Dot-Com Advertisers Say Super Bowl Exposure has Attracted Bigger Audiences
By Skip Wollenberg
NEW YORK – Those pricey Super Bowl commercials appear to have helped Internet companies attract bigger audiences for their Web sites.
“We couldn’t be more pleased,” Michael Budowski, chief executive of the online wedding stationery outlet Ourbeginning.com, said Wednesday in a refrain echoed by several other first-time, dot-com Super Bowl sponsors.
He said visits to his Web site climbed six times on Sunday and were up four times normal on Monday and Tuesday, and orders were up sharply.
“It was a huge amount of money, but now I can see why it cost that much,” the Web entrepreneur said Wednesday. He said he may be back next year.
Marketing experts will be watching Ourbeginning and the 16 other dot-com companies that appeared on the Super Bowl to see if they can maintain the momentum.
About three dozen network advertisers overall paid a record average of $2.2 million to be on Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast, in which the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
ABC estimated the game and the ads were seen at least in part by more than 130.7 million people, the fifth-biggest audience for any TV telecast.
The Internet audience for Web sites maintained by Super Bowl advertisers rose 15.7 percent in the 24 hours after the Super Bowl telecast, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, an Internet measurement service. The increase was 50 percent larger than the 10.7 percent rise in the overall Internet audience, it said.
Among the strongest performers, the service said, were Oxygen.com, a Web site designed for women, and the job-search site Hotjobs.com.
Oxygen Media, which operates the Oxygen.com site and launched a new cable TV channel on Wednesday, had run an ad in the Super Bowl which showed newborn girls who had discarded their pink knit hats in the hospital nursery.
Its Web site had an audience of 173,689 unique visitors – repeat visits by the same person don’t count – on Monday, nearly matching the 189,812 visitors it had in the entire previous week.
Hotjobs.com, advertising in its second Super Bowl with a commercial featuring its new computer hand icon, had nearly 156,000 visitors on Monday, up 48 percent from its total for the entire week leading to the game.
Richard Johnson, president and chief executive of Hotjobs, said the Super Bowl ad led to “the biggest sustained day of traffic” ever for the site. He said the site was getting one resume every 2.4 seconds a day after the game compared with one every 12 seconds in mid-January. “It was great for us,” he said.
Another Internet measurement service, Media Metrix, said Super Bowl advertiser Web sites posted a 39 percent increase in visitors on Sunday and Monday compared with the average for the same two days in the previous three weeks.
WebMD.com, an Atlanta-based Internet health site that ran a Super Bowl ad featuring Muhammad Ali shadowboxing, was first with 497,000 visitors, up 96 percent, Media Metrix said. Second was Lifeminders.com, which saw its visitors more than double to 491,000.
Its ad boldly declared it was “the worst commercial on the Super Bowl,” but said it was a pro at its business of sending electronic reminders and advertising to subscribers who request them.
After the Lifeminders ad ran, visitor traffic at the site surged as much as 15 times normal, spokesman Scott Sutherland said, and new members signed up at a pace of 5,000 every 15 minutes until midnight.
He said “we’ll consider doing it again.”
The job service Monster.com, which ran an ad that featured the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken,” came in third 414,000 visitors, according to Media Metrix.
Jeff Taylor, founder and chief executiuve of Monster.com, said the job site’s second appearance in the Super Bowl led to records – 4.4 million job searches over a 24-hour period and 19,100 new resumes in a single day.
“It was fantastic. We showed we can use the Super Bowl even as a large player in our space,” he said.
Among the other top finishers were the online broker E-Trade and the World Wrestling Federation’s site.
Marketing experts say the Super Bowl advertisers have to keep advertising and making sure their Web sites deliver as promised if they are to take advantage of the visibility achieved in the telecast.
Doug McFarland, general manager at Media Metrix, said Monster.com and Hotjobs.com each “did very good jobs of holding their audience” since last year’s Super Bowl.
“The interesting thing will be how well will this group do,” he said.