Dotcoms Line Up for Super Bowl Payoff

Despite a recessionary climate and a higher game entry fee, a batch of dotcom firms, some well-known, others long-absent and one appearing for the first time will be pitching sex, financial tips and even a $100,000 job to TV and online audiences in this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII.

NBC upped the ante for a 30-second spot to $3 million, according to GoDaddy.com, one of the advertisers, for a Super Bowl that pits the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals. That’s a 10 percent hike in price from Fox’s $2.7 million price tag last year.

The opportunity to reach 97 million eyeballs — last year’s viewership on Fox’s televised event — is more valuable than ever, given increasing viral online campaigns that spur attention, and traffic, to corporate product sites, according to one expert.

Research firm comScore reported last year’s Super Bowl spots prompted 13 percent of game watchers to go online to watch an advertiser’s ad.

“The price increase is negligible given what companies are also able to learn about their ad impact using online measurement tools such as polls and feedback,” Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, told InternetNews.com.

“The Super Bowl ad provides a strong hook to engage people in a way few other media opportunities provide,” Calkins noted.

That’s a fact returning veterans CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com know well. The two online job sites hope current turbulent economic times will prove boon time for their businesses, given all the recent layoffs. Both are running ads aiming to help job seekers.

CareerBuilder is banking on a funny 60-second spot, which will run in the third quarter, focused on whether it’s time for viewers to look for a new job.

According to a press statement, Super Bowl ads have proved to be a winning strategy for the nation’s online job site.

“We see a clear return on investment each year from the Super Bowl, with a multi-month surge in job seeker traffic and job applications, as well as increases in job postings and strengthened brand awareness,” Richard Castellini, chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

In the three months following its 2008 Super Bowl advertising, CareerBuilder.com posted a 68 percent increase in job applications year over year, a 20 percent increase in channel sales year over year and a 10 percent increase in year over year.

“Our recent job forecast found that 14 percent of employers will be hiring full-time employees in 2009 and additionally, 19 percent say they plan to increase online recruitment. We’re connecting workers with those opportunities and offering advice, with a wink and a nod, to help job seekers with some important decisions,” said Castellini.

Next page: Who’s in the game?

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Monster, which has bowed out of Super Bowls in the past few years, is going one step further in marketing an outright job opportunity.

Up for grabs in its televised spot is a $100,000 gig as “Director of Fandemonium.” This football fan will serve as goodwill ambassador for both Monster and the NFL at several marquee events during the 2009 NFL season.

Prospective job seekers will find out details during its TV spot airing right before the two-minute warning in the second quarter. The pre-game Web site promo notes job responsibilities include announcing a pick at the NFL draft and being in the coin toss ceremony at next year’s Super Bowl.

New to the Super Bowl ad roster lineup is Hulu, the one-year-old online video site owned by NBC Universal and News Corp. According to a spokesperson, Hulu is keeping quiet about its ad strategy before game time and declined to comment on its advertising spot.

A recent Advertising Age article noted the spot will reveal insight into how the site works.

But, as in past years, it’s likely that Web hosting site GoDaddy will be getting the most viewing attention this year given its risqué leanings in marketing. Not only will it have a Super Bowl game ad but is running uncut extended versions of the two ads it created for the event.

Last year GoDaddy’s advertisement was rejected by Fox and the company had to scramble up a new ad that directed viewers to its banned ad available on its home page.

This time around the company created two 30-second ad spots that gained NBC approval, though it did take several tries, according to GoDaddy Vice President Barbara Rechterman. NBC was not available for comment.

The company then faced a quandary it hadn’t expected; the decision of which commercial to showcase. So GoDaddy went to the Web once again. This time to let viewers chose which ad was Super Bowl-worthy.

While both ads feature sexy race car driver Danica Patrick, they feature different story lines.

The first, called “Shower,” features Patrick in a shower with another woman as three college students control the women’s movements from a computer keyboard.

The second, called “Baseball,” spoofs the industry’s recent steroids scandal using female anatomy as a visual aid.

A press release quotes GoDaddy CEO and founder Bob Parsons stating that the extended version of ‘Baseball’ “almost makes me blush.”

“Yes the Super Bowl is expensive,” said Rechterman, “but it’s worked in spades every year for us.”

Given this year’s story lines, and the male audience involved, there’s little doubt the ads won’t score some points.

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