Okay, I'm a psychologist (Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and I help people solve problems every day, so I am often thinking of how to use all available resources to get wanted results. I even consult about Internet domain names and reserve many for future use of advertisers. So I think about these things.
But what I am asking about seems seems so obvious to me that I feel like merely the first to say, "The Emperor is wearing no clothes."
The Wall Street Journal recently quoted Robin Kent on how to advertise effectively these days: "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. Probably the "what is the message that fits", too.
Here is what I am asking: Didn't someone drop the ball in designing the commercials of the SuperBowl?
For goodness sake, where was the Internet? The Internet that has touched our lives in so many incredibly positive ways. Are SuperBowl advertisers truly unaware of how many people spend A LOT of time on the Internet? Or are advertisers simply unaware 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 outcome of the football game. And expectant viewers 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 and Monster, without the dot-com for some reason (or am I wrong and was that only the movie MONSTER that was advertised? Surely I was not to confuse the two?) These companies take it for granted that viewers know they are online businesses, right?
Well, EVERY business is also an online business.
However, 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. Now, who contacts the companies whose products they buy?
No domain name was spoken aloud, as I recall it. Except maybe ShardsOGlass.com, the public service advertisement -- and more on that project later.
A name spoken aloud is more likely to be remembered than is a name written. Written small or written large. Much more likely, isn't it? Can't advertisers test out that hypothesis with their own staff? And even given that there are visual people and there are auditory people, use of more than one sense to convey information helps more people remember things better, doesn't it?
Ads for the SuperBowl need to bear in mind that the parties of extroverts are in full swing during the commercials, aren't they? Talking people nowadays do hear the television, although they are not looking at it. Introverts are going to the bathroom, probably with the door open, as they are likely to be alone on SuperBowl Sunday, but those introverts are listening to the commercials too. Who reads at a time like that?
Scream out the Internet address, Mr. Voice-Over!
Then, next, is the Internet just a telphone directory, another 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.
And aren't increased sales the reason, the only reason, for advertising?
Advertisers, yes television 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 the whole online "brochure" -- they scan it for information they want and then, what's left to DO?
Once a potential customer gets to a website, there should be something to further "hook" the buyer, shouldn't there? A coupon, perhaps? Free merchandise? A game with the product's name all over the characters?
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 imprinted products to order, charging the customer enough for the product 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 million snail mail addresses? Visitors will leave such information if asked in the right way, won't they?
Now, viewers of a commercial need to be told the name of the website as well as why they are to go there. That's how you get to a website, you simply type in its name. Duke Power here in North Carolina does a wonderful job telling its customers to call 1-800-PowerOn when the lights go out. Everyone tells everyone else. Everyone calls. Mission accomplished. With a telephone number/name that is positive in connotation.
Why don't more advertisers look for that same sort of achievement with their web names?
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 would be remembered.
The NAME of the website NEEDS TO BE MEMORABLE, doesn't it? Memorable enough to stay in a potential customer's head. For later. Most of us don't watch the SuperBowl with an Internet- connected computer on our laps, do we? But we DO go online later. And every day after.
So the name of the website needs to be remembered. 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. Now if they had said "check out in privacy ImpotenceDrugs.com", I might do that -- later. In the other big arena, soft drinks, BetterThanCoke.com would be remembered.
And for even greater memorability are web names that are funny and refer to a product as well, like, well, one of mine that awaits a new owner, Broadzilla! Broadzilla.com, for a wonderfully gigantic new broadband service, would be remembered by almost all viewer who HEARD it on televison. Even if only mentioned once, in a very small commercial.
Did the websites of SuperBowl advertisers get Internet "traffic", that is, did viewers visit them? I don't know. I haven't been hearing about that, AFTER the SuperBowl. Why not?
And what did those visitors DO?
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. They don't even look at it. Showing off the artsy quality of a website is no better than having showy, artsy commercials, is it? UNLESS SALES ARE INCREASED.
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 project seems to be a good thing, though kids won't visit the site more than once, as it stands now. 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 domain name (misspellings and variants), for example, ChardsOF Glass.com used to point to the same site. No one wants the bad guys putting competing sites or pornography at sites with similar names, do they? And many a kid who can't spell or type correctly and gets nowhere will give up and not visit at all.
Who registers Internet domain names for websites? Are people who buy domain names for MAJOR projects legal types? Or computer types? Registering a domain name is a legal process or a website master's area, perhaps it is thought? Who wants to leave such a major factor of advertising and marketing and branding to people with those very separate areas of expertise?
Shouldn't the registration of domain names be led by the people who realize the power of Internet names and who know the use of the website? And who know the product? And who know who the likely buyers are? And who make decisions about ADVERTISING? Are they not the people who know how the very domain name itself influences the use of the name?
There are only 26 letters in the English language. How many combinations of those letters make words that will work for an advertiser? Why don't advertising agencies themselves register domain names they think might be of future use to their clients?
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. A recent poll told us that women in fact play Internet games much more than we thought previously. Lots and lots more people are turning to the Internet to work on their taxes during these months after the SuperBowl. Millions use email daily.
And the SuperBowl attracts people who do not receive many other ad messages. For example, extroverts attend live sports events. Extroverts AND Introverts watch the SuperBowl. Introverts use the Internet rather than go shopping at brick and mortar stores at malls.
All would visit websites targeted to their interests.
These people could be taking breaks from other online activities to visit the websites they remember from SuperBowl ads. Sites that would make them buy more. Sites that would begin or increase their brand loyalty.
Are they doing that?
Susan D. Griffith, Ph.D.
Domain Name Consultant