E*Trade: The Right Stuff "Baby"?

Everyone’s favorite investor in diapers is back as the E*Trade Baby makes a new appearance promoting Mobile E*Trade Pro. By now I’m sure most of us have seen those popular E*TRADE Baby advertisements either on television or online. There are now three ads with the mobile variation joining the E*Trade Banking Baby and E*Trade Trading Baby. The previous versions have both gained over a million views on YouTube since the first release during this year’s Super Bowl.

While airing a Super Bowl advertisement likely increases awareness for each advertiser, there is the inevitable debate over whether Super Bowl ads really pay off in terms of actual revenue. In the case of E*Trade, the question is whether the company managed to attract new customers post-airing of the Baby ads.

We first looked into how E*Trade has performed in terms of site traffic to its home page since launching the Super Bowl ad. Although the advertisements received great reviews, the campaigns did not result in increased traffic to etrade.com. Below we see that in February and March of 2008, visitors to E*Trade actually decreased 10% compared to February 2008. What makes this decline even more interesting is the fact that in January traffic increased 4% over the previous month. The subsequent decline continued into April by a modest 3%.

While on the surface it may look as if the ad campaign was not effective for E*Trade, one has to look deeper to see the real story. The idea of quality over quantity comes into play here. While monthly site traffic to etrade.com decreased after the E*Trade Baby made his first appearance, the quality of the traffic increased greatly. Below is a measure of velocity at etrade.com using the Super Bowl (February 3, 2008) as the starting point. Velocity measures the attention (or time spent on a site) and how it changes compared to one point in time. For example, during the first few days after the Super Bowl, attention increased nearly 200% at etrade.com. This shows that even though fewer people were going to etrade.com, those that did visit were spending more time engaging with the site than people that visited prior to the big game.

In the modern era all too often we see trendy Super Bowl ads that might be a hit with the public, but do not generate results on the bottom line. If someone were to look just at the traffic for E*Trade they might think this is another example of such a flop. By looking at the bigger picture however, it is apparent that the campaign was successful when it came to getting people more engaged with the brand which is a win in my book. E*Trade certainly seems happy with the results since they are willing to invest more in having this wise cracking infant be their public face.

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