E-Commerce Goes to the Super Bowl

E-commerce sites were well represented among this year’s Super Bowl advertisers, each investing an average $1.6 million (US$) for 30 seconds of commercial airtime. Yahoo!, Buy.com, HotJobs.com, the Monster Board, and even Victoria’s Secret.com ran Web-oriented ads during the game, while E*Trade opted for a pre-game blitz with six individual spots.

Two years ago, Auto-By-Tel became the first e-commerce company to advertise during the Super Bowl, with ads introducing the concept of shopping online for a new car. That mass-market exposure dramatically increased traffic to the site, making Auto-By-Tel an overnight success, and setting the scene for other e-commerce newcomers to follow.

Richard Johnson, founder and president of HotJobs.com hopes to have similar results. His two-year old company, which posted $4 million in sales for 1998, spent half that amount — some $2 million — to be among the elite Super Bowl sponsors this year.

It Was Denver vs. Atlanta andHotJobs vs. the Monster Board

Johnson summed up his strategy for the gutsy investment, saying, “The Super Bowl will thrust HotJobs.com into the mainstream by introducing us — in one instant — to an estimated 130 million television viewers worldwide.”

Of course, his much larger competitor, Monster.com, was there too, with at least double the airtime.

The monster of all Internet job-boards kicked off a compelling ad campaign that asks “What did you want to be?” Monster.com hopes to drive job seekers and employers online, hopefully in record numbers, to find the perfect match.

In fact, Internet recruiting is a lucrative and growing form of e-commerce.

Forrester Research indicates that employment is the fastest-growing category for online classifieds, out-pacing ads for automobiles and real estate. Forrester predicts spending for online recruitment ads will grow from $105 million in 1998 to $1.7 billion by 2003.

Other E-Commerce Sites at the Super Bowl


For their Super Bowl debut, Buy.com ran a commercial asking viewers, “Why Buy Anywhere Else?” That’s a solid pitch for the site that bills itself as “the industry’s first e-commerce portal.” On the other hand, their visual (of a man crawling up to a dog to take a sniff) just doesn’t make us want to “buy.com” much of anything.


Yahoo! continued its ongoing TV blitz with a series of “Do You Yahoo” commercials. Though the campaign focuses on bringing new users to Yahoo for its search engine, the increased traffic will no doubt filter straight through to online merchants in Yahoo! Stores.


Online investment site, E*TRADE also continued an aggressive marketing campaign with a blitz of six 30-second commercials during FOX’s pre-game Super Bowl coverage on Sunday. The company ran a similar campaign during the World Series, and reports that the investment in high-profile advertising over the past quarter has been a success. E*TRADE recently reported record levels in seven different areas, such as the number of new customer accounts, total cutomer accounts, and average transactions per day.

Victoria’s Secret

Though most of the traditional advertisers included a web address in their Super Bowl commercials, lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret stood out from the crowd. The commercial was a clever teaser, designed specifically to drive traffic to their new online store, under the pretense of a lingerie fashion show that will be broadcast only on the Internet. The live webcast takes place February 3rd — just in time for last minute Valentine’s Day shopping online.

Perfect timing… and a perfect tie-in to demonstrate the cross-marketing potential of TV and the Web.

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