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Super Bowl XLII Ads – Where's the URL?

boggs-chris
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Last year I reviewed the Super Bowl advertiser fare from two perspectives: URL visibility within the ads, and the SEO, or lack thereof, tied to those campaigns. Here we are again, after a wonderful (in my mind) victory by the Giants over the Patriots in Super Bowl 42.

For anyone that did not catch the Super Bowl advertisements, Fox has leveraged the online assets of parent News Corp. by creating a MySpace page with all of the ads. From an SEO perspective, it might have been better for Fox to host this content on their own domain, but let me not veer off into SEO no-no's here.

Instead, let's talk about the positioning of URLs within the actual ad spots. We had the "Champions," who did the best job from a URL-visibility standpoint; the "Players," who teased the URL but failed to take full advantage of the opportunity; and the "Cowboys," who didn't even let their domains play in the Super Bowl.

The Champions – Who did the best job from a URL-visibility standpoint?

The Champions came in and won this Super Bowl thanks to their focus on driving viewers to their sites, or to special domains created to support their advertising plans. Some even went beyond enticing viewers to the domain, with the creation of online communities to support their goals.

Proctor and Gamble's Tide brand prominently displayed their MyTalkingStain.com URL at the end of their ad. This site allows people to sign up and create their own "talking stains." Additionally, the URL was supported by the narrator's call to action and actual speaking of the domain name at the end of the ad. Only 3-4 advertisers actually dedicated some of the voice creative and time to delivering a domain name.

Unilever Brand SunSilk, a collection of hair products, also drove people to a new community at LifeCantWait.com. Promising a "Create Your Hair Timeline" customization feature that unfortunately is not yet available, SunSilk also drives visitors to a separate MySpace community at myspace.com/lifecantwait. The URL was nicely prominent at the end of an entertaining spot.

My MVP was decided in the first quarter of the game with about 4 minutes left, when the Under Armour ad aired. The creative content of the ad got me honestly fired up (I guess I do fall into their target market, although slightly less in-shape than the majority of it), and the last 3-5 seconds with the image of www.underarmour.com in large font made me actually think of going online right then and there. I was thinking: "Under Armour makes shoes?"

Just before kickoff, Ford introduced people to their microsite, F150behindthescenes.com, with a fairly prominent graphic at the bottom right of the screen. The problem they had, in my opinion, was not including the domain again in a second half ad for Ford Trucks. Maybe this was different divisions, but they missed a chance to repeat that URL and possibly greatly increase the traffic.

Other winners – again just from a URL visibility standpoint as we are not talking about user experience or the quality of the URLs here – included Audi's Truthinengineering.com, Bridgestonetire.com, Doritos' recycling of the snackstrongproductions.com domain, and Careerbuilder.com. T-mobile used an interesting strategy at the end of their ad – they placed two mentions of the t-mobile.com domain on the same last screen, one in "natural language" with the words "See t-mobile.com for more details" on the left side of the screen and a simple t-mobile.com on the right side.

GoDaddy is GoDaddy, there can be no doubt. Obviously this player has to count on people visiting the domain, and although questionable, the content of this ad spot likely drove a substantial amount of direct traffic to the site. NFL.com told an interesting story of a football player that used to be a bagboy, and directed people to visit NFL.com/superad. Sobe Life Water also provided viewers with a somewhat clear link to Thrillicious.com, but the narrator mumbled it a bit and it was only on the screen for a very short time. This one almost made it to the "participation ribbon" ratings, which I will call the "Players."

The Players – Who teased the URL but failed to take full advantage of the opportunity?

The "Players" came up a little shorter in this game than the Patriots did. These advertisers saw value in mentioning their URL in the ad spot, but failed to display or call out the URL prominently enough.

My number one disappointment on this list is Cars.com. Although this is an obvious internet-only play, there was not enough prominence of the URL or even screenshots, which I felt would have been more effective. Although fairly humorous, the content was somewhat confusing – why would my head be shrunken or would I have to fight a guy in a fire ring if I don't do a deal with this guy, and what does that have to do with cars.com? (Confused? Again the commercials are all available at the "Super Spots" MySpace page.)

FedEx had a great ad, but fell short at the end of driving people to the site, with only a small mention of the URL. Dell also got caught on third and long in the red zone, as they had a cool ad but were a little too brief with presenting their page dell.com/joinred. Salesgenie.com had conflicting content. The screen told me to go to salesgenie.com/tv for 100 free leads, but the narrator only said "go to salesgenie.com." Taco Bell gets an honorable mention because I like the way that they append the .com to the "Think Outside the Bun" image by flying it in.

eTrade and Doritos again scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to using their domains effectively in their ads. Much like last year, eTrade just assumed that people know it's eTrade.com, and the narrator doesn't even pause to mention that. Not all people with money to invest are super-Internet savvy, folks. Snackstrongproductions.com must be having an identity crisis by now, but we'll save that discussion for the SEO article. A little worse and both these advertisers would have made the Cowboys list of "Did not play."

The Cowboys – Who didn't even let their domains play in the Super Bowl?

OK so I admit I am a 'skins fan and that had something to do with the way I titled this group. There is always next year for the Cowboys, the Redskins, and the rest – hopefully the advertisers that missed this boat will consider creating, or at least mentioning, a URL next time around?

The Number one "I don't want to play" advertiser was Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser. They had a number of spots, mostly for the Bud Light product, which were quite entertaining as usual. Does Budweiser really feel they have no need for a URL push? Just seems foreign to me I guess.

Pepsi, where is my "What is love?" site? I love that song! I love the ad! Give me a site that plays that all day and I'll go to it. Or at least tie it in with your practically non-promoted Pepsistuff.com domain. The ad showing Justin Timberlake "getting a sip closer each time" ended off quite confusing with some dad throwing a flat screen TV and a very light call to action for the Web site.

Vitamin Water ran a cool commercial with Shaquille O'Neal riding a horse. Quite hilarious, but frankly I was confused at the end if this was a Vitamin Water commercial or a Sobe Life Water. They needed to make better use of the screen to deliver their brand, instead of just showing pictures of the bottles. Why not a URL? Speaking of vitamin water, Gatorade has an interesting campaign going with the "Man's Best Friend: Dog vs. Gatorade" theme. Where is the site for this?

Many other ads simply did not show a URL. The non-exhaustive list of no-URL ads includes: G2 from Gatorade with Derek Jeter; Garmin with the URL in tiny writing for a second at the end of their ad; Yukon's new Hybrid; Claritin's confusing race car driver ad; Carmen Electra's Ice breakers ad (what percentage of men may have gone to a URL at the end of that?); Disney Pixar's Wall-e (this movie should have an area at Disney.com/Pixar – so why not capitalize on another opportunity to mention it?); Victoria's Secret (again, a web site has pictures – duh); and lastly the "Push It" ad for AMP Energy Drink (love the song and would go to the site just to listen to it).

Coca Cola continued its apparent disregard for the Internet, along with one of its largest distributors McDonalds. Both could drive additional sales by enticing viewers with coupons online. Cargill attempted to let people know what they do, which is hard in 30 seconds. Think a Web site could help get that message across better? Hyundai is another company that should have leveraged their URL better, including only a small mention of their hyundaigenesis.com domain at the end of each of two ads.

We will review how the advertisers did from an SEO perspective in another search day scheduled to come (later this week).

Chris Boggs is manager of the search engine optimization team at eMergent Marketing, a division of Brulant. Chris is also a moderator within the SEW forums, associate editor of the Search Engine Roundtable Blog, and co-host of the weekly "Search Pulse" podcast at WebmasterRadio.FM. Chris serves on the 2007 SEMPO Board of Directors.

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