Taking TV Advertising Online – The Super Bowl Challenge

Duncan’s post yesterday about the Special K diet and how well Kellogg’s integrated television ads, search efforts and a website – this time in the form of a social community on Yahoo Groups – got me thinking about how companies are starting to become more conscious of the power of integrating their traditional media efforts with online and search marketing.

Seeing as though I work in search marketing, for years I have been disappointed at how many companies just simply drop the ball when it comes to coordinating their traditional marketing efforts with the vast opportunities that present themselves online.

Lately I have been pleased to see many companies doing a much better job of tying campaigns into a variety of different online efforts. From simply including their domain name in the spot, to encouraging viewers to go online for a special internet-only promotional offer, to launching fairly sophisticated niche sites and viral campaigns; more and more companies seem to be starting to “get it”.

Surely you’ve all seen Burger King’s Whopper Freakout TV ads by now. Whether you’re a loyal Burger King customer, or you try to avoid fast food altogether, you can appreciate these ads.

First of all they’re funny. Second, they aren’t trying to get you to come down to your local franchise and order a Whopper (well, not overtly anyway) – the call to action in these spots is to visit WhopperFreakout.com where you will find more of these advertisements in the form of viral videos.

Also funny, though considerably more strange, Cheetos has launched a campaign consisting of spots urging viewers to visit OrangeUnderground.com and join their movement. This site consists of an initial video message and contains links to YouTube videos of these spots, a “recipe book” (which consists of what are essentially recipes for playing out nasty Cheetos based pranks) as well as a blog – all geared towards getting people to commit “random acts of Cheetos”.

As the Super Bowl rapidly approaches, I’ve been thinking about the synergy of off and online media more and more. It will be interesting to see how many of the companies participating in the largest television advertising event of the year will have their Super Bowl ads supported by online campaigns. Last year was a resounding failure in this regard, with very few companies taking the initiative to coordinate any supporting online materials.

The cost of advertising during the Super Bowl this year has reached $2.7 million for 30 seconds. Paying to ensure you can be found for related searches during and after the big game is a mere pittance by comparison. There is no excuse for not making this investment. The return that can come from engaging your customers will more than pay for itself.

Hopefully this year will be different than last – we’ll all just have to tune in and find out. I know that I’ll not only be watching the game, but I’ll have my laptop handy to see how the advertisers do. While I’ll be interested in each one of the ads, I’ll be looking to Anheuser Busch especially to lead the way – reportedly running ten spots this year.