In the latest sign of hard times for online companies, the number of dotcoms buying advertising time during the Super Bowl has plummeted from seventeen last year to three, the same figure as in 1999.

Among nearly forty companies paying $2.3–$2.4 million per 30-second slot on CBS on January 28, only, and the E*Trade Group will represent the online world.

Although 10% of advertising space during the Super Bowl is still up for sale, it is not expected that any other dotcoms will join the trio.

In contrast, many traditional advertisers which sat out last year’s Super Bowl ads rush have returned to fill the dotcom vacuum. “Last year, it was the Amateur Bowl,” gloated Larry Flanagan, chief marketing officer at MasterCard International (which skipped last year). “This year, it's the Pro Bowl again.”

Among the bricks-and-mortar businesses booking Super Bowl space are seven BBDO New York clients: Federal Express, Cingular Wireless, Frito-Lay, Pepsi Cola, Pizza Hut, Visa and M&M/Mars.

Other participants include Philip Morris, Anheuser-Busch, Volkswagen of America, Levi Strauss, Accenture, Sony Pictures, MGM, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers.

News source: New York Times