Monkeys Spots Get Viral (But in a Good Way!)

For some of the 90 million people who watched the Super Bowl, the game was essentially over when the losing Seahawks punted with six and a half minutes to go. Others considered the event wrapped on Sunday night, when the nacho crumbs were swept from under the sofa cushions, or Monday morning, when the office pool winnings were paid out.

But for some people, Super Sunday kept on going for hours and even days. That includes the folks who surfed over to the Web site of CareerBuilder.com on Monday because of the company’s two high-profile 30-second spots during the game featuring one hapless office drudge and a herd of rambunctious monkeys running amok in suits and power ties. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, the CareerBuilder site saw 852,000 visits on Sunday, 400,000 of them unique. Next day, the site had 1.45 million visits on Monday—a traffic increase of 71% in 24 hours, and the largest next-day volume bump experienced by any of this year’s Bowl marketers.

CareerBuilder had seen its Web site traffic jump like that once before—last year, after Super Bowl XXXIX, when post-game Monday visits went up 89%. So the job search site knew people were going to be looking for them on the Internet before the final whistle. They wanted to make themselves easy to find, and they wanted the Web site to be ready to entertain guests.

What they came up with, according to Richard Castellini, vice president for consumer marketing, was an integrated program of search engine marketing to drive traffic and interactivity to engage visitors once they reached the site.

As for search marketing around the Super Bowl ads, Castellini says CareerBuilder made use of its experience during the 2005 game and added as many as 500 terms relating either to the commercial or the game, Castellini says. The company went so far as to bid on the phrase “Quiet Riot” because one of the commercials shows the apes cutting up to that hair band’s anthem “C’mon Feel the Noize”. “I don’t know how frequently anyone searches on the band Quiet Riot, but if they did it near the Super Bowl, they saw our search ad.”

One cautionary note, though: It’s possible to end search campaigns too early. At press time, a search on Yahoo! for “Super Bowl monkey ad” and “monkey commercial” found CareerBuilder as a sponsored result. But searches on the same terms at Google produced no paid links to CareerBuilder—but each term showed a search ad for rival Monster.com.

CareerBuilder manages its search marketing in-house through out the year, so taking over the responsibility for search marketing a Super Bowl ad was not much of an added burden. “Because we spend so much time marketing online, we know the nuances of this game,” Castellini says. For example, CareerBuilder commonly front-loads paid-search advertising into the first two days of the week, because research has shown that searchers are most likely to be interested in the prospect of a better job on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In the days after the big game, visitors searching on keywords like “CareerBuilder monkey ad” could click through a paid-search ad to a special landing page and “Build Your Own Monk-E-Mail”. There they could—and still can, in fact– customize one of three different primates in office dress, record a message in their own voice or insert one already made, and send the little guy off to harass friends and colleagues via e-mail.

The microsite, powered by Oddcast, has had amazing takeup among visitors. By February 10, five days after the commercials aired, the site had more than a million user sessions and 630,000 unique visitors, and more than 2 million Monk-e-mails had been viewed and sent

“It’s been fantastically received,” Castellini says. “If it doesn’t turn out to be the number one viral campaign, ahead of the ‘Subservient Chicken’ from Burger King, it will be a close second.” The 2004 Burger King campaign he refers to was a Webcam purportedly focused on a guy in a chicken suit and garters who appeared to respond to typed commands from visitors. The site got 1 million hits the first day it was up and about 300 million hits before being taken down, thanks to recommendations among friends.

The Monk-e-mail campaign was created by the same Chicago-based agency, Cramer-Krasselt, that handled CareerBuilder’s Super Bowl TV spots, and ad industry observers rated it one of the most successful examples of advertisers moving their offline message smoothly and effectively onto the Internet. Reprise Media gave the company 6 out of a possible 7 points for a clear tie-in to its Super Bowl ad message in its sponsored listings and on the site, for a clear call-to-action on the site, and for doing search marketing on both Google and Yahoo! during the game.

And search optimization firm Blueliner gave the company a “great” rating for its integration of offline and online marketing, named CareerBuilder the best of the dot-coms marketing during the game, and gave the two commercials an 8 and a 9 out of 10 points.

“We’ve been absolutely ecstatic with the reaction on all measures—the user engagement level, the pass-on rates, the reuserships,” Castellini says. “We love the stickiness of it, and the frequency of visits that it creates.” The Monk-e-mails commonly get multiple viewings; according to Cramer-Krasselt, the typical one is viewed four or five times, as receivers show them to friends or look at them again. Forty percent of Monk-e-mail recipients then go to the site and send one of their own. And on average, visitors spend seven minutes on the CareerBuilder Web site choosing, creating and sending their own chimp message.

One thing CareerBuilder doesn’t get out of the Monk-e-mail gimmick is leads. That was a conscious decision by the company, which wanted to construct a site that did not filter out potential users. “CareerBuilder gets 22.5 million unique visitors a month, so we’re one of the largest sites on the Web,” Castellini says. “We were more interested in creating further engagement with us than in any registration model. We made a strategic decision not to force people to sign in to access the content. That would have lessened the impact of the program.”

CareerBuilder actually employs specific, customized landing pages with all its paid-search ads—a tall order, given the broad list of job titles, categories and geo locations that it commonly advertises against. But strategy dictates that visitors whose attention is grabbed by a relevant ad message don’t want to click through, only to find a complicated registration page standing between them and the page they want. “You want to bring them to content that is relevant and valuable as quickly as possible—you don’t want to make people jump through hoops and over barriers before you’ve actually engaged them,” Castellini says. “You’ve got to get them into your site deep as quickly as possible.”

With yet another Super Bowl behind them, CareerBuilder is now looking to use other mass-media events such as the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards both to amortize the cost of the Super Bowl creative and as springboards to leverage their monkey messages online yet again. “We know that those are big focal points for the American viewers, and that people are almost as engaged in the ad content as they are in the programs,” Castellini says. “We want to be at those parties too.”

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