Super Bowl Ads Go Digital

By Emily Steel

Super Bowl ads aren’t just about the TV anymore.

In addition to traditional online marketing techniques, advertisers are experimenting with a bunch of new technologies in an attempt to get the biggest bang for their buck. Here are some examples of digital marketing campaigns tied to the big game this year.

Advertisers are experimenting with building applications for new media. As part of its effort to promote dog adoption, Mars’s Pedigree has created an iPhone application called “Shake and Bark.” Consumers can take a picture of their own dogs or download one of a dog looking for a home. The dog on the screen barks when consumers shake their phones. In addition, every video view on Pedigree’s Web site triggers a donation of a bowl of food to a dog shelter.

E*Trade has created a profile on the social networking site Facebook and on the social messaging site Twitter for the talking baby that stars in its commercials. “Spokesperson, child prodigy & financial wizard,” reads the baby’s bio on Twitter. So far, the baby has written messages that encourage visitors to watch the company’s behind-the-scenes outtakes of its TV spot.

Search advertising is still an important play for many of the game’s advertisers, including Castrol, H&R Block and says it is going to ramp up its presence in the search engines after the Super Bowl with paid search ads, buying both general commercial keywords aimed at Super Bowl ads and words that are more specific to “David Abernathy,” the character in the company’s Super Bowl ad. is creating a Super Bowl-specific landing page, where users can watch its TV ads. In addition, to boost its organic (unpaid) search results, is encouraging its bloggers to write about topics related to the Super Bowl.

Some marketers are being careful that their Super Bowl ad buys don’t cut into other portions of their business. H&R Block is buying search ads tied to its Super Bowl campaign but doesn’t want consumers looking for tax help to get stuck watching Super Bowl ads they don’t want to see. So H&R Block is buying search ad campaigns tied to tax-related terms, such as “tax preparation” and “H&R Block.” Web surfers who click on ads tied to those terms will get information about tax preparation. Web surfers clicking on ads tied to a search for the term “H&R Block commercial” will see Super Bowl ad-related information. “We are right in the middle of tax season, so we don’t want to all of a sudden be ineffective in a very direct-response mechanism,” says Paula Drum, vice president of marketing for H&R Block.