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How Marketers Lost Out to Aggregator Sites After Big Game

Millions Re-Viewed Super Bowl Spots Last Week, but Branded Sites Missed Out Attracting Eyeballs

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Super Bowl advertisers fumbled post-game viewing of their ads online by failing to buy search terms such as "Super Bowl ads" and overlooking in their marketing popular websites that aggregate Super Bowl ads.

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Even though Super Bowl ads were among the most-watched internet videos last week, a close look at the data reveals that marketer websites are increasingly losing out to a growing array of video sites and blogs that aggregate ads for post-game viewing.

Day after Super Bowl
On Feb. 5, the day after the Super Bowl, seven of the 10 most-watched internet videos on 13 top video sites, including YouTube, Yahoo, Metacafe and iFilm were Super Bowl ads, according to Vidmeter.com. An eighth was Pizza Hut's pre-game ad.

And the more than 10 million Super Bowl ad streams counted by Vidmeter didn't even include those from other specialty sites, including SuperBowl-Ads.com and AOL Sports, with the latter reporting 15 million ads streamed on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday. Even byFeb. 9, two of the 10 most watched online videos per Vidmeter were Super Bowl ads.

Yet Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brands -- the game's biggest advertisers -- saw much smaller bumps in traffic to their brand websites than in past years, according to data from Alexa.com. Last year, Alexa showed traffic for to the Bud sites peaking at around 700,000 a day during Super Bowl week last year, compared with slightly more than 300,000 this year.

GoDaddy, which generated significant Super Bowl traffic bumps the past two years, saw no distinguishable traffic increase around this year's ad, according to Alexa data.

Traffic to brand sites down
Data from Akamai also suggest traffic to brand websites from Super Bowl ads isn't what it used to be. Akamai tracked a peak of 282,546 visits per minute to marketer websites linked to the Super Bowl during the Feb. 4 game, less than half the peak of 782,679 Akamai recorded during last year's game.

Not even established Super Bowl ad aggregators are winning the post-game buzz bowl. Alexa data indicates iFilm.com and SuperBowl-Ads.com each got less than half the traffic this year that they got last year from their Super Bowl ad offerings.

Diffusion of Super Bowl ads to a growing number of entertainment sites and bloggers seeking to capitalize on ad revenue generated from the traffic make it increasingly difficult for anyone to capture a huge share of the market, said Joshua Stylman, managing director of web research firm Reprise Media.

Search advertising around such terms as "Super Bowl ads" is one way marketers could capture more of the post-game viewership for themselves, he said, but it's something relatively few had in place after this year's game. Ironically, though, one of the most aggressive Super Bowl search advertisers, Mars' Snickers, took down its Afterthekiss.com microsite following controversy over its ad.

Missed opportunity
Having millions of people opt to watch their ads as entertainment at no additional cost -- not even for bandwidth -- isn't exactly bad news for marketers. But it does represent a missed opportunity to use the ads to further engage consumers with their brands on their own websites, said Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer of Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

"What they can't do on those [aggregator] sites is take names, build relationships and promote their [other] content," he said.

One thing many of the Super Bowl aggregators do that brand websites don't is solicit feedback on the ads, he said. By next year, Mr. Blackshaw expects more Super Bowl advertisers will look for ways to incorporate aggregator sites into their marketing.

YouTube was a surprising laggard among the online video sites this year, with users having posted few of the Super Bowl ads by Monday morning. By the following Tuesday, however, YouTube had created a "SuperVote" microsite and gallery of all the ads.

Some advertisers, too, made adjustments well after the game that built buzz. Emerald Nuts bought a paid placement for its ad on the front page of YouTube on Feb. 8, helping catapult it into the top-10 list on Vidmeter that day.
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