Super Bowl Advertisers Can't Ignore the Power Of The Web

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Much has changed in recent years, as advertising dollars continue to migrate from television budgets to online channels, a new advertising dynamic is occurring where television advertising is supplemented by major online campaigns. The brands that understand how to integrate both online and offline marketing channels into one seamless approach to attract and engage consumers reaped this year's big bowl benefits.

Of the 53 noted Super Bowl ads we viewed this year, 33 of the spots integrated the web into their ad campaign. The big brands are starting to understand that multi-channel marketing is here to stay and recognize the benefits of embracing this change to the old marketing paradigm.

The Giants and Patriots weren't the only teams who performed on Super Bowl Sunday. Major consumer brands and national retailers put on their game faces in an attempted to connect with customers through game day advertising spots that directed consumers online during the NFL's biggest game.

Much has changed in recent years, as advertising dollars continue to migrate from television budgets to online channels, a new advertising dynamic is occurring where television advertising is supplemented by major online campaigns. This has been fueled by the everyday adoption of the internet, where consumer spend 6.6 billion hours per month while generating 7.1 billion search queries, as recently reported by Nielsen NetRatings. The brands that understand how to integrate both online and offline marketing channels into one seamless approach to attract and engage consumers reaped this year's big bowl benefits.

Tim Daly, SVP of Interactive Services at Unreal Marketing states, "This year's Super Bowl ads displayed the growing trend of brands maximizing what the web has to offer. " Daly shares, "Of the 53 noted Super Bowl ads we viewed this year, 33 of the spots integrated the web into their ad campaign. The big brands are starting to understand that multi-channel marketing is here to stay and recognize the benefits of embracing this change to the old marketing paradigm."

Super Bowl Search Scoreboard

Unreal Marketing's team of Search Engine Marketing experts have provided below a scoreboard and analysis of the players that won the game and the companies who dropped the ball in the online arena. We analyzed search engine result pages for both sponsored and organic listings to see which campaigns were visible. We combined this analysis with general ad recall and site development. Let's take a look at both this year's advertising MVP's and the 2008 Super Bowl brand benchwarmers

The MVP's

Tide

"Obviously, Tide tapped into a veteran Ad agency this time around rather than leaving it to Donald Trump's bumbling apprentices" noted Bob Rothenberg, Managing Director of Unreal Marketing, "Not only was this perhaps the best TV ad of the evening from a general creativity standpoint, but it also scores for the best multi-channel integration of an ad". Bolstered by a strong presence in paid and organic search, the MyTalkingStain.com website stands alone as an interactive website that engages users with the brand. Users are able to create their own ad by uploading a face picture and dubbing their voice into the "Talking Stain". Additionally, Tide was smart enough to embrace the consumer experience and applied a 302 redirect on the TideToGo.com website to the new site, ensuring consistent messaging and experience. Tide then takes it one step further than any Advertiser before them…linking social media into the marketing mix. If you dig further, you'll find that Tide blended Facebook and MySpace pages with the Super Bowl ads, focusing on leveraging the power of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing.

eTrade

Coming in a close second was eTrade, with its Talking Baby on the webcam spouting investing advice. Clever and humorous, the spots tie strongly with eTrade's brand message of making stock trading simple and easy. Additionally, eTrade was able to effectively communicate their online presence without pigeonholing themselves as a web-only player, by adopting a webcast style delivery. eTrade then backs this up with an aggressive paid search and organic search presence of all the Super Bowl advertisers. Additionally, eTrade seamlessly incorporated the TV ads onto their site's home page for online searchers, maximizing their Super Bowl investment.

Sobe Life Water vs. Vitamin Water

In the battle of revitalizing nutritional water beverages, Sobe Life Water takes the crown from the other Super Bowl competitor, Vitamin Water. Sobe's ad featured supermodel Naomi Campbell dancing with Sobe's lovable lizards to the Michael Jackson classic "Thriller". Conversely, top competitor Vitamin Water's ad, featuring Shaq, failed to direct consumers to it's Super Bowl microsite . The Sobe spots take us past just listing the Thrillicious.com URL, integrating it into the audio track. The Sobe campaign was supported by paid search marketing tactics, bidding on related terms for the product as well as bidding on its rival's brand name term "Vitamin Water". In contrast, Vitamin Water was for the most part invisible in the search engines. The interactive "Thrillicious.com" from Sobe was smooth and intiutiive, trouncing the cluttered VitaminWater MySpace setup.

The Bench Warmers

Pepsi

The unquestionable integration loser of the night, taking a bigger hit than Tom Brady did in the closing seconds, was Pepsi. While Pepsi hit the mark with pop icon Justin Timberlake and by communicating an online destination for viewers, they blundered for not converting on consumers who actually visit the site. When visiting the promotional site, there is a redirect that takes you to Amazon.com. Yes, Amazon.com is where you sign up…someone please throw a penalty flag! The sign-up on the landing page is completely unintuitive, consumers are required to sign up on Amazon.com before they can sign up for PepsiStuff.com, and once complete, you are dropped on the same landing page you began on with nothing to do. Lesson learned here is that simply inserting a URL into your commercial is not an effective play, especially if your site is confusing and non-interactive.

Victoria's Secret

On the surface, the ad delivered on all the winning elements, a scantily clad girl, romantic music in the background, and a perfect game time positioning. Then, the ad concludes with the final message: "Happy Valentines Day". One of the most recognizable direct marketers in the world not only forgot to tag a URL into the ad, but they also forgot to deliver a call-to-action. They clearly had a lot of faith that men would be tuned in enough to be able to figure out how to connect the dots. Quite a reach! Victoria's Secret might be able to save some face if they back up the awareness they drove during the game with an aggressive paid search marketing campaign…only a few days left for Valentines shoppers.

Budweiser

Under increasing pressure from international brewers and the shift of consumer taste towards micro or niche beers, Budweiser must strive to generate its brand awareness each and every Super Bowl Sunday. In years past, Budweiser was the stalwart every other advertiser used as the measuring stick, with winners such as the Clydesdales, Frogs, and the Bud Bowl. Yet since 2000, Budweiser has consistently failed to integrate their TV campaigns online, thumbing its nose at the ongoing trend that every other successful advertiser has acknowledged. All six ads that aired failed to include an online tie, leaving the ads to do their talking by themselves. For $18.9 million, you figured they could carve out few dollars to support their TV ads online. If you are a savvy web user, you could have found that they did create a Super Bowl destination…low and behold it was BudBowl.com. Too bad they didn't tell anyone.

In the following weeks, countless consumers will be searching the major engines for their favorite Super Bowl ads to share with friends and co-workers. Our MVP's will enjoy the benefits of increased site traffic and brand interaction by combining online and offline strategies to capture and keep their consumers' attention. The brands that ignored the importance of fusing television and online campaigns with URL tags and search engine optimization techniques truly squandered big bucks on their Super Bowl investment.

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Clay Gillespie
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