Pepsi, CareerBuilder, GoDaddy, Tide, T-Mobile and Cars.com all heeded that counsel and scored big in the fourth-annual Super Bowl search report card, compiled by search-engine-marketing firm Reprise Media. The biggest losers: Disney, Zantac and Hershey -- along with the entertainment industry -- which had negligible connections between their game-day ads and online presences.
Pepsi was clearly tops, said Peter Hershberg, managing partner at Reprise, with an integrated campaign that tied together an ad starring Justin Timberlake, an Amazon music promotion and smart keyword buys. The marketer bought keywords against the talent as well as the expected brand keywords; created specialized landing pages that were co-branded with Amazon's music store; and loaded extra behind-the-scenes ad content onto its site.
Mr. Hershberg called it "much more immersive" than most of the ads. "There was very clear consistency ... and they did quite a bit to get users to sign up once they were at that landing page," he said. Pepsi also could make a case for most-improved: It ranked at the bottom of the pile in Reprise's 2005 report card.
One change from years past: The report card took into account brands' social-media presences, a response to the fact that social-media sites are beginning to dominate search-engine results pages. One marketer that performed well last year thanks to its paid-search presence was Salesgenie.com. This year Reprise knocked it because it didn't have any presence in the category.
"As consumer behavior evolves, marketers need to evolve their tactics to reach potential customers," Mr. Hershberg said
Tide did a great job executing that principle, he said, by linking to its YouTube channel from a landing page created to handle Super Bowl search traffic. Only 6% of Bowl advertisers did that, illustrating that most brands still are not comfortable driving consumers anywhere but their own sites, Mr. Hershberg said.
A few marketers cleverly drafted off the money others were spending on TV ads. For the second year in a row, Edmunds.com bought keywords for makes and models from every auto manufacturer. Monster bought ads against CareerBuilder's tagline, "Follow your heart," and ESPN bought ads on Super Bowl terms, even though the big game was showing on Fox.
Audi's big fumble
One of the bigger fumbles came from Audi, which had a great presence in paid search, but when users clicked on the ads, they found a broken landing page -- a missed opportunity.
"While GoDaddy was able to handle the traffic [to its site], Audi actually fell down when it was most critical that their site be up and running," Mr. Hershberg said. He also noted that the entertainment industry underperformed for yet another year, with very little presence in paid search and next to none in social media.
When compared with the $2.7 million cost of a Super Bowl ad, "we're literally talking about pennies on the dollar to capture this traffic and go the full distance [through online integration]," Mr. Hershberg said.
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