GoDaddy Spikes Searches, Web Visits With Controversial Ad

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Controversy is a boon for domain seller GoDaddy.com. The Web company, which took heat for airing a racy commercial during last year's Super Bowl, is battling ABC and the National Football League over its planned $2.6 million TV ad for this year's game Feb. 5.


ABC recently rejected the 10th version of the ad submitted by the company, though the company expects approval. This year the NFL wants to approve GoDaddy's ad before it airs, the Scottsdale, AZ, company said. GoDaddy has not announced the content of this ad.


The league told Fox last year that it was disappointed with GoDaddy's Super Bowl ad spoofing the Janet Jackson debacle from two years ago. Fox then pulled the ad, which had been scheduled to run a second time during the game, because of the NFL's complaint. Pulling the paid-for ad prompted a lawsuit against Fox that was settled.


The site's marketing efforts, including Web-only versions of its commercials and paid search advertising around Super Bowl terms, have benefited from the controversy. GoDaddy president Bob Parsons continues to fuel the fire via press releases and his blog, www.BobParsons.com, which updates visitors on negotiations with ABC.


Coupled with media and consumer attention, GoDaddy's current "Window Washer" ad, which aired during the NFC Playoffs on Fox Television, has boosted visits to its Web site, searches for GoDaddy.com and customer response. Each time the spot aired during the playoffs, site traffic spiked 2,000 percent, said Barb Rechterman, executive vice president at GoDaddy.


"We had a great response on that, and the press we're getting around [the controversy] has been a good thing," she said.


More than 53,000 people viewed the online-only extended Window Washer ad on GoDaddy.com Jan. 1-18, and more than 10,000 downloaded it.


But site visitors don't just watch the commercials, they also check out the company's services, Rechterman said. And the ad refers potential customers directly to a shopping link on the site.


In the extended ad, a GoDaddy sales rep has trouble concentrating on his sales pitch with clients when a woman - wearing a tank top and shorts - washes windows outside his office building.


Viewers are urged to visit GoDaddy.com to obtain a Web site for $1.99 a month. Another message at the end of the ad offers a 5 percent discount on orders and urges visitors to click to "Start Shopping Now."


IFilm.com reported that 500,000 people have viewed the Window Washer ad on its Web site, and another 500,000 watched GoDaddy's 2005 Super Bowl ad over the past year.


Meanwhile, search advertising, e-mail marketing and banner ads will be important parts of GoDaddy's Super Bowl commercial this year, if it airs. Search firm Reprise Media, New York, ranked GoDaddy.com as one of the top Super Bowl advertisers last year because of its effective use of search advertising and integrating its online and offline campaign.


GoDaddy has purchased search terms around "Super Bowl," "Super Bowl ads" and "Candice Michelle," the model from last year's Super Bowl ad and the firm's spokeswoman. By the end of the month, GoDaddy will e-mail its customer database to remind them of the commercial. It's also running ads through affiliate marketing network Affiliate Junction and via Flash ads on several Web sites.


The firm also will work with several podcasters, who will podcast this year's ad, along with video interviews with Parsons. But Parsons aims to keep visitors coming to his site long after the Super Bowl ad airs.


"There are going to be some hilarious 'Internet only' commercials," he teased in a recent blog posting.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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