Dot-Com Ads to Be as Scarce as Professional Cat Herders During the Super Bowl
BY MARTIN RENZHOFER
Remember the cowboys herding the cats during last year’s Super Bowl commercials? Funny, right?
OK, what company aired the ad? Can’t remember?
Don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too. It was EDS, a digital resource company.
EDS was one of the 19 dot-coms who took the big plunge and spent $2 million each for 30 seconds worth of Super Bowl exposure. (And that doesn’t include the expense of producing the ad.) Many dot-coms blew more than half their advertising budgets for one big shot.
Call it the Oklahoma Land Rush of the Internet.
For many online companies, the wheels fell off the wagon. Pets.com and marketer Epidemic.com, for example, were two of the businesses that jumped feet first into the ad spending spree.
That expensive plunge concluded with a face-first splat into the empty swimming pool of “out of business.” Needless to say, the Internet bubble has burst.
At least, that is the opinion of AutoTrader.com vice president Clark Wood. AutoTrader.com also aired a spot during last January’s Super Bowl. Its ad ran in the third quarter.
Unlike many, AutoTrader, according to Wood, has flourished. Business is up.
So far Hotjobs.com and Monster.com have shelled out the $2.5 million CBS is charging for this year’s game on Jan. 28.
“I loved the herding cats,” said Wood. “It was well-executed. But what did it have to do with EDS?”
For many Super Bowl viewers, the commercials are a large part of the event. Yet it takes more than one broadcast to fix a company in a viewer’s mind.
“Our research says you need to see an ad three times before it sinks in,” said Wood. “That’s why our strategy was to use it as a springboard, but to use advertising after that.”
AutoTrader.com, a national database for used cars, actually used the prestige of advertising during the Super Bowl as a focal point in a larger campaign, which included sweepstakes at trade shows.
The failure of many dot-coms to take advantage of their Super Bowl television exposure was rooted in poor planning and a poor business model. It is easier to pick up a can of cat food at the grocery store than it is to buy it through a dot-com.
The dot-carnage of the last year prompted venture capitalists to shift their big bucks from television and print advertising to cheaper online ads. In the last year, venture capitalists dumped $3.1 billion into offline media. It obviously didn’t work.
So, what commercials can viewers expect in January? Look for established traditional businesses to continue the bloated spending during Super Bowl air time.
“We’re coming back to basics that you measure [good] business by,” said Wood. “Last year’s Super Bowl proved good advertising makes a bad product fail faster.”
That means more Bud Bowl and fewer sock puppets.