Coinbase's viral Super Bowl advertisement was a hit. For Coinbase, it was a hit to their servers.
The commercial was simply a QR code that bounced around the screen like the classic DVD logo in the 90s. It was a simple and ingenious marketing strategy, and the traffic that Coinbase received during the ad's 60-second run time temporarily crashed the company's servers.
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"Money (That's What I Want)" was originally written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. Barrett Strong was the first artist to record and release the track in 1959 before The Beatles and The Kingsmen each went on to record their own versions in 1963. In 1979, U.K. band The Flying Lizards released their rendition.
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After scanning the ad's QR code, fans were directed to a page with a promotion: "Coinbase. Less talk, more Bitcoin. Get $15 in free Bitcoin for signing up. Plus a chance to win $3 million in prizes. WAGM! [We’re All Gonna Make It]."
The marketing tactic led to "historic" volume, according to a statement by Kate Rouch, Coinbase's Chief Marketing Officer.
"Our engineering teams load-tested our site to handle millions of simultaneous hits," said Rouch said in a statement. "The volume we experience was astounding in comparison to our projections. We saw over 20M+ hits on our landing page in one minute—volume that was historic and unprecedented. We also saw engagement that was 6 times higher than our previous benchmarks. Understandably, this volume led to us temporarily throttling our systems. Hats off to our engineering team for getting the site back online so swiftly, and allowing us to welcome more people to the crypto economy."
According to USA Today's Ad Meter ranking, Coinbase's advertisement ranked dead last despite its popularity. But Rouch said that helped introduce cryptocurrency to many viewers.
"Our ad helps the millions of Americans who are curious about crypto get started—completely on us!" she said. "It is not about an outdated winner-takes-all model, but instead embraces the core ethos that 'we’re all going to make it' and can all benefit from the crypto economy."