As you were watching "Da Bears" get skinned this year, you might have noticed that most advertisers ended their Super Bowl spots with URLs (Coke and Budweiser, surprisingly, did not). Many of the savvier advertisers even used Super Bowl-related landing pages to capitalize on increased traffic during the game.
But for the most part, Super Bowl XLI will go down in history as a string of missed opportunities, unrealized potential and uncoordinated offensives, and I’m not talking about Grossman's offensive team.
Advertisers neglected to put in play the most valuable element linking online and offline marketing: search campaigns.
It's a classic fumble. More viewers than ever are searching online during major television events (some are even live-blogging the ads instead of watching the game). But somehow, they don't connect, and that brilliant creative, backed by all the money in the first quarter budget? It was hauled off the field on a stretcher.
Here are six tips to make sure you don't hurt yourself during Super Bowl, uh, XLII, while you're making big plays for integrated marketing:
Call your signals loud and clear
While most Super Bowl TV spots include a URL, many of them don't explicitly direct viewers to visit. Of the advertisers who do drive viewers to their sites, most don't capitalize on the traffic with custom landing pages closely aligned with their campaign or commercial. Do both, and you’re ahead of the field. Add search, and you’re headed for Disney World.
Make your landing page an instant replay of the ad
When you build your landing page, be sure it looks like your spot, or at least prominently references items, actors, products or themes obvious to viewers of the commercial. That way, even viewers who end up there using seemingly unrelated keywords will stay because they recognize the Super Bowl tie-in.
It's a football game, right? Go Big Red!
Keywords about your brand are a sure bet, but never forget it's the Super Bowl. Consider buying football-related search terms to increase the visibility of your brand as users search for football items, trends, players, statistics, and the odd term kicked up by the color commentator. Relevance rules will lead to many of these buys being very temporary, so consider your copy, bids and timing carefully.
It ain't over 'til its over so buy accordingly
Don't just buy search terms during the coin toss or halftime, buy them actively and intelligently throughout the game. You're paying good money to be associated with everything Super Bowl during the game, so why not get in front of every Super Bowl-related search in the build-up and for a week after the game. You can even use the build-up to create suspense around a serial campaign and use the post-game to transition into viral or retention.
Semi-tough fans have money, too
There's a whole social networking audience out there. They may not be rabid face painters, but they still want to be part of the excitement. To reach them, create goodies like blogs, viral videos, deleted scenes, ringtones, screensavers and games. When you get that kind of interactive game going, you extend your reach far beyond the blue-faced crowd.
Invest in your special teams
You spent $2.6 million on a 30-second ad, and you won't spend another $20,000 for optimizing your online campaign? Why the heck not? That's like hiring a cheaper rookie place-kicker because he's only on the field for a few seconds of play. Seasoned search engine marketing firms -- and expert place-kickers -- are vitally important even when you can't see what they're doing, which is ensuring that you're scoring as many points as possible. Hire the best and be glad you did; it's a fraction of the cost of failure.
It costs $100,000 per second to advertise during the Super Bowl. Some people wonder if it's worth it. Whichever side of that coin toss you come down on, and even if you never come closer to the Super Bowl advertising than your Sony, you still need to integrate online and offline advertising.
Now for the two-point conversion: Isn't it funny that we're now calling what used to be the reigning champion of media advertising -- television commercials -- offline media?
All the more reason that search should be a part of any TV campaign.
Matt Kain is SVP, search marketing services for 24/7 Real Media, Inc. Read full bio.