Super Bowl Search Marketing Scorecard

While much attention was focused on the television ads aired during the super bowl, the real winners were those firms who combined traditional media with savvy search marketing campaigns.

Yahoo reports that searches on the phrase “Super Bowl XL Commercials” increased by roughly 800% in the day after the game was played. The phrase was one of the top 10 most searched upon terms on Yahoo, and the company said that advertisers including Cadillac, Honda and Dove all bid on the phrase and took advantage of the resulting increased search traffic.

Other popular search terms that had traffic spikes included “Mick Jagger” and “Tim Hasselbeck,” quarterback of the New York Giants and brother of Seattle quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck. The Yahoo Buzz Log had two posts analyzing Super Bowl related searches—one prior to the game on Saturday February 4th, and another post-game on Monday February 6.

Other game-related search phrases that saw increases included “Appetizer Recipes” (+336%), “Chicken Wings” (+97%) and “Salsa Recipes” (+76%).

Searches on Yahoo for “Cadillac Escalade” jumped over 75% after the Super Bowl. Cadillac ran a TV ad during the game and also made sure its bids for the search terms were high enough to get its paid listing to appear at the top of Yahoo’s sponsored search results.

But not all Super Bowl TV advertisers took advantage of the increase in search traffic, squandering huge opportunities to leverage their marketing messages. Yahoo singled out three major missed opportunities where advertisers who spent millions on television advertising could have captured major search traffic with just a little additional investment in search marketing.

Searches on “Pepsi on Yahoo increased by roughly 60% post-game, and there were thousands of searches on the term “” after their Super Bowl ad aired. Pepsi had no sponsored listings with Yahoo for those terms.

Searches for “Grey’s Anatomy,” a television show advertised by ABC, increased roughly 400% on Yahoo post-game. The search phrase “code black,” referring to a mysterious event in the show, jumped over 1000% percent on Yahoo. Warner Bros. “V for Vendetta” increased over 400% in traffic. Again, no sponsored listings to capture this traffic.

Reprise Media did a more formal, non-partisan analysis of Super Bowl advertising, looking at how well Bowl advertisers used search to harness the buzz generated by their commercials. They looked for Bowl advertisers using complimentary search marketing campaigns on Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found most advertisers used little or no search marketing to complement their TV ads—in fact, most didn’t even include web site URLs in the TV ads themselves. As a group, Dotcom companies were the savviest, while automotive companies (other than Cadillac) completely missed the opportunity.

Reprise identified three winners and three losers in leveraging search marketing with traditional advertising. The winners:

Career Builder had commercials backed up by keyword advertising against brand name, product (job search) and super-bowl related keywords.

Disney purchased advertising against the movie title “Shaggy Dog,” the film’s star (Tim Allen) and Super Bowl-related keywords.

Burger King purchased keywords including “Whopperettes” and “Burger King Super Bowl” directing users to an online Flash version of their commercials, allowing people to build a “burger” to their own specifications.

The losers seemed woefully uninformed about the opportunity they squandered.

PS (Productive Solutions) Cleaner is a new product that launched with a Super Bowl TV advertisement. Unfortunately, if the company has a site, Reprise says it isn’t visible at all in the search engines.

Pirates of the Caribbean neglected to put a URL in their commercial and had no search presence at all. The movie’s official site ( is buried deep within Disney’s sprawling corporate site., which would be the obvious brand site, is not owned by Disney. Contrast this lack of search savvy with the approach taken by the marketing group for Disney’s Shaggy Dog film mentioned earlier.

McDonalds had no paid search presence related to the Super Bowl, and Reprise says their corporate site suffers from confusing navigation, potentially turning interested users off from the hunt for more information.

For more details on the study, see the Super Bowl Search Marketing Scorecard.

Super Bowl Ads Video Archives

If you missed the big game, or just want to replay the ads, here are a number of sources for your viewing pleasure:

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Advertising Into the Void
Search Engine Guide Feb 8 2006 12:24AM GMT
Google Launches Robots.txt File Checker; Now We Need Robots.txt Standardization
Search Engine Watch Feb 8 2006 12:21AM GMT
Analysis: Paid search results often not worth the click
Computerworld Feb 8 2006 12:20AM GMT
Google blacklists–fair or not?
ZDNet Feb 8 2006 12:18AM GMT
Former Altavista CEO to launch new ad network
Business Week Feb 8 2006 12:17AM GMT
Amazon Eye’s Google’s Turf
Red Herring Feb 8 2006 12:16AM GMT
Forget the browser wars, prepare for the toolbar wars
CNET Feb 8 2006 12:15AM GMT
President of University of Michigan Talks Google Book Search
Search Engine Watch Feb 8 2006 12:14AM GMT
Next-Gen Libraries
Syllabus Feb 8 2006 12:12AM GMT
The Wayback Machine Announces Larger Archive
Search Engine Watch Feb 8 2006 12:07AM GMT
Udi Manber to Leave Amazon’s A9 For Google
Searchblog Feb 8 2006 12:02AM GMT
Hotchkiss: The 50 Millisecond Judgment
Search Engine Guide Feb 7 2006 2:31AM GMT
Play the Google Adventure
Google Blogoscoped Feb 7 2006 2:28AM GMT
The Poor Man’s Version of Dayparting
Search Engine Guide Feb 7 2006 2:04AM GMT
HighBeam Introduces Free Full-Text Journal Articles
Information Today Feb 7 2006 12:37AM GMT

Related reading

Simple Share Buttons