The internet was a major star in the Super Bowl commercials last night, with websites, social media links and digital campaigns taking up valuable seconds in the game’s ads. But more than a few companies threw away their chance to grow their fan base with these $3 million spots last night.

What’s more? One of the most popular Super Bowl ads wasn’t even new. Google’s “Parisian Love” ad has been on the web for over three months. What does that say about big TV buys? They still have plenty of value. But only when used in a smart way.

This year’s Super Bowl game brought in more viewers than ever, with over 106.5 million people tuning in. For brands trying to reach the most amount of eyeballs, getting a spot in Amerca’s most popular single sporting event makes a lot of sense.

There are few places that still offer the kind of unfragmented audience numbers that large (live) sporting events on television still manage. And while Pepsi may have skipped this year’s game, other major brands — like Coke, numerous car brands and Doritos (a Pepsi product) — were happy to be involved. 

But it says a lot that Google’s ad did not premiere during the game Sunday night. Google — a company famously known for not advertising itself — instead aired an ad that has been popular online. The company wanted to “to share it with a wider audience,” according to Wired:

“Considering that the estimated worldwide audience for Super Bowl XLIV was about one billion people that is an exponentially wider audience than the 1.2 million hits the video has online at this writing.”

And despite regurgitating existing creative for the game, Google’s was one of the most popular ads aired during the Super Bowl.
Aside from the digital brands lke Careerbuilder, Cars, E-Trade, GoDaddy, Monster and Teleflora taking part in the festivities, other companies were actively including digital in their Super Bowl strategy. Dockers pointed viewers to it’s free pants giveaway website, while Doritos set up a mini-site at Coke created a Live Positively Facebook app lets fans share virtual goods to raise money for The Boys & Girls Club of America, while Anheuser-Busch was actively tring to leverage Facebook in the lead up to the game, trying to get fans to vote
for the commercial they wanted to see on
But many brands are still keeping their television and online efforts siloed. Many viewers are more engaged with television advertising during the Super Bowl than any other time during the year. Instead of fast forwarding through the commercials, they watch the ads (I’m sure I wasn’t at the only party where people visibly quieted down when the commercials started). Many people have been going online throughout the day today to watch the ads again or for the first time.

According to comScore’s pre-game survey, two-thirds of respondents intended to log onto the
internet on Super Bowl Sunday. 19% said they intended to send email and/or instant
messages to friends or family about the Super Bowl and 14% said they would view video
clips of old Super Bowl ads. 13% said they planned to visit the web
sites of Super Bowl advertisers.

If 13% of consumers are planning to visit brand websites unprompted, there’s a lot that can be done with that energy. But not every advertiser connected what they do online with the expensive spot they purchased last night. And that’s too bad.

As Gary Vaynerchuk commented on Denny’s purchase:

“Great idea. They’re giving away from free breakfast grand slams….Why not send all those eyeballs to your Facebook fan page? Have a custom tab… to fill out name and data. You can print them out or send things to their phones… You’re just going to collect an enormous amount of fans. You can then leverage that data for the rest of the year. These ad agencies continue to not tell their clients how to extend the story from traditional platfroms onto the social web. These are not seperate things. They can work together.”

Image: Google