Comments made by Dr. Griffith after the Super Bowl, 2004
I've been watching the media for a comment on this and I haven't seen one, so I am asking you, whomever you may be.
Maybe it isn't just a question that needs an answer. Maybe its a rhetorical question.
True, I'm a psychologist (Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and I help people solve problems every day. I even consult about domain names and reserve many for future use of advertisers. So I think about these things. But it all seems so obvious to me that I feel like merely the first to say, "The Emperor is wearing no clothes."
On Wednesday the WSJ quoted Robin Kent on advertising NOW: "You have to start with whom are we trying to reach, where are we going to find them, and what is the message that fits." A lot of the "whom we are trying to reach" and the "where are we going to find them" pertains to the Internet.
Someone dropped the ball at the SuperBowl. The SuperBowl that is the commercials of the SuperBowl. Some held it a bit, but actually everyone dropped the ball. The Internet ball.
For goodness sake, where was the Internet? The Internet that has touched our lives in so many incredibly positive ways. Are advertisers truly unaware of how many people spend A LOT of time on the Internet? Or are advertisers simply unawarre of how to use the Internet?
There was clearly an expectation by the news media that Super Bowl viewers would go online to vote for their favorite commercials. And people, lots of them, apparently, went online to bet on the game. Others visited websites of advertisers before the game even started.
But the Internet was not a major player in the Commercial Super Bowl at all.
Certainly there were commercials for companies who provide Internet-related services exclusively on the Internet, like AOL. Even these companies, as I recall it (and I am one of the advertised-to public) without the dot-com for some reason, or am I wrong and was that the movie MONSTER that was advertised? Surely I was not to confuse the two?
And, otherwise, the Internet addresses of advertisers, when given at all, were written much as one might add a telephone number to an information page, in relatively small type on the television screen (not all of us have ultra-large television screens.). There was the implication that someone who wanted to contact the company might do so at the website. Period.
No domain name/URL was spoken aloud, as I recall it. Except ShardsOGlass.com, the public service advertisement and more on that later.. A name spoken aloud is more likely to be remembered than is a name written. Large or small.. Much more likely, isn't it? Can't advertisers test out that hypothesis with their own staff?
And ads for the SuperBowl need to bear in mind that the parties of extroverts are in full swing during the commercials, aren't they? Introverts are going to the bathroom, probably with the door open, as they are likely to be alone, but they are listening for the commercials too. Who reads at a time like that? Scream out the Internet address, Mr. Voice-Over!
Is the Internet just a telphone directory and Yellow Pages? No, I think not, The internet is something else, something that can increase the power of advertising. A visit to a website is a visit to a place. A place where things can happen. Things that will increase sales.
Aren't increased sales the reason for advertising?
Advertisers need to send potential customers to the Internet for a reason, don't they?. And that reason should not be merely to see an Internet "building" or even an Internet "brochure".Brochures are fine -people like to find information online. But they don't read it all. They scan it for information they want and then, what?
Lots of things can happen at websites: my people discussed the potential use of a specific domain name, LiquidBandage.com, in 2002, that I don't mind sharing as it was an hypothetical problem-solving meeting, not one commissioned by anyone.
Once a potential customer gets to a webstie, there should be something to further "hook" the buyer, shouldn't there? A coupon, perhaps? Free merchandise?
People with the "spirits" of the game will order things, won't they? "Hey guys, lets go online and order tee shirts that say...", well, any college student can think of a slogan. "I watched the SuperBowl with ..." is an obvious one. Businesses like CafePress.com make such products to order, charging the customer enough to give the business a profit, if it wants one.
And maybe, just maybe, a website can be a place to record a million email addresses, even a milliion snail mail addresses? Visitors will leave such information if asked in the right way, won't they?
Viewers of a commercial need to know why they are told the website of an advertiser. Does that take so much time or so many words? I think not, even a hurried voice-over: "Coupon at FordCoupon.com" would attract the curious.
And the website NEEDS TO BE MEMORABLE, doesn't it? Memorable enough to stay in a potential customer's head. For later. Most of us watch the SuperBowl with an Internet-connected computer on our laps, do we? But we DO go online later. And every day after.
Yes, the name needs to be remembered, doesn't it? What was the name of that new drug for men that was advertised? I certainly can't remember it well enough to spell its name on my browser. Try ImpotenceDrugs.com, a very generic name, but one that would get us to salute when sent up the flagpole (sorry.) In the other big arena, soft drinks, BetterThanCoke.com would be remembered.
And for fun and even greater memorability are web names that are funny and refer to a product as well, like, well, one of mine, Broadzilla! Broadzilla.com would be remembered by almost all viewer who HEARD it on televison.. Even if only mentioned once, in a very small commercial. Such names are valuable, very valuable, and should be used in advertising for a company or product yes, in television advertising.
Did the websites of SuperBowl advertisers get Internet "traffic", that is, did viewers visit them? I don't know. I haven't been hearing much about that, AFTER the SuperBowl.
And what did those visitors DO? Those potential customers who bothered to go by their online address.
It is no longer enough to be the splashiest commercial in the Super Bowl. It is also no longer enough to be the flashiest website online. Sales is what it is all about.
Many Internet users, especially those with a mission,who are not just driving by an Internet building to see how it looks, will SKIP the "flash" component of a website, the showy part. Showing off the artsy quality of a website is no better than having showy, artsy commercials unless sales are increased. Right? Do we know what worked?
A visitor who is already at an advertiser's website is a valuable thing, a very valuable thing. Give him what will make him buy your product -- not what will make him want to hire your website builder.
I mentioned ShardsOGlass.com. That is a right thing, though kids won't visit there more than once, as it stands now (unless changes have recently been made to the website.).
The site needs more excitement, doesn't it? So kids will send other kids. Who will send other kids.
And its a hard name to type correctly. Or even say correctly. Kids have never heard of "shards", of anything, have they? And why aren't all versions of the name (erg. ChardsOF Glass.com) also leading to the same site. No one wants the bad guys putting competing sites or pornography at sites with similar names, do they? And a kid who can't spell or type correctly and gets nowhere will go away.
Who buys Internet domain names for websites? Are people who buy domain names for MAJOR projects legal types? Or computer types? Are they not the people who realize the power of Internet names and who know the use of the website? Are they not the people who know how the very domain name itself influences the use of the name? Yes, whether it is used AT ALL?
Enough. We are all tired of repeating the numbers, how more people watch the Super Bowl than watch anything else, how more women watch the Super Bowl than watch even the Academy Awards, how the young men who don't watch television do watch the Super Bowl. Jut about everybody in America knows that women and young men buy things, a lot of things.
And just about everybody knows that women and young men use the Internet, to buy and to play games. Recent stats tell us that women play Internet games much more than we thought, in fact. Lots and lots more people are turning to the Internet to work on their taxes.
Does no one realize that the SuperBowl attracts people who do not receive many other ad messages? Extroverts attend sports events. Extroverts AND Introverts watch th SuperBowl. Introverts use the Internet rather than go shopping. All would visit websites targeted to their interests.
These people could be taking breaks and visiting the sites they remember from SuperBowl ads. Sites that would make them buy more. Sites that would begin or increase their brand loyalty. Are they?
I doubt it.
Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D.