Super Bowl Sunday and eCommerce: A big day for advertisers, but what about online sales?

January 30, 2015 Written by NetSphere Category: Uncategorized
Super Bowl Sunday and eCommerce: A big day for advertisers, but what about online sales?

Nearly 112 million people tuned in to the Super Bowl last year, representing one of the largest television audiences ever. It’s the most watched football game of the year, but as we know, many people are as equally excited for the commercials, which are some of the best you’ll see all year. However, does eCommerce see much action on Super Bowl Sunday?

A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that television viewership hurts online sales. The study, conducted over four years in Germany, measured the effects of television viewership on online sales related to a popular auction site similar to eBay. Researchers wanted to know if online activity and television viewership complimented each other or served more as a substitute. Their data suggest that it’s indeed a substitute as online sales slumped during high television viewership.

One of the takeaways from the study is that eCommerce companies looking to push online sales should be wary of relying on big sales on days when television viewership peaks – and the Super Bowl certainly qualifies as one of those days.

Viewers might not be engaged in eCommerce during the Super Bowl, but companies that invest in 30-second spots are reaching out to online users and seeing results after the game. pulled data for the 2013 Super Bowl and found that of the 42 advertisers who paid between $3.5 million and $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime, 40 percent included a URL, 48 percent included a hashtag, and 10 percent included their Facebook info at some point during their spot. The numbers were fairly consistent with the previous year’s data except for hashtags, which jumped up 41 percentage points. The numbers didn’t change much in 2014 Super Bowl commercials, except again with hashtags where the number rose to 57 percent.

For eCommerce companies that pay for a 30-second slot in the Super Bowl, the outcomes are both good and bad. For instance, GoDaddy’s ads have created controversy in the past and again this year (GoDaddy is pulling its planned puppy-themed commercial due to outrage from animal lovers and from PETA). However, following 2013’s Super Bowl ad, according to PointRoll, the company saw a 45 percent increase in hosting and dot-com domain sales increased by 40 percent. GoDaddy actually saw 10,000 new customers the Monday after the game.

Groupon jumped on the Super Bowl bandwagon back in 2011, a year in which the company reportedly spent $613 million on marketing. The ad met with some controversy due to its content, which played on the “save Tibet” movement and had viewers confused whether they should be offended or laughing. Groupon didn’t return to the airwaves again until 2014.

Retailer H&M is also no stranger to Super Bowl ads. The clothing company has 3,500 outlets in 55 countries, but it’s also an eCommerce contender. During last year’s Super Bowl, H&M brought the first ever web-shoppable television ad to the viewers. 

The Swedish-based company, which ranks in the top 100 e-retailers in Europe, is bringing back soccer great David Beckham to appear in another spot this year. While H&M executives say the ads have been a success, USA Today’s rating system put the popularity of the 2012 commercial at 49th out of 55 that aired that year.

Obviously, only a select few companies have the backing to pay for the admission price on Super Bowl Sunday commercial spots, yet there are tactics you can use to capitalize on Super Bowl fever. For instance, you could launch a Twitter campaign where your followers that mention you and hashtag their tweet with #superbowl can get free shipping or a percentage off their next online purchase.

At NetSphere Strategies, our eCommerce experts can assist clients with their Super Bowl Sunday campaigns or any campaign throughout the year, for that matter. We have experience helping business leaders map out their strategy for success and especially so when their digital assets are a focus. Because, when websites are engaging and robust, it can be a big win for business owners and consumers alike.

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.