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Fumble: Groupon's Super Bowl Spots Boost Traffic a Paltry 3%

Daily discount service Groupon spent millions of dollars on a couple controversial Super Bowl spots—before almost immediately apologizing for the commercials and pulling them from the airwaves.

But if CEO Andrew Mason's candid response—"We hate that we offended people, and we're sorry that we did it"—wasn't evidence enough that these ads were poorly executed, a new report from Nielsen leaves nothing to the imagination.

Nielsen measured whether the large viewership of the Super Bowl spots helped increase traffic to advertisers' websites. Those notoriously scandalous ads from Rocketed post-Super Bowl traffic 41% in terms of unique visits, the biggest lift for any sponsor. Volkswagen? The spots boosted traffic 27%. By 27% too. Even Mercedes-Benz managed to jack the strat by 9%—and the company isn't an exclusive or traditional web service.

So how did fare? During the week following the Super Bowl compared to the week prior, Groupon increased traffic by a paltry 3%—a negligible boost given how expensive a Super Bowl spot is and the hundred million-plus consumers who viewed it live.

Compare that to competitor LivingSocial, which managed to surge traffic 80% with just one popular discount on

Groupon did win one category however: Super Bowl advertiser buzz. Groupon’s ads, a spoof on celebrity charity endorsements, caused plenty of conversation, placing the rookie Super Bowl telecast advertiser as the No. 5 most buzzed about brand out of all Super Bowl advertisers," said Nielsen. "Among the pure-online players, Groupon took the top spot, capturing 10.5% of total Super Bowl marketing buzz the day after the game, three times the buzz of GoDaddy, which had the largest increase in web traffic."

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  • Scott Templeman

    Not to be a rational voice here but wouldn't raw numbers be a better benchmark. Which of these sites had the most traffic the week before the Superbowl? Does a 3% increase of millions exceed a 41% increase of hundreds? ::commence rabbling::

  • Rob Day

    Raw numbers are rarely a better stat for relative comparison. % is used intentionally to show the relative effectiveness of an ad.

    Furthermore, Godaddy and Groupon have similar unique visitors per month. Groupon passed godaddy in November and have about a 4million user lead since (14mil for groupon, 10 mil for godaddy). 3% increase on 14mil is 420,000 visitors. 41% increase on 10mil is 4,100,000. Godaddy definitely wins.

    Now on the flip you have who had 855,000 visitors and went up 27%. It's not a huge raw jump, but if the product is good that will help them blow up. This was done on ONE AD. They jumped to 1.3 mil after the ad. I'm sure they were thrilled.

    Overall, the Groupon ads are a monumental failure on many levels and regardless of the reason, as Debbie says... "Expensive lesson learned"

  • Rob Day

    I'm not surprised this failed. The ads not only offended some (my least concern typically) they were uninspiring and not actually funny. I've seen great ads that offended some (GMC Suicide Robot from Chiat/Day anyone?).

    I think this is more a case of a bunch of rookies either being led astray (shame on agency) or pushing too hard to tell an inside joke to the wrong audience (shame on Groupon).

    However, their competitor LivingSocial had some ads too. How did they do? Personally they were forgettable and boring - did they bump more than 3% traffic? How's their buzz? I bet they were more successful today in generating buzz with their $9 2 tickets on Fandango deal than they were with the super bowl. (owned 3 trending twitter topics throughout the day for the deal).

  • Debbie Self

    Consumers are tired of being offended by inappropriate content. Decency and integrity will never go out of style. Expensive lesson to learn.

  • Dennis Magnusson

    I quit GroupOn after those obnoxious Super Bowl ads. Not exactly the results they were looking for. Who review that crap?