• Super Bowl Ads are a Broadband Fumble, Again

    Once again it was an incredibly exciting Super Bowl. And once again, the ads were a broadband fumble. I've been saying for three years now that broadband has introduced a whole new opportunity for Super Bowl advertisers to derive more value and drive engagement, making the ridiculous $3 million per ad that they pay far more worthwhile. Regrettably, the brains behind most of the Super Bowl's ads seem hopelessly oblivious to this notion.

    I've watched all 56 ads this morning to see which ones had a broadband or online component. Here's what I found:

    • 37 of the ads (66%) were tagged with the advertiser's URL (though some of them went by so fast it would have been nearly impossible to remember or write them down). Akamai has reported traffic spikes for many of these sites. For the online sites like Priceline, Overstock, Monster and CareerBuilders, tagging works very well to reinforce the brand.
    • 19 of the ads (34%) were not tagged with the advertiser's URL. Oddly, this includes all of the Budweiser ads. From the people that brought us Bud.tv one would think they'd have a little more appreciation for the role of the web.
    • Of the 37 ads with a URL shown, only 6 contained an explicit call to action to visit the web site (GoDaddy "Continues at GoDaddy.com," Disney-Pixar "Up" movie, "To see a special first look go to Disney.com," Universal Heroes, "Visit site for a free 7 day ticket," Monster.com, "Never been a better time to go to Monster.com,", Frosted Flakes, "Help decide where at FrostedFlakes.com," and Vizio, "Visit us at Vizio.com to check out 55 inch million dollar event."). These show solid attempts at engaging the audience beyond the on-air ad itself.
    • Upon visiting the web sites of the 37 advertisers who tagged their ads with their URLs, 29 of them contained some video. But of these only 13 offered some video beyond just a replay of the ad. That means that of the total 56 ads, just 23% leveraged broadband video in some meaningful way.

    What are a few examples? GoDaddy was surely a hands-down video winner again, by urging viewers to visit their web site, presumably for even more titillating video of the GoDaddy girls and Danica Patrick. Bridgestone Tires offered behind the scenes of how their Potato Head ad was created. Three films, "Year One, " "Up" and "Monsters vs. Aliens" all provided some first look or behind the scenes video. Gatorade introduced the "MissionG" reality series that the brand is sponsoring. NFL.com which showed the winner of its "Super Ad Contest" (Usama Young) also has the full gallery of all the players' ads. In addition, Discovery told me that Toyota has a very cool "Making of" video for its Killer Heat ad for its Tundra playing on HowStuffWorks.com. Unfortunately, there was no promotion of it during the ad itself, or even on Toyota.com.

    Special mention of course to Doritos and its $1 million user-generated ad challenge. Amazingly, it looks like the ad did indeed top the USA Today AdMeter, and the creators are getting the $1 million prize.

    For all the other advertisers, this year's Super Bowl was much like all of the prior ones. Come up with your most creative idea, work your tail off to execute it, and get your 30 seconds of fame. Sure, with all of the online viewership, the total number of impressions will be far higher than past years. But still, I'm just amazed that more advertisers don't seize on broadband's benefits to build their audience and engagement.

    Three years ago I thought for sure this would happen, and as a result I was speculating that Super Bowl ads could eventually fetch $10 million. But with each passing year I'm getting a little more skeptical that big brand advertisers and their agencies actually understand what's happening with broadband video and how it opens up new horizons for them. Maybe 2010 will be different...

    What do you think? Post a comment now.