A $5 Million Dollar Fumble? Here’s What Happens When Top Super Bowl Advertisers Can’t Answer Questions Via Their Own Website Search.

Super Bowl

The average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad this year is a whopping $5.5 million. That means brands from Toyota to TurboTax will shell out nearly $200K per second to drive awareness during the big game.

That’s a hefty chunk of change at any time, but in 2021 the stakes have never been higher: Following a year defined by pandemic closures and looming recession, businesses — from the biggest brands down to the smallest mom-and-pops — are looking to do more with less. Super Bowl ads can make a big splash, but these brands certainly aren’t just banking on only driving water cooler discussion – they’re banking on getting your business. And if they’re lucky it starts with a visit to their website upon seeing their multi-million dollar creative tour de force. But the question is: will their websites be ready? 

In just a short amount of time we’ve gone from a world where a brand’s website was its “digital front door” to one where it could be the only door. Right now, customers are far less likely to race out to a store (which may very well be closed), and much more likely to seek out information and make transactions online. But what happens once they get to the brand’s website? Right now, likely a lot of bouncing away.

For the second year in a row, we did some research and discovered that, once again, 10 major brands spending millions on ads during the Super Bowl couldn’t directly answer one of the top — and often most basic — questions about their brand with their own website search. And when that happens, it means the customer is likely to bounce away to a search engine like Google, where that brand’s competitors are ready and waiting to recover the fumble. 

So what were the biggest basic search query fumbles in 2021? Here are the results:

1. Anheurser-Busch: Fumble

Question: Is Bud Light low alcohol?

Their answer: Random answer 

2. Doordash: Fumble

Question: How much do Doordash drivers get paid?

Their answer: No answer

3. Fiverr: Fumble 

Question: How do you make money on Fiverr?

Their answer: No answer

4. Frito-Lay: Fumble

Question: Can you buy direct from Frito-Lay?

Their answer: No answer

5. Pringles: Fumble

Question: Are Pringles real potato chips? 

Their answer: No answer

6. Scotts Miracle-Gro: Fumble

Question: Is Miracle-Gro good for all types of plants? 

Their answer: Random answer

7. TurboTax: Fumble

Question: How much does it cost to use Turbo Tax? 

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality

8. Toyota: Fumble

Question: Does Toyota have zero-percent financing? 

Their answer: Random answer

9. Vroom: Fumble 

Question: Where are Vroom vehicles located? 

Their answer: Random answer

10. WeatherTech: Fumble

Question: Can I buy WeatherTech in a store?

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality 

So why does this matter?

First, search is critical to driving millions of valuable transactions a day — and that’s why the biggest brands like Amazon have invested heavily in modern, AI search technology. (Think about it: When was the last time you used a drop down menu to order something from the online retail giant?) 

Yet as we can see here, too many top brands are living the search dark ages, using outdated keyword search — but not very effectively. That’s a big problem, as search engines like Google and websites like Amazon have trained people to expect a seamless search experience by understanding how they ask questions and delivering specific results. So if a business can’t answer a simple question on their own site, it could be quite costly — especially when it’s the most popular question (think of all that business potentially lost!).  

In fact, research suggests that consumers who use site search are actually some of the most valuable customers. Data shows that the 15% who use site search account for 45% of e-commerce revenue, and site search is 1.8x more effective at producing conversionsOn the flip side, research suggests that most users will abandon a website if they can’t find what they’re looking for within 15 seconds

So by investing in a modern search experience a brand can keep their home field advantage and win big with their customers every day — not just on Super Bowl Sunday. 

*Methodology: We ran brand name searches and measured the results of the “People Also Ask” search results feature within Google, which is used to surface a fixed set of popular related questions to a given query in order to help guide consumers. We selected one of these most popular questions related to each brand and used it to search on that brand’s own website. If the search returned a direct answer, the result was a “touchdown.” If the search returned an unrelated answer — or if it returned no result at all — it was a “fumble.” They had the customer’s attention, but lost it.

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