Action TV stations

It is important to respond, to act. Ask Gordon Brown about biscuits and he’d better respond with something – anything – or else there will be trouble. Deafening silence rarely suggests success.

Advertising doesn’t always expect an instant response; often it is trying to change the way people feel or think about a brand.  But if advertising doesn’t eventually lead to a response (ideally a purchase or a change in behaviour), then it is difficult to see its point.

But the issue of attribution is a tricky one; how can you identify everything that has contributed to a response?  This is just as true in online media, despite their supposed easy accountability.  The online world is trying to ditch the ‘last click wins’ model in order to assign value to other online ad exposures that precede the final response.  Fair enough, but once the online world has opened that particular can of worms they must acknowledge the contribution of the radio ad, the PR coverage in the paper and, most significantly, the TV campaign that is running, or has previously run.  Is, in fact, the supposed accountability of online more misleading than enlightening?  This question of credit going where it is due is crucial if advertisers are to gain a better understanding of how advertising works.

So it is rather handy that a new econometric study from MediaCom, commissioned by Thinkbox, has measured TV advertising’s ability to send people online. It is the first time that the instant effect TV ads have on web response has been measured and made publically available.

Over a period of three months MediaCom analysed over 175,000 TV spots and the activity they caused on different advertisers’ websites in 10 minute intervals for seven leading brands across six different markets. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

Two of the headline findings from their analysis are:

  • When TV’s correct share of online responses is added to phone responses, TV accounts for 30% of all short term advertising responses, and even more when TV’s contribution to the long term is considered

  • Of that 30%, a third occurs within just 10 minutes of seeing the TV ad – 15% by phone and 20% via the internet

We knew anecdotally that TV advertising has a massive impact on internet traffic, sending people to brand websites, either directly or via search, retailer or comparison sites. Google have confirmed it themselves and they have kindly provided us with some fancy graphs showing the dramatic effect of TV on search.  But to be able to put some robust headline numbers to it is a big step forward.

The study concludes that TV advertising has been undervalued because its ability to generate viewer response online is generally not accounted for. Until now, DRTV optimisation at spot level has been based largely on the patterns of telephone response, which has been declining as a response channel. Across the seven brands, phone response had declined from over 85% to less than 40% of responses in the last 8 years.

The wider context to the research is that the take-up of home broadband and increasing laptop ownership has effectively brought the High Street into the living room. There is so little now to stop people from shopping for a product immediately after seeing a TV ad. TV ads are now at the point of sale.

It is another example of TV and online media’s ‘special relationship’, as Google recently put it. TV advertising provokes both emotion and action; and internet media enable people to act on their emotions immediately.

  • Dave Brennan
    Dave Brennan
    Former Research and Strategy Director
  • Posted under
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