In Depth

Web Firm Gets Revved Up by TV Commercials

Maybe it takes a company rooted in new media to really love the things that old media, like network television, can accomplish.

Web hosting and domain name company Go Daddy was the sponsor of ABC’s coverage of one of the grand old spectacles of sports, the Indianapolis 500, over the weekend.

Go Daddy is probably best known for the commercials it has been running during the Super Bowl, TV’s biggest day of the year. Go Daddy achieves added notoriety for its sponsorship of the football championship by rolling out risqué ads too “hot” to be shown on TV.

This tactic generates media attention in the form of stories about the networks turning down Go Daddy’s spots. It also generates traffic to Go Daddy’s Web sites, where the uncut, unsuitable for broadcast versions of the commercials are available for the curious to see.

For the Indianapolis 500, Go Daddy focused on one of its newer “Go Daddy Girls,” race car driver Danica Patrick, the only woman to hold the lead in the annual event.

The company designed a cliffhanger commercial that urged viewers to go online to see how the commercial, called “Speeding,” would turn out.

In the commercial, Ms. Patrick is pulled over on a deserted highway for exceeding the speed limit. When the female police officer recognizes who she’s stopped and what company she represents, the officer begins her own special audition to be a Go Daddy Girl. As the spot ends, Ms. Patrick promises a racier conclusion on the Web site.

And the gambit worked, as far as the Internet company is concerned. Ms. Patrick came in third place in the 500, the highest-ever finish for a woman. And Go Daddy’s Web traffic jumped 163% during the race compared to a year ago. Traffic was even higher following the race, with the site racking up a 570% increase in visitors.

“First and foremost, congratulations to Danica on her historic performance,” said Go Daddy founder and CEO Bob Parsons in a statement. “She made us all proud today on and off the track. It was amazing to watch the response to our new commercial ... visitors jumping online so quickly to see our Internet-only version.”

Driving TV viewers to the Web is paramount for Go Daddy, because that’s where it does its business and can fully explain its proposition and services to potential customers.

“Getting visitors to the site is what it’s all about—when people see what Go Daddy can do for them online, they become customers,” said Mr. Parsons. “Once they experience our 24/7 personalized customer service, they tell family and friends—who then become customers, as well.”

And if the ads are embarrassing, Ms. Patrick isn’t letting on.

“A lot of people tease me about the Go Daddy ads because they push the envelope,” the driver is quoted as saying in a statement from the company. “But GoDaddy-esque ads are fun to make, fun to watch … you just never know what’s going to happen.”

And Go Daddy says that in its survey of people who watched the online-only version of the commercial, 92% found its “hilarious, funny and clever.”