Multiply the Effect of Your Brand’s Super Bowl Commercial through Digital Integration

Topic: Digital strategies to support your Super Bowl commercial
OpportunityMaximize your Super Bowl commercial investment
Channels Impacted: TV, paid search, organic search, mobile, social, display

This year, Super Bowl advertisers will spend a record $3.5 million per 30-second spot.  This investment positions advertisers in front of the largest television audience of the year; for instance, Super Bowl 2011 drew a record 111 million U.S. viewers.  And this year—for the first time ever—the big game will air online (including on mobile devices).  Football fans—and commercial fans—won’t miss a second of the action, even as they run to the fridge and the bathroom.

A Super Bowl commercial buy is the ultimate branding play.  But getting your product/service in front of 100+ million people doesn’t mean your job as a marketer is done.  Your Super Bowl ad boosts brand awareness, thus spurring people to search online for your brand or talk about your commercial on social networks.  Once this happens, you must maintain the connection that your Super Bowl commercial created with your participant.

We’ve provided five tips to strategically optimize your Super Bowl investment and position your brand to capture the demand created by your 30-second spot:

1.  Ensure 100% Search Coverage, Especially on Mobile

This year more than ever, Super Bowl viewers won’t be glued to their television screens.  They’ll be multi-viewing—using their tablets and smartphones to see online-only camera angles, in-game highlights, live stats, commercial replays and behind-the-scenes access.  Since last Super Bowl, we’ve seen an explosion in mobile device usage, and smartphones and tablets were among the top holiday gifts.  Super Bowl 2012 is the perfect time for viewers to complement their TV with tablets and smartphones. 

In particular, we expect mobile search usage to spike during the game as viewers seek out their favorite commercials.  This means that brands must support their Super Bowl commercials with paid search campaigns on desktop, smartphones and tablets.  Ensure that you have ample paid search budget allocated to support potentially huge traffic spikes—Super Bowl commercial keywords are always among the hottest Google search terms during and after the game.  Bid on brand and brand + “Super Bowl commercial” keywords on the engines and YouTube.  Align your Super Bowl search campaign with marketing/PR plans to ensure coverage and ad rank during commercial launch, as well as two to three weeks post-Super Bowl to extend shelf life.  Test your commercial on smartphones and tablets to ensure an optimal mobile experience for your viewer.

2. Beware of Hijackers

You’re the one investing $3.5 million for your 30-second spot.  But your competitors may seek to steal your thunder.  The most notorious example of hijacking occurred in 2006 when Pontiac ran a Super Bowl commercial that encouraged viewers to Google “Pontiac.”  Competitor Mazda took advantage, aggressively bidding on the “Pontiac” keyword and driving searchers to a landing page that compared Pontiac to Mazda. 

To defend against opportunistic hijackers, consider monitoring your brand keywords in real-time during and after your commercial airs.  Trademark monitoring tools, like Performics’ Benchtools, can identify when a competitor is bidding on your brand keywords.  When a hijacker is identified, you must ensure your ad is running above that competitor.  This may involve increasing bid and then easing back after the hijacker is gone to maintain efficiency.   Additionally, consider overpowering hijackers by dominating the search engine results page (SERP) during the Super Bowl.  One way to do this is by organizing your local dealers, franchisees, regional sites, channel partners or affiliates to bid on your brand name in conjunction, thus pushing potential hijackers down (or off) the SERP.

3.  Don’t Forget to Bid on Your Commercial’s Themes

Many Super Bowl advertisers have paid search coverage for brand keywords, but neglect to bid on the themes associated with their commercials.  These themes—especially if they’re unique or creative—can generate massive search volume.  For example, in 2009, ran a memorable ad featuring a new character named David Abernathy.  David Abernathy was a mysterious guy; commercial viewers naturally wanted to learn more about him.  They turned to Google for answers.  In fact, the “David Abernathy” keyword ranked #1 in Google Search Trends immediately after the commercial ran:

Superbowl trends
But wasn’t running a paid search ad associated with the “David Abernathy” keyword, and because the keyword was so new (literally, created the moment the commercial aired), the commercial was not yet ranking in organic search.  Thus, had a captive search audience, but failed to capitalize. 

Brainstorm all the potential themes around your commercial that could create buzz.  In addition, use social listening tools or monitor Twitter in real-time as your commercial airs.  People will instantly start buzzing about your commercial’s themes, and these themes should quickly be added to your paid search campaigns.  Additionally, consider bidding on Super Bowl themes that are unrelated to your commercial, like “Super Bowl Half Time Show.”  Monitor the day’s events in real-time on the social networks to catch wind of big surprises, hot news or mess-ups that could be used as keywords for your search campaigns.

4.  Make it Easy for Viewers to Find Your Commercial Online

After your commercial airs on TV, people must be able to easily find it across paid search, organic search and social:

Paid Search

  • For search engine queries like “[brand] Super Bowl” and “[brand] commercial” (as well as your commercial’s themes), lead searchers directly to a page that houses your commercial.  Consider driving commercial-oriented queries directly to your YouTube Channel or Facebook Page, rather than an owned domain.
  • For brand queries that don’t indicate clear intent to watch your commercial, include a sitelink in your ad that allows searchers to directly navigate—if they want—to your commercial
  • Employ YouTube paid search ads that lead YouTube searchers to your commercial

Organic Search

  • Ready an SEO-optimized landing page that houses your commercial to launch as soon as your commercial airs
  • Don’t embed your commercial in Flash on your site; give it a unique URL so that it’s quickly indexed by search engines
  • Optimize tags and content on the commercial’s landing page for Super Bowl-oriented queries and commercial themes


  • Prominently feature your commercial on your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages as soon as it airs.  The earlier your commercial is posted to sites like YouTube, the faster your commercial will appear in the organic search results.
  • Create a Twitter hashtag for your commercial and encourage your followers to use it
  • Enable your commercial to be easily +1ed and “Liked” to catapult social—and organic search—reach

5.  Extend Reach with Contextual Targeting

Consider running display or search ads on content sites pre-Super Bowl to foster anticipation for your commercial.  For example, sites like the Food Network will be hot before the Super Bowl as people seek out party food and recipes.  You could also contextually target articles that feature Super Bowl-related content leading up the game.

For additional information on integrating TV and online video, see Forrester’s report, Why Marketers Must Integrate TV and Video Strategies.

For more strategies to multiply the effect of your Super Bowl commercial, contact your Performics account team today.

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