Go Daddy Will Buy Super Bowl Ad

In a bold bid to raise its brand awareness beyond the web hosting community, Go Daddy will purchase a Super Bowl ad, a tactic once seen as a symbol of dot-com excess. Advertising time for the Feb. 6 NFL football championship game costs $2.4 million for a 30-second spot.

Go Daddy has experienced explosive growth in 2004, ending the year with 2.9 million web-facing hostnames, as measured by our Hosting Provider Switching Analysis. It also expanded aggressively into shared hosting and SSL certificates. But its leadership in the domain business hasn't given the Scottsdale, Ariz. provider the name recognition of Yahoo or Interland, two of its chief competitors in the small business hosting market.

"We have the best value proposition of any registrar ... We didn't understand why everybody doesn't do business with us," Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons told Clickz.com. "We commissioned some market research six months ago, took a hard look at people who aren't doing business with us, and concluded that they aren't aware of us. So what better way to enter (an awareness campaign) than to use the Super Bowl?"

At the peak of the Internet bubble in early 2000, Super Bowl ads were dominated by dot-coms that would soon be sold or shuttered, including Pets.com, OurBeginning.com, Kforce.com, netpliance, Computer.com and Epidemic Marketing. These failures were noted by the advertising weblog Brand Autopsy which warned Go Daddy to find a better use for its $2.4 million.

"You can learn a lot from their failures," wrote blogger John Moore. "You are being blinded by the marketing mirage of creating brand awareness that comes with the possibility of reaching 95 million viewers watching the Super Bowl … not to mention the publicity you hope to gain by being mentioned in the media as an advertiser."

To the surprise of the blog's readers, Parsons joined the conversation to explain his decision. "The earlier dot coms that busted after advertising on the SuperBowl were never viable to begin with," Parsons noted in comments on the site. "We've been profitable since Oct 2001 and expect sales in 2005 (without the Super Bowl) of close to $200 million."

Go Daddy has done nearly all of its marketing online, but may be feeling pressure from recent moves by Yahoo and Interland, who have begun offering domain names for lower prices. The Super Bowl spot for Go Daddy will kick off a broader marketing campaign that will include print and Tv ads.