of America, made iTunes the most popular music download site on the Web, Hitwise claimed. Hitwise measures the popularity of Web sites within certain categories it creates.

“Curiosity was the winning ingredient in ads driving traffic to many Web sites,” said Graham Mudd, an analyst with comScore. “The Cialis.com ad was vague about what the product did. So people probably went to the site to learn what the drug does.”

Similarly, with Dodge.com, which saw a 139 percent increase, and Cadillac.com, whose hits went up 94 percent, both companies were introducing new products.

The comScore survey measured sites with more than 10,000 visitors on Super Bowl Sunday 2004. It compared the number of visitors on Feb. 1 to the average of four previous Sundays.


Top 10 Largest Gaining Advertiser Web Sites*
Percentage Change-Sunday, Feb. 1, 2004 versus
Average of Four Previous Sundays
Total U.S., Home, Work and University Locations
Cialis.com 1868%
Apple iTunes 593%
HRBlock.com 258%
PepsiWorld.com 190%
Dodge.com 139%
Cadillac.com 94%
TheTruth.com 72%
Ford.com 19%
WarnerBros.com 8%
SonyPictures.com 6%
*Limited to sites with greater than 10,000 visitors
on Super Bowl Sunday
Source: comScore Media Metrix

Decidedly less glamorous than the other sites in the top ten, HRBlock.com had a 258 percent increase in unique visitors with its ad playing off country performer Willie Nelson’s tax woes. The other exception to the glamour rule was TheTruth.com, an anti-smoking site, which saw a 72 percent rise in visits.

Two major Internet firms advertised in the Super Bowl – AOL and Monster.com.

AOL ran three :30 spots during the game and a :20 spot beforehand. The company would not release specific numbers, but said over 1.6 million people voted for their favorite site in a poll on the AOL site Super Bowl Sunday.

“More than three million people voted overall” in the poll, which continued for three days after the Super Bowl, according to AOL spokeswoman Jennifer Rankin.

Traffic was flat on job site Monster.com on Sunday, according to Hitwise, but the company’s CEO said the numbers for the week following the Super Bowl were higher than usual for February so far.

“Monday was our second largest day ever for resumes, about 9,000 more than a year ago,” said Jeff Taylor, Monster.com’s CEO. About 120,000 new members posted their resumes on the site Monday and Tuesday, he said.

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