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Numbers Reveal Harsh Reality of Ad Results

February 8th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Lord Kelvin, inventor of the Kelvin temperature scale, once said, “When you can measure something in numbers, then you know something about it.”

No where does his lesson have more meaning than in advertising.

A case in point: a recent column in DM News noted that the Sales Genie ad in the 2007 Superbowl was a success, generating 25,000 visits to the company’s Web site.

Well, assuming the company spent $1 million on the spot, that comes to $40 per visit.

That compares poorly to the cost per click of Google Adwords and other common methods of generating traffic.

When you apply metrics to the presidential campaign, the results are even more embarrassing for NYC’s former mayor.

According to an article in Newsweek, Rudy Giuliani spent $60 million on his failed run for the White House, collecting only a single delegate in the process.

That’s a marketing cost of $60 million per delegate — perhaps a record.


This entry was posted on Friday, February 8th, 2008 at 3:53 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

45 responses about “Numbers Reveal Harsh Reality of Ad Results”

  1. Hans said:

    Metrics aren’t everyting, but it’s pretty much all we’ve got as feedback for short-term management of campaigns. These examples show that they need to be interpreted with care, and that we need to look beyond them.

    Impact (behaviour change) beyond metrics can be measured by surveys, interviews, case studies or ultimately results.

    In complex campaigns, results are remote, grand and uncertain. They can only be indirectly related to individual marketing actions. Measurement at intermediate levels is needed, as is an element of faith.

  2. Robert Rosenthal said:

    No analysis of Super Bowl advertising results is complete without taking into account lifetime value — and the fact that any data is likely to be understated.

    Several years ago, after seeing a ad during the Big Game, I bought a single domain name from them. I quickly concluded that their service was better (and prices were way better) than the firm we were using.

    Today we maintain 42 domains for Mothers of Invention through I’ve also advised countless clients and prospects to buy through them. Last year, when my young daughter and her cousins started an art business, we used their Website construction tool to put up a site in one night.

    Notice that only a tiny fraction of our orders came from that initial purchase — and how a big chunk of their real return on Super Bowl advertising investment will not be measurable (including any business that results from this comment).

  3. Michael A. Stelzner said:


    I spend next to nothing to promote my blog and get more visits than that SuperBowl ad.

    What a waste!

    Considering how many millions were receiving the message, it seems that 25K is pretty small response rate.



  4. Judy Dunn said:

    Robert’s comment is very interesting. Don’t know which GoDaddy Super Bowl ad he was watching, but I read somewhere recently what a waste one SuperBowl commercial of GoDaddy’s was because it basically used an attractive blond model with a “wardrobe malfunction” to get viewers to visit their web site. The author’s premise was that all they did was get thousands of hits by young college age men who could care less about purchasing domain names, but just wanted to see more pics of the young woman.

    But Robert’s comment shows that: 1) real people who could (and did) use their services were watching, too and 2) the incremental value (multiple purchases over the years, referrals, etc.) often cannot be calculated. Darn near impossible to measure the value of the SB ad.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Judy: my post was about a Sales Genie commercial, not Go Daddy.

  6. Dianna Huff said:


    Did the DM News article take into the account the “buzz” around the SalesGenie ads — which by some accounts were deemed racist? The panda ad received tens of thousands of downloads on YouTube.

    How many people took advantage of SalesGenie’s offer?

    And, did they get 25,000 visits per ad or for the entire campaign? (They had multiple versions of the ad which ran during the course of the Super Bowl.)

    How many bloggers blogged about the ads, further increasing exposure?

  7. Bob Bly said:

    DH: The only thing the article in DM News said was that the 2007 Sales Genie Super Bowl commercial generated 25,000 visits. I assume they meant just from the one broadcast during the Super Bowl. It said nothing about buzz, blogging, conversions, or any other metric. Based on the 25,000 unique visits, and assuming $1 million to run the spot (I think it may have been considerably more), that’s $40 per click.

  8. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, SalesGenie ran two spots that I know of. So the cost is considerably more if you’re just going by clicks from the TV promotion.

  9. Dianna Huff said:

    PS — Here is a great article about the ad spots.

    He ran three ads this Super Bowl and one last year. Last year he had an ROI of $40 million. He hasn’t said what his ROI is this year.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    DH: This would indicate to me that the DM News writer did a poor job of research for her article, since this fact, obviously published and available online (I assume you did a Google search) was never mentioned.

  11. Brandon Watkins said:

    Hello! New reader; first time poster.

    This was an enormous mistake in targeting by SalesGenie. I have always felt that SuperBowl advertising was only sensible for brand marketing of broad-use consumer products. Budweiser, McDonald’s, or Gillette, for example. They could have spent much less to acquire 25000 visits to their site by targeting their ads at business owners and marketing departments. What’s more, those 25000 visits would likely have a significantly higher conversion rate. Frankly, this failure makes me suspicious of the quality of their mailing lists.

  12. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Bob Parsons said had two million visits on Super Bowl Sunday, from just one ad.

  13. Scott Wolf said:

    I have to think that it would be virtually impossible for Sales Genie to have made that ad buy pay off. I suggest that the huge ego boost from having a Super Bowl ad likely had more to do with the decision to spend that much money.

    Regarding the value of “buzz” and the question of being able to truly measure the value of a Super Bowl ad, of course you can. Certainly much of the value. There is surely “buzz” (like this thread), but that’s background noise. Any media buyer relying on buzz to justify the cost of the ad is on thin ice.

  14. Nishi Viswanathan said:

    I was one of the 25,000 people to visit Salesgenie after the Superbowl ad. Was pretty disappointed by what they had to offer. I work in the content development industry and they had absolutely nothing for me. Anyway, even if they had sent me a list of 100 people, I don’t think it would have helped much. I found the navigation on their website pretty user unfriendly too.

    Twenty five thousand people might have visited after they viewed the ad. But if less than ten percent actually signed up for a paid account (That is of course just my estimate), the cost is more than 400 dollars/click!!!

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