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Super Bowl ads reveal big companies don't get it

Super Bowl ads will be a big talk of the day, and at $2.7 million a pop, companies are hoping that there will be a lot of talk that continues long beyond today. Too bad that so many of the commercials were so 1.0.

It may be a toss up today whether the talk around the office will be more about the game (way to go Giants) or about the commercials. The commercials of course are a big draw for many and at least an entertaining bonus for others. Big name companies employ big name ad firms to come up with something that will hopefully be extraordinary and memorable. And at $2.7 million for 30 seconds, getting the most bang for the buck should be a no-brainer.

But unlike some of the popular TV shows, if the Super Bowl ads are any indication, it appears that many big companies and ad firms just don't get it and continue to deliver "Ads 1.0." Perhaps it is the big brand mentality that we so often see when dealing with the Web, but I'm not even talking about full-blown social media campaigns here--how about just getting the URL up on the screen.

After re-watching the commercials from the game over at MySpace, I saw that more commercials had URLs shown than I remembered. But the fact that it took another viewing and perhaps a freeze frame of the video to catch it is very telling. What's more amazing is that many of these advertisers spend huge amounts year-round on brand advertising--just building up impressions, maintaining that top-of-mind presence of keeping the brand out in front of people. This type of advertising should be all about capitalizing on building that connection with the audience, and what better way to do that than to get them to the Web site.

Never mind whether the commercial is a hit or a dud, it is still an impression, and the last thing I'd want to leave the viewer with would be how to see more about the company or the product. A number of the ads didn't feature a URL at all, and for many that did, it was so insignificant to even matter (especially when these end up in small video windows online). Only a handful of the ads made sure that the last few seconds of the precious 30 left the viewer with a clearly readable and hopefully memorable URL.

Thankfully though, not all of the companies missed the mark. There were a couple standouts that do get it, like Tide, with, and SoBe Life Water, with They developed sites around the commercials to continue the conversation after the season wraps up. With some online interactivity, these are great examples of making the most of traditional advertising in a Web world. Hopefully if or when these standalone sites are decommissioned, they'll also be savvy enough to put 301 permanent redirects in place to capture continued traffic, PageRank, and link love.

The good news is that there is a year before the next Super Bowl for the company and ad execs to start thinking about how they can get more value out of the big game. Here's a little food for thought:

  • Get your URL up in the last 5 to 10 seconds and make it big and easy to read, not just on the big screen, but for when they make their way to online.
  • Put commercial outtakes or bloopers up on the site.
  • Get the commercial out on YouTube or other video sites as soon as it airs.
  • Give people a reason to stay on the site--coupons, games, tips.
  • Give people a way to interact--put together a blog and have a number of posts ready to launch out of the gate and allow visitors to comment and discuss the ad.
  • Look to other social media venues to round out the campaign--MySpace, Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc.

And that's really just the tip of the iceberg, but at this rate, better to aim at crawling before we worry about running.