Super Bowl Ads – Where’s the URL?

There have been some good reviews of this year’s always-anticipated Super Bowl ad crop, but this article will identify the “URL visibility factor” for the ads, based on the use of the Web address of their Web site within the commercial, spoken or displayed. For any that did not get to watch the commercials, a fairly good introduction and review can be found at Ad Age (Video Link). Also, CBS promised ads on a special Super Bowl Ads page at their Sportsline domain.

According to Reuters, a fair sample of this year’s Super Bowl television advertisements actually caused fear or anxiety on the part of some test subjects at the University of California. This makes sense, as there was a lot of violence, and even field mice were being tortured at some point during the game.

Tomorrow’s Search Day will provide an “SEO Review” for those ads that did provide URLs.

URL No-Shows

There was a fairly surprising list of no-shows when it came to URLs. Coca-Cola was the most obvious, as they purchased quite a few spots which were entertaining, but never mentioned their domain. I guess they probably figured people are smart enough to find…that subject will be further discussed in the Search Day SEO Review article. Overall, however, I think Coca-Cola did a good job counteracting what could have been Pepsi dominance, in a general marketing sense.

Other “no-domainers” included Bud Light, Schick and the “Drive” movie (?). It was surprising the movie ad didn’t lead to a link, especially since a search this morning of Google Movies and a variety of news searches couldn’t find a movie with the word “Drive” in it. It is possible that I missed the title, but now I can’t even remember the movie name. A URL would have cured that problem, at least for me. Oh well, if they had a Super Bowl ad I’ll probably see it again soon, unless they blew their whole budget.

The first PNC Bank commercial actually showed someone online doing their business banking, and failed to mention or show a URL at any point during the ad. Missed that one! However, in a subsequent ad either late in the game or just after, they showed the address. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette talks about the launch of the campaign and describes some of the commercials. Looks like they need some link building quickly, as that article ranks first for “PNC leading the way” currently at Google. Kudos to PNC, however, for hosting the page on their Web site instead of farming it off to a new domain which is an SEO-no-no if you want your main site to benefit from the buzz. Again, more SEO talk later.

The biggest URL omission, in my opinion, was Revlon’s ad for the “Not fade Away” tour being performed by Cheryl Crowe, while her official colorist is supposed to be seething. I am seething because they have a decent idea that just begs for viral marketing of a Web site. It looks like is taken already and being used by a community that hopes to remember lost heroes and tragedies. I wouldn’t go there and try to buy that away, however the community seems small and some money may help them decide to use another URL. I was actually surprised to not find a Grateful Dead fan site there.

So Revlon is launching this “Not Fade Away” tour and maybe people would remember to go to to look for information. Too bad for them, as the home page currently doesn’t show any mention of it, let alone a link to a section of the Web site. So I assumed if I drilled down to the hair color page, I would be presented with more information? Wrong again. It is disappointing that Revlon would go this far to create am online buzz-worthy campaign with Cheryl Crowe and not release a Web site to go along with it. (added: looks like there is a page setup on a subdomain here. Might be nice to link to it from somewhere)

URL … But No Call to Action

For those that did display and/or mention URLs, not all actually encouraged the viewers to visit the site. A few ads were primarily designed for that purpose, such as Pepsi’s contest, which sponsored the halftime show and was hosted at, and the obvious,, CBS did a decent job of promoting two primary domains, including as well as In fact, they utilized a nice method of placing the links directly above the score given to viewers just before going into commercial breaks. These were done on a rotating basis, and not all scoreboards included a URL above them.

Speaking of CBS, it seemed like they really “poured it on” for their shows. Either it was just me or there were a lot more commercials for CBS shows than I had seen in past Super Bowls. Perhaps they didn’t get their entire inventory sold? It was very unfortunate not to see a wedding proposal in just one of those dozens of spots, which they could have shown and may have gained some new fans. For the full story on that see

URL … But Unreadable

Many of the ads that did show URLs displayed them in either a very small font or in an otherwise unmemorable manner. This may be because traditional advertisers have targeted those of us that look for domains as being likely to notice it. Or, if I was cynical, it could be that traditional agencies want to keep the focus on other marketing instead of driving interest to the Web site.

Either way, the following advertisers kept their domains small, and most of them did not have the announcer mention them: Honda, FedEx, Comcast (which should probably be driving as many links to as many pages as possible using the anchor text “Comcast customer service,” if the hope to ever get rid of the YouTube result for that search), Coca Cola (as mentioned), GM, and eTrade.

To me, eTrade made the cardinal sin of thinking everyone knew it was They do pretty well at Google for the search eTrade, and the majority of their target market has probably heard of them or will assume, but if you are spending 2+ million dollars driving people to a Web site, you would think that you should at least mention the URL somewhere.

URL … Done Right

The big winner in my opinion from a URL visibility standpoint was King Pharmaceuticals which led people to, literally with a thud as the heart figure is thrown into the wall. The longer version of the ad that aired first even had a double showing of the wall with the URL on it, although it was cut out in the shorter version. I would have kept it in both versions, since the goal is obviously to drive traffic to that site. I may also even throw a link to the commercial up on the Beat Your Risk domain.

The other URLs that did gain a mention will be analyzed in tomorrow’s Search Day for SEO value. By the way, congratulations to Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, and the Indianapolis Colts on winning Super Bowl 41, which was in fact quite entertaining for the most part. Of course had Vinatieri hit that field goal at the end of the first half I would have won that quarter’s office pool. The good news is that Tony went for it and gave the ball back at the end of the game, preserving my 4th quarter pool victory.

Related reading

youtube and child safety: is the service doing enough?
Google / YouTube and brand safety: What's next?
lessons learned from launching 100+ campaigns
Amazon Advertising, Prime Pantry