Go Daddy Group hired a new agency last month and is about to launch new ads highlighting its leadership in the Internet domain and Web hosting businesses. The company grew with a unique and provocative series of ads featuring the Go Daddy girls, including race car driver Danica Patrick. Racier material was promised online to get TV viewers to check out the company's website-a tactic far more common today than when Go Daddy started doing it in 2005. The new ads-which contrast the women the company uses to lure users with the technicians it employs to keep customers-are set to air during the London Summer Olympics on NBC. Go Daddy senior executive VP and CMO Barb Rechterman tells B&C business editor Jon Lafayette about the evolution in the company's marketing and media strategies.
You recently hired a new ad agency, Deutsch, after doing your ads in-house. What was behind that decision?
The idea was to give us a fresh look, a fresh perspective on the campaign. After you build a campaign for seven-plus years, under a main theme, it just requires time and new creative ideas to come to us. So that was really behind the decision.
Will having new TV spots affect your media strategy?
We wanted to expand the media buying strategy to broaden the demographic range. So from that standpoint, the answer is yes. But the real key here on the media strategy is to tell the story about the inside of Go Daddy. The campaign is "Inside Out," and the focus is to help consumers start to understand what it is that we do on the insides of Go Daddy.
You were buying a lot of high-profile media like the Super Bowl and NASCAR, to reach men. Does that part of the strategy change?
On NASCAR and IndyCar, their demographics are changing quite drastically in terms of the female demos that are now watching that programming. So our point with this strategy is, we're not going to leave the places where we've been that have been successful for us. We measure pretty much everything, so we tend to keep the ones that are working for us and we begin to test into and move into alternate programming as we see fit. We'll test into them and we'll find out if they're working or not.
What programming are you looking at that you haven't been in before?
We've been testing quite a bit in comedy and some cable advertising and we're finding some successes there. I'd love to see us get more into the female demographic.
Was it because technology seemed to appeal to guys that originally had you move in that direction?
Well, the demos for the Super Bowl are not male demos. There's a huge mix. And NASCAR and IndyCar are beginning to skew more female. So that's encouraging to us. We've run a lot of sports programming, so there's no denying we looked for male demographics of 18-49. But we need to do more in the SMB [small and mid-sized business]. Right now, we have huge brand awareness. What we're hoping to do with these new ads is bring in what it is we do and how great our customer service is. And we believe that type of messaging is going to appeal to a broader audience. Do I think we'll be able to appeal stronger to women and the SMB market? That's the goal.
With the new campaign, do you expect to be spending more on TV or less on TV than you have in the past?
Well, we're launching with the Olympics, so that only comes around once every few years so that will be an incremental spend for us. And then as the media schedule rolls together we'll test in and find the spots where we're going to go.
Will you be doing the Super Bowl again this February, and if so, are the spots bought?
We are. The negotiation goes on. We're negotiating with CBS and we really won't know until this fall what we've secured, but we're hopeful we can do a deal.
Go Daddy was one of the first advertisers to use these high profile TV programs to encourage viewers to go online to watch web video. What made you decide to do that?
That started with our very first ad, on the Super Bowl. At the time, we couldn't quite figure out how we could tell everybody what it is we did in 30 seconds or less, because at that time in the 2005 Super Bowl, we had domain names, and we had hosting, and we had email and we had secure certificates and we had a website builder and we had a secondary market on domain names and we had a lot. And at the time we couldn't quite envision how this ad was going to play. We didn't know if we would have this ongoing campaign and series of ads. The Super Bowl in essence was a test for us at that time too, so we decided at that point that there was no way we could tell them all that we did, so instead we said what we can hope for out of this ad is that everybody's going to know our name. People are going to say Go Daddy and finally know the name Go Daddy and be curious enough to come to our website and figure it out. Well, then the conversation became, why don't we help them get to the website? At that generation, in 2005, there were going to be some that would go buy your product [based on a TV spot]. But the reality was it was better to tease and build exposure for the brand, and that's how it all started for us. They come to the website, they see the extended footage. Wrapped around the extended footage is our website and our offer, so you're able to see that we do have hosting and domains and secure certificates and that we're the largest in the world in all three of those.
How did it work?
That digital push to web strategy has paid off. Obviously our brand has grown tremendously. We did well over a billion dollars in sales last year. It's very much paid off into extending the concept of the brand.
Has the number of people moving to see the extended video grown over the years?
Oh yes. And it's not to say that every commercial that we air has that. They don't. But we have some key commercials that have that.
Was using attractive women and content billed as unrated a big part of getting people to click and look?
Oh yes. People want to say that they don't want to go look at that, right? But they do.
The new ads are supposed to be more conservative? Will it be harder to get people to click over?
I'm not quite sure where the word conservative came from. We certainly have never pitched the new series of ads as conservative. In fact, if you were to look at our news release I think the headline says we tapped Deutsch for a new era of Go Daddy-esque advertising. So I'm not quite sure where conservative came from. That said, they are more directed toward our technology and toward our services. They are stronger about what you might find on the inside of Go Daddy.
Has the target market changed as more people get comfortable with the kind of web technology you sell? At one point, was it mostly geeks and IT people, youngpeople who could create web sites? Now everyone does it. Don't you have to appeal to a broader audience now?
Yeah we do. As you know the Internet and website industry has grown tremendously. It's not just simply talking to the technologists, although we do need to talk to them. It is also talking to the SMBs of the world to make sure that they know that we're the place to buy your website and domain name and hosting.
Will the new ads also aim to get viewers to go to the website?
It's possible there will be a push to the web on these. We don't have them fully edited. So it's possible there will be push to the web on these. But the thing you've got to keep in mind with these spots, they next series of ads is an evolution in our advertising, not a revolution. So they're not 180 degrees different from where we were. But they are an evolution. They are the next step in our advertising. I think that evolution is probably the best way to say it.
Will Danica Patrick continue to be one of your spokespersons?
We definitely have Danica through this season and our brand and Danica have grown up together, right? So we have strong inclinations that we'll continue with her in the future. Yes.
Since Go Daddy is in the business of selling its knowledge of online technologies, is it important for the company to know and use the latest digital media and advertising opportunities?
Interestingly enough, I think if you look at one of our Super Bowl ads, we used a QR [quick response] code. So definitely we are down the path of digital media. It's hard not to be. We set an all-time sales record for our mobile site when we used that QR code.
Has anyone shown you anything new and cool recently?
People show us new and cool all the time. I tell you the way to look at the digital media space in my opinion is to be able to sort out the multitude and find the real applications. That tends to be, in my opinion, the better way of approaching it. I tell you we get contacted weekly with people who think they have the next best, brightest, great thing. And determining whether they do or not is really the game plan for us.
Do you work with a media-buying agency?
No. We buy most of our media in-house here.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette
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