YouTube drives the ball home

Updated: Feb 26 2008, 07:33am hrs
Some religions believe in an afterlife. Others do not. On Madison Avenue after the Super Bowl, almost everyone is a believer. That is because the Internet, digital video recorders, mobile devices and other technologies are giving a strong postgame presence to the commercials that appear each year during the Super Bowl. The spots can be watched later on websites, forwarded through email, discussed on message boards and assessed on blogs.

It is a far cry from just a few years ago, when the Super Bowl commercials disappeared after the game. Now the strategy among sponsors is to maximise postgame exposure to help amortise the eye-popping cost of a Super Sunday spotthis time, an estimated $2.7 million for each 30 seconds of air time.

For instance, the commercials got a higher audience than the game in homes with the TiVo video recorder service, said Todd Juenger, vice-president and general manager for audience research and measurement at the New York office of TiVo.

There is rewinding and multiple viewing of the ads on Super Bowl Sunday, he said. Its one of the few times it happens. Super Bowl XLII, broadcast by Fox, was no exception, Juenger said. TiVos list of most-watched spots was topped by one of two for E-Trade featuring a talking baby; in this spot, the infant spits up at the end of his spiel.

Among others, the e-Trade commercial, created by the Grey Global division of the WPP, was followed on the TiVo list by one featuring Justin Timberlake, for a music promotion co-sponsored by Pepsi and Amazon. Scores of websites meanwhile are offering computer users a chance to watch video clips of the Super Bowl commercials, among them AOL, MSNBC, MySpace, Spike and YouTube. Even specialty websites are getting into the act. The Huffington Post, at huffingtonpost.com, known for politics, is wooing visitors to a section that offers a look at the best 2008 Super Bowl ads.

On some websites, visitors could vote for their favourite spots. Visitors to YouTube are even being offered an incentive to vote for their favourite spot at a special section of the site (youtube.com/adblitz): The commercial attracting the most votes will later be featured on the YouTube home page.

NY Times / Stuart Elliott