Tide was one of the most clever advertisers during Super Bowl LII. The “It’s A Tide Ad” campaign had three commercials that parodied stereotypical ads in every category from jewelry to car ads, and featured cameos from Mr. Clean and Isaiah Mustafa, better known as the Old Spice Guy. The laundry brand essentially took over the commercial breaks because you’d see a Clydesdale horse and think, “Ok, Budweiser. Got it. Unless! That guy is wearing clean clothes; is this also A Tide Ad?”
The previous year, Tide was also a standout, taking fifth place in USA TODAY’s Ad Meter after sitting out several Super Bowls. And yet, if you Googled “How to do laundry,” Arm & Hammer was the first brand you saw.
While that’s no longer the case — Tide currently ranks third for that query, behind tutorials from YouTube and The New York Times — it shows that Super Bowl campaigns don’t always have strong SEO.
“The Super Bowl is the only time where consumers desire and seek out advertisements,” says Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor. “People are engaged and paying attention, so you have a captive audience. Every Super Bowl commercial will evoke some kind of reaction and a lot of people are going to search for something.”
Of the 20 most-watched broadcasts in U.S. history, 18 were Super Bowl games. Last year was number 10, with 103.4 million viewers. While measuring the ROI of these expensive ads (30 seconds costs roughly $5 million) is complicated, the lightning speed of the Internet does show how much a Super Bowl commercial can move the needle.
“Alexa Loses Her Voice” was last year’s crowd favorite, generating 1.5 billion media impressions and eventually becoming YouTube’s most-viewed ad of 2018. Compared with the previous Super Bowl weekend, Amazon Echo sales increased by 300%, while the perception that the device has “many uses in everyday life” increased by 5%.
With that much on the line, why doesn’t every brand make SEO a priority? Besmertnik believes that it’s usually more of an oversight than anything. With all the glamour and glitz surrounding Super Bowl commercials, search marketing simply gets overlooked.
“SEO is a byproduct of a customer-centric mentality,” he says. “If brands put themselves in the customer’s shoes, it leads them to a place where people research, which should bring them to SEO. If someone is looking for you and you don’t know they’re not finding you, you also can’t react to it.”
He offers GoDaddy as a brand that’s done a good job with Super Bowl SEO well. People know the web-hosting service for controversial commercials, all of which took consumers’ search behavior into account. For example, designing landing pages and other website content as proactive responses to search traffic. Notice that when the company’s search traffic peaked, the month was February.
Last year, MSN Money calculated Super Bowl spend, chronicling the 50 largest advertisers of all time. Budweiser was number one, with Pepsi in a distant second place. Many of the others toward the top of the list — Hyundai, Toyota and Ford have all spent more than $100 million over the years — are car brands.
An automobile is a huge purchase that undoubtedly involves plenty of online research. However, people still largely buy them at dealerships. That makes local search just as important.
“Say someone sees an ad for a fast food restaurant and searches ‘near me.’ If your citations aren’t consistent and you haven’t added structured menus to Google, you just lost all opportunity to be found after you created awareness,” says Zahid Zakaria, Senior Director of Insights and Analytics at Yext. “Our search experience changes the aperture for what we’re considering, which can happen in the micro-moment. You have to use schema to ensure you’ll be found, capitalizing on that wave of interest.”
This doesn’t just apply to Super Bowl advertisers, either. Yext found that Google search views for grocery stores jumped 6% week-over-week prior to last year’s game. Searches for restaurants also decline as more people order in; 60% of that takeout is pizza.
Domino’s isn’t advertising this year, but Pizza Hut is. Pizza Hut is also an official sponsor, which means the brand is incentivizing orders with NFLShop.com discounts. Additionally, a fleet of pizza delivery vehicles will drive around Atlanta on Sunday, offering prizes and surprises to local fans.
And as you can see above, when you Google “Super Bowl pizza,” Pizza Hut absolutely dominates the first page. Domino’s wants to stay competitive (I’m so embarrassed that I almost just typed “to get slice of the pie”) and you can be sure the brand is going to bring its SEO A game.
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