January 26, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Bloggers tackle the Super Bowl

Everyone knows Super Bowl ads get the most buzz. Now Madison Avenue is turning to bloggers to learn what all the buzz is about.

Internet research companies plan to measure the "watercooler effect" of Super Bowl XXXIX ads by capturing sentiments as they bubble up within the loose collection of diarylike personal Web sites collectively known as the "blogosphere."

Cincinnati-based Intelliseek, for one, plans to monitor positive and negative commentary about commercials in more than 3.5 million blogs, charging advertisers upward of $20,000 for its intelligence. That's about 1 percent of the $2.4 million price tag for a 30-second spot during the game this year, up from $2.3 million last year.

Such research could eventually offer real-time assessment and feedback on the reception and success of ad campaigns, industry experts said, and extend the influence of an upstart medium that has already placed its mark on mainstream news publishers and broadcasters.

"Blogs are a real-world temperature gauge as to what's really going on out there," said Tim Hanlon, senior vice president at advertising-media company Starcom IP. "You've got big media at one end and the citizen's media at the other, and the collision between those diametrically opposed approaches to messaging will be very intriguing."

"Blogs are a real-world temperature gauge as to what's really going on out there."
--Tim Hanlon, senior vice president, Starcom IP

The Super Bowl is not only the celebratory end to the football season, but it's also the congratulatory salute to ad creativity in the form of high-priced and oft-outsized commercials. People commonly skip bathroom breaks in favor of couch time with the commercials, just to chat about them in the office on Monday. With the dawn of the Internet, stand-out ads, such as Reebok's "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker," have enjoyed unparalleled postgame audiences online, too.

This year, bloggers could upstage the advertisers, with an expected outpouring of commentary from millions of self-styled media critics. Although it's still unclear what impact this immediate feedback will have on the reception of ad spots, advertisers are closely watching the phenomenon.

"Big media can be held in check by media from the streets, i.e., blogs, and simultaneously this grassroots type of media can also be the source of new popular content," Hanlon said.

Buying a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl spot is often a vanity play by deep-pocketed advertisers that are attempting to make the biggest impression possible among the largest television audience of the year. Last year, an all-time high of 144 million Americans watched the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen Media Research. The roster of advertisers typically includes PepsiCo, Ford Motors, FedEx, Frito-Lay, McDonald's and Visa. But during the dot-com heyday, when they nicknamed the playoffs the

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