Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Super Bowl's Online Game

The Super Bowl on CBS isn't just about TV. Advertisers who hell out millions for a 30-second spot are working hard to maximize their return on investment, so they're going online.

Integrated web campaigns can cash in on a 30-second spot for weeks before and after the big game. Of the game's 100 million viewers, 40 million will also watch the ads online, and 26 percent of that group plan to share their favorite ads with friends, according to Venables Bell & Partners ad agency. Engaging with consumers about an ad, offering a preview or letting them vote on which wins, makes them feel invested in the commercial and connected to the brand. Think how rare it is in this day of TiVo for people to be *excited* to watch a commercial.

Coca-Cola says its web campaigns leverage its game day ad impact by a factor of three. Coke is now the most popular consumer product page on Facebook, boosted by a new philanthropic campaign. Coke gives Facebook users a sneak peak at its Super Bowl ad if users gift virtual cokes to their friends. For each Facebook gift, Coke makes a donation to the Boys and Girls Club charity. It's pretty clever: give the customers an incentive to share the Coke brand with their friends and make watching an ad the prize.

Doritos is again sponsoring a "Crash the Super Bowl" contest for amateur filmmakers to create spots for the game. Doritos puts the finalists online for web surfers to vote on which spots should air during the game. Need incentive to vote? Doritos is giving away a pair of Super Bowl tickets for every day of voting. This strategy engages viewers and also slashes the cost of producing commercials, which can run as high as $1 million for a 30-second ad.

Anheuser-Busch is also offering viewers a choice. Bud's Facebook page allows viewers to vote on which commercial they want to see during the big game, also polling its 252 million Facebook fans on how they plan to consume Bud and where they'll watch the game. Bud's also offering previews of its ads online.

E*TRADE only bought one ad this year, but it's counting on its online ad blitz to make its TV investment pay off in a big way. Last year online campaigns around E*TRADE's Super Bowl ad helped grow traffic to by 86 percent and new accounts by 19 percent in the weeks after the game. This year it's hoping to boost those numbers. One new way it's engaging consumers is by encouraging web surfers to customize and share talking baby messages from its memorable ads. 

And YouTube always plays a massive role whenever we talk about online video.

YouTube's "Ad Blitz" hosts Super Bowl ads after the game is over, allowing consumers to vote on their favorite ad, and then posting the winner on the YouTube home page. (YouTube streams over a billion views per day, so you can imagine how much that's worth.) Last year YouTube streamed 27 million ads in the week following the game.

Google's Managing Director of US Sales, Jim Lecinski, tells us that as soon as an ad runs, searches for the spot immediately rise by an order of magnitude of thousands of percents. And since Google, of course, sells search ads; it works with the Super Bowl advertisers to buy ads that will best drive web surfers to the ad on the Ad Blitz site.

Proof that a 30 Second TV ad can have an impressive impact online: Last year Super Bowl advertisers saw an average 63 percent spike in traffic the day after the game. As online campaigns become more integrated and sophisticated, we'll see if those numbers jump even more.

Questions?  Comments?