Dot-Coms' Super Bet


Some dot-coms just can’t get enough.

Internet job-listing sites and have both bought their $2.2 million, 30-second spots during Super Bowl XXXV’s Jan. 28 broadcast on CBS.

That’s a far cry from last year’s 19 dot-coms. Big losers last year who won’t be coming back include (the encyclopedia), online marketer (which went out of business in June), and, a stationery store.

Hotjobs CEO Richard Johnson laughed as he told how attitudes have changed. “We were negotiating with CBS for a few days, but really, because [competitor] had already bought its ads, the guy just shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘This is what you’re paying.'”

In 1999, Hotjobs became a star for its ambitious move into the most expensive TV ad slot in the world, gambling half its marketing budget.

In January of this year they were joined by a slew of companies hoping to do the same, many of whom were seeking attention from investors and the media as much as from consumers.

“Last Super Bowl was a time of bloated spending,” said Marissa Gluck of Jupiter Communications. “You just won’t see that again, given the market. But a few Web players, like the job sites and E*Trade, understand how to use the Super Bowl for their own benefit, so it makes sense for them to come back.”

One company that won’t be buying again is Connecticut-based, an online computer hardware and software retailer, famous for its ad in which gerbils were shot from a canon at a target. “It was a complete waste of money,” said CEO Bob Bowman. “We haven’t advertised on TV for two years now, and business is booming.”

Hotjobs is buying four 30-second spots, one during the game that is estimated to cost around $2.5 million

“We are huge fans of the Super Bowl,” said Johnson. “But we don’t expect lightening to strike twice – for anyone.”

Job-listings sites benefit particularly from the timing of the big game. The busiest time for job-hunting is January, after the holiday season with its bonuses, family demands and new resolutions. Hotjobs saw its user levels double and remain at the new level in the last two years.

Hotjobs closed at $12.88 yesterday, down $1.25. The stock is down nearly 75 percent from its 52-week high of $48 last December.