What do “Shankapotamus”, “PepSuber”, “drinkability”, and “LMAO” have in common? Two things, actually. First, they’re all words that advertisers spent $100,000 per second to build buzz around during the Super Bowl, and secondly, they were all available as search terms on Google the morning after the advertising aired.

The current highest ranking link for “shankapotamus” for example leads here, to this apparently unaffiliated and unsuspecting blogger’s site. For those who missed it, the word comes from E*Trade’s hilarious and highly memorable ad. Loved the ad, too bad about the missing traffic.

So why are advertisers in an economy like this spending millions on Superbowl ads to light a spark of interest but neglecting to convert that interest to online engagement with search? This is not exactly a novel problem. Three years ago, in a legendary advertising coup, GM learned that Ford would be running a Super Bowl ad featuring Kermit the Frog to promote its FlexFuel “green” hybrids and bought the keyword “kermit” first, thus effectively drafting most of the web search traffic the ad generated. That same year AT&T rolled out “mLife” on the Super Bowl and was roundly criticized for having nothing for users who then searched for “mLife” online. I’d have thought the lesson would be clear.

Advertisers have gotten a little better since then, and not all of them missed the boat on search. GE, for example, ran this Scarecrow ad (check it out, on Hulu even the ads have ads), and bought “Scarecrow” on Google, but so did IBM, with the suggestive “Saw our Grid TV Ad?” …although their link appears to have no connection to the advertising. GE’s site, however, does a good job of expanding on its story and the ad contains a memorable URL, ecomagination.com, that also captures traffic (GE and IBM both bought that keyword too).

In fact, our most recent survey of marketers and agencies suggests that it’s the ad agencies, rather than their clients, that are lagging behind in cross-platform execution. The thinking is clearly there, but it seems organizational barriers are still hampering results. Clients should be demanding this from their agencies before they sign off on Super Bowl-sized campaigns.

The good news is, not only does the Super Bowl still generate buzz and sell out its advertising, but the buzz gets highly amplified by social media like Twitter and YouTube. If only the agencies could figure out how to connect the dots.


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