HotJobs Sees Super Bowl as Right Event at Right Time

The combination of the huge Super Bowl audience and the January timeframe are irresistible for HotJobs.

“For us, the story is really about seasonality,” said Marc Karasu, vice president of advertising at HotJobs. “If the Super Bowl were to fall in June, it might be a different discussion of whether or not we would participate. But because it falls in January, that is our key job season, not just for job seekers, but also for corporate companies that sign up for HotJobs.”

The Yahoo-owned job listings site will be one of two Internet-only advertisers on ABC-TV's Jan. 26 broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVII. Rival, the No. 1 jobs site, is the other such advertiser for the event, which will have an estimated 130 million viewers. It is the fifth straight year that HotJobs will take a Super Bowl ad.

From a job seeker's view, January is about renewal, new resolutions and fresh starts. People want to feel reinvigorated and improve their lives. One way to do so invariably is by doing something about their job situation.

“So right off the bat, on the job seeker's side, the Super Bowl falls at a time of year when you have an interested audience of people across a wide spectrum of careers and industries that are looking to actually change jobs or think about changing jobs,” Karasu said.

On the corporate side, companies are flush with new hiring budgets at the start of the year.

Still, it is tempting to question the logic of plunking considerable money on the Super Bowl in an environment that is shedding more jobs than it is creating. A typical 30-second spot in the past cost $2 million. HotJobs would not disclose its spend, but said it was a competitive rate.

“We have more jobs on HotJobs now than we've had in years past,” Karasu said. “Even though the economy is doing poorly, in the aggregate you could make a pretty lucid discussion around the fact that it's more important than ever to find the right candidate and right fit for your search.”

The 30-second spot from HotJobs will target people ages 25 to 39. This broad demographic is expected to cause a spike in traffic the Monday following the spot's airing and the week after.

The company already has been running tactical 15-second spots on cable channels like VH-1 and CNN. It supports with print ads and direct marketing like mail and e-mail.

“The other thing about the Super Bowl, besides just the mass audience, is that it really is the one program of the year that people watch as much for the commercials as the program itself,” Karasu said. “I mean, here you've got a program where people go to the bathroom during the games so they don't miss the commercials.”

But it also depends on creative. A bland spot can expect a tepid response. Brand Architecture International, an arm of Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide ad agency, will create the spot for the third straight year.

Karasu would not show his hand. But the call to action is clear: HotJobs is a place that will improve their lives whether users are seeking jobs or are check writers.

“It's an inspirational spot, and definitely we hope the spot resonates with people on an emotional level,” he said. “It's kind of sophisticated wink-and-smile, but it's not overt humor. We don't necessarily feel that, especially in this economy, that looking for a job should be taken lightly.”

The company is working to incorporate new technology for a January rollout that will leverage Yahoo's search capabilities.

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