Are you ready for some dot-com ads?

Internet firms prepare for huge ad blitz – and the Super Bowl

By Jane Weaver MSNBC

Dec. 8 – Suffering from “dot-com” commercial overload? Well don’t count on a slowdown anytime soon. A slew of Internet companies such as and plan huge marketing pushes in the new year, and about a dozen Internet companies will use Super Bowl XXXIV to kick off their new ad campaigns.

ALTHOUGH THE CURRENT frenzy of online retailers practically begging consumers to shop at their Web stores will die down after the holiday season, many Internet companies are readying ad campaigns for a first-quarter launch – when the airwaves will hopefully be less filled with every “dot-com” Dick and Harry. According to PaineWebber projections, dot-com companies – both newcomers and veterans like Yahoo! and E*Trade Group – are expected to spend an estimated $1.8 billion on mainstream media in the coming year. Internet advertising on TV should top $500 million next year, David Poltrack, executive vice president of research and planning at CBS, told investment analysts at the Paine Webber media conference in New York this week. That’s roughly the same as 1999, when Net companies poured an estimated $1.9 billion into marketing across all offline media.

DANGER OF DOT-COM CLUTTER? The year’s first major dot-com splash happens during the Jan. 20 Super Bowl on the ABC network, known as the only event where TV viewers actually look forward to the commercials. The rush of Internet companies into the game has nearly doubled the cost for a commercial, with some of the 60 30-second spots going for an incredible $3 million each. And for the first time, an Internet company, E*Trade, is sponsoring the half-time show. Among the Internet companies expected to break new commercials are,,,,, and, formerly Romac International.

The threat of dot-com clutter during the big game has one of the initial advertisers,, considering whether to pull out of the Super Bowl and launch its first-quarter campaign at a later time. “We’re really hesitant to do it,” says Jay Chiat, chairman of ScreamingMedia. “There’s been such a plethora of dot-com companies in the Super Bowl, way beyond what we expected. They’ll all meld together.” A business-to-business company, ScreamingMedia filters, syndicates and distributes content to corporate Web sites. Ad legend Chiat knows what he’s talking about. Plus he’s got a reputation to maintain. Under Chiat’s creative control, his then agency Chiat/Day helped turn the Super Bowl into an advertising showcase with the phenomenal “1984” Apple Computer commercial. “If we had a spot that could generate the kind of attention and excitement appropriate for the company, we would go ahead, but I’m not sure we’ve solved it,” says Chiat with a candor unusual for an Internet executive. Chiat says the company will decide next week whether to run in the Super Bowl. At several million dollars a pop, ScreamingMedia is probably on the right track in considering a pullback. “Last year the value wasn’t in the actual Super Bowl, the Internet companies got more than their money’s worth just from PR before and after the game,” says Jim Nail, senior analyst with Forrester Research. “You need that kind of payoff. This year is so crowded, they won’t get that level of coverage.” The dot-com Super Bowl Shuffle doesn’t daunt Richard Johnson, CEO of The online recruiter bought $2 million worth of Super Bowl ad fame in January 1999 and plans to use the upcoming game as a launching pad for its first major ongoing campaign.