Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
What time is the Super Bowl?
Memory lane, AI, and the NFL. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
The year was 2011, and an enterprising, attention-paying guy who worked in digital media had a really good idea.
In the days and hours before the Super Bowl every year, he noticed, thousands and even millions of people took to Google with a simple question:
"What time is the Super Bowl?"
It makes sense, right? The Super Bowl isn't just a sporting event, it's a national event —our biggest, most American, everyone-pay-attention, unofficial, secular holiday.
People who could not care less about the NFL, watch it for the commercials and the excitement, and just to see what everyone else will be talking about.
And they need to know what time it's on. So, why not tell them?
Craig Kanalley, senior editor for traffic and trends at The Huffington Post back then, jumped on it, capitalizing on all that search engine traffic by writing what we know think of as the first article headlined:
"What Time Does the Super Bowl Start?"
As The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer put it:
He was one of many online writers that year furiously playing the search engine optimization (SEO) game, trying to answer the questions that people were googling about, and, in doing so, getting articles to the top of Google’s major result pages.
Hit the Google Jackpot—land a top placement on a result page—and users flooded your page, so many users they sloshed into the rest of the site.
Kanalley included misspellings and variations of the phrase (like "what time is the super bowl 2011," "superbowl time" and "superbowl kickoff time 2011") within the first few sentences, in order to take further advantage of lesser trending terms.
"It was a different world back then," Kanalley explained to Meyer. "I almost think it was a trend in itself, of covering trends."
Anyway, it worked: massive traffic. Other digital media brands hopped on it, too: The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Gawker (RIP), and even NFL.com itself (which makes sense).
Critics called it “the most legendary act of SEO trolling ever,” gathering zillions of page views for HuffPost and ultimately typifying the kind of content that led HuffPost to be acquired by AOL, then subsumed into Verizon, then spun off as part of BuzzFeed.
Dare to dream, I guess.
And then, suddenly it stopped.
Or at least, people in media who write about other people in media seemed to think it stopped. They put the date at around 2014, as the zeitgeist (and business model) in digital media turned largely toward social media.
It's an opportune time to notice this, because I'm hearing that 2023 will mark another shift, the death of the search engine.
Supposedly, ChatGPT, and the new arrangement with Microsoft, and Google Bard (although Bard had a fact error in a demo this week, followed a $100 billion drop in Google's parent company's market capitalization) will make all of these search trends obsolete.
For the record:
This year's Super Bowl ("LVII") starts at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday evening at State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona.
The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
The game will be broadcast in the United States on Fox, along with some live-streaming options. One lingering question is whether President Biden will sit for the traditional halftime interview with the broadcast network.
The weather in Glendale is projected to be 65 Fahrenheit and sunny, so reports are the stadium's retractable roof will almost certainly be open.
Grammy winning country singer Chris Stapleton sings the National Anthem; Rihanna headlines the halftime show.
Since we're now living in the future, let's ask ChatGPT the same question all those millions of people used to ask Google. This is what comes up:
Anyone see the error? (I promise; I really did just do the query; no funny business in order to get the partially wrong answer.)
I don't want to admit I'm getting old, but I kind of miss when we could just look it up in TV Guide.
Pitchers and catchers report this week.
7 other things worth knowing today
Anger is growing in Turkey as the earthquake death toll passes 20,000 and rescue hopes dwindle. Thousands spent the night in the debris-encrusted streets of Adiyaman with little shelter and huddled around small fires. (NBC News)
Speaking of Yahoo: Yahoo plans to lay off more than 20% of its total workforce as part of a major restructuring of its ad tech unit, executives told Axios. The cuts will impact more than 50% of Yahoo's ad tech employees — more than 1,600 people. The changes will end Yahoo’s years-long effort to compete directly with Google and Meta for digital advertising dominance. (Axios)
Is it safe to visit Mexico for Spring Break? The U.S. State Department issued its strongest possible 'do not travel' warning due to threats of 'crime and kidnapping,' as a former US Marshall claims cartels are infiltrating once-safe resorts. (Daily Mail)
Burt Bacharach, the singularly gifted and popular composer who delighted millions with the quirky arrangements and unforgettable melodies of “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and dozens of other hits, has died at 94. The Grammy, Oscar and Tony-winning Bacharach died Wednesday at home in Los Angeles of natural causes. (AP)
Californians are pouring into Nevada. Not everyone in Nevada is happy about it. (LA Times)
Companies are increasingly dropping four-year college degree requirements for their jobs and putting more emphasis on experience. A third of those who dropped degree requirements did so for senior-level roles, a recent survey found. (WTOP)
The Taliban may have won the war in Afghanistan, but the jihadists who once spent their days riding horses in the countryside are now stuck behind desks, lamenting their boring computer jobs, spending all their time on Twitter, high rent, and commutes to work. A series of interviews with five former mujahideen shed light on the inner lives of the men who spent a lifetime fighting an empire only to win and have to run a country. (Vice)
Thanks for reading. Photo: Fair use. I wrote about some of this before on Inc.com. Have a great weekend, and see you in the comments.