Chevy bests competitors in Super Bowl SEM showdown

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Monday morning quarterbacks focus on two main topics the day after the Super Bowl: the plays that turned the game and, of course, the commercials. And why not? Advertisers spend millions just for 30 seconds of your attention.

But how attentive are we? Paid search is a great way to measure. The immediacy and measurability of SEM provide great insight into what ads viewers are paying attention to. Companies can leverage not just their brands, but also the themes of their ads, to garner traffic for days following high profile events like the Super Bowl. Data from Google, comScore and others shows search queries around these terms increase during and after the Super Bowl, making SEM a great opportunity for big game advertisers (and their competitors). 

The smart advertisers put themselves in a position to keep scoring after Super Sunday. Chevy seemed to be the most aggressive; leveraging not only its own themes, but many others related to other Super Bowl advertisers' themes.  They were one of a few who leveraged concepts from their TV commercials in paid search ads, including its Transformers movie tie-in (thanks to the Bumblebee character) to market its Super Bowl ads for searches on “Transformers.”

A handful – mostly automakers and related sites – anticipating the hordes searching for “Super Bowl ads” bid on the phrase to make sure they were front and center, including Cars.com, Volkswagen and Audi.

Several others bid on their competitors thematic phrases to ride their rival's Super Bowl tide. The Teleflora spot featuring Faith Hill prompted a search for “Faith Hill Commercial,” which netted ads for not only Teleflora, but its competitors FTD and 1-800-Flowers as well. Similarly, a search for “Darth Vader” – a pint-sized version of whom starred in a VW Passat ad – resulted in ads for Chevy.

 If you happened to perform a search for “Black Eyed Peas” after they were introduced for the halftime show, you might have been surprised not to see ads for the show's advertiser, Chatter. But instead you would have found ads for Chatter's competitor, Yammer, who not only bid on the band's name with several rotating ads, but also took a dig in one of its ads, stating “Will.I.am can't make Chatter as good as Yammer.” Oh, and Chevy bid on them as well. Chevy was everywhere.

So what does this mean for advertisers? For starters, it means some are finding ways to tie online and offline marketing together. If you're spending millions on branding during one of TV's biggest events, why not leverage a measurable, attributable direct response channel to pull in the ensuing online audience. While many seemed to miss this opportunity, others became more creative and more aggressive.  Some just bought everything — like Chevy.

Dave Ragals is VP of client services at SearchIgnite.

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