Look, we all make mistakes, especially on Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe you cut your thumb grating cheese for nachos and have to watch the game in the ER waiting room. Perhaps you bet the coin flip would be heads despite the fact that tails never fails. Or it could be that you decide to throw the ball at the one yard line with the game at stake despite having on the all-time rushers on your side. Hey, it happens. We’re human.
But hey, at least you never made your site impossible to find in Google after your Super Bowl commercial airs.
Let’s elaborate. You may have heard that Mr. Peanut was recently killed (RIP In Peace), which caused an explosion in media coverage, the highest amount of interest the fictional fancy legume has seen in over a decade and a half.
At the height of the zeitgeist, Planters had a commercial spot during the Super Bowl, a game that was watched by over 102 million viewers. In the ad, Mr. Peanut’s funeral is attended by his close actor friends, along with the Kool-Aid Man and Mr. Clean, because brand synergy is a dystopian hellscape. A magic tear from the grieving Kool-Aid Man brings Mr. Peanut back to life in the form of Baby Nut, a highly marketable infant that’s like Baby Yoda but objectively worse.
Now, let’s overlook the fact that Kool-Aid is being promoted as a death cure and talk about the campaign overall.
The spot came from VaynerMedia, a social-media focused digital agency from the mind of Gary Vaynerchuk, a entrepreneur, social media force of nature, self-proclaimed digital marketing paragon. Right after the spot aired, the marketing machine went into hyperdrive, with brands cross-tweeting one another and livestreams of Baby Nut happening that very minute. One of the larger initiatives was ShopBabyNut.com, a site where you can buy merchandise featuring everyone’s favorite child goober. With the current obsession with other similar personas like Baby Groot and Baby Yoda, there’s no doubt that site would go on to do gangbusters.
That is if the site would appear within Google searches… which it wasn’t.
Let’s talk technical SEO. There’s something called a canonical, a way of telling search engines what variation of a page is considered the master version, the one you want to have rank within search engines. ShopBabyNut.com was canonicalized to an incorrect URL, but you know what? That’s ok! In fact, it’s what they needed to do. You don’t want your site to be found in search engines (also called “indexable”) before the site is fully built or before the launch of a campaign. In order to make sure that didn’t happen, the site was canonicalized to a page that couldn’t be indexed, keeping it away from prying eyes while it was still a work in progress.
What happened at the time of launch, however, is that this canonical wasn’t changed to its proper URL. This means the site was not indexable, and could not be found within a Google search. It’s akin to going to a viewing for a house you’d like to buy, and the door is locked. Actually, it’s more like you go to the address and the house isn’t even there.
How much did that hurt? Let’s do some very… very loose estimations.
“Baby Nut” as a search term peaked with 1 million searches during Sunday night as a conservative assessment taken from relative interest. First position in results gets about 26% of clicks, so using that math, we’d get a potential 260,000 users on the site. Google also tells us the best practice conversion rate on a site is about 1%, the amount of people who purchase a product on a site. However, with the increased attention the Super Bowl brought in, not everyone was going to end up buying a product, so let’s go with a safe conversion rate of 0.5%. The average cost of products on the ShopBabyNut.com homepage is $26.72, but for simplicities sake, let’s call it $25. Assuming all of these numbers to be correct (and again, they are very much not), the site not being found in search for one night resulted in a potential loss of $32,500, and that’s without factoring in the cost of the spot itself and any web development cost.
Again, we all make mistakes. That guy in the ER from a cheese related accident? That was me. Anyone who has worked in digital marketing long enough has seen this exact same thing happen numerous times before. In fact, in credit to VaynerMedia, changes are already being made to remedy this. But while content may still be touted as king, it means nothing if your technical SEO isn’t in place. Got a big site launch coming up? A new campaign going to bring in a lot of attention? Contact SocialSEO to ensure your technical SEO is in place and ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table.