Home On TV & Video TV Ads Breathe Life into Digital Channels

TV Ads Breathe Life into Digital Channels


On TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Daniel Gulick, insights engineer at TVSquared.

The 1979 hit song “Video Killed the Radio Star” focused on the passing of time, when “stars” created through radio programming were replaced by a new era of music videos on TV.

Fast-forward to 2017, and it might appear that the torch is being passed from traditional TV watching to second-screen viewing. But not only have second screens failed to kill TV ads, these devices have actually improved their efficacy.

Accenture reported that nearly 90% of people have digital devices in-hand or nearby when watching TV – ready to vote for their favorite artist on “The Voice” or book Fandango tickets. We all digitally interact with TV every day, whether we realize it or not.

Advertisers can now take advantage of this prevalence and make traditional TV a powerful tool to reach targeted audiences by making smartphones, tablets and laptops an ally for TV-driven responses.

The Evolution Of Direct-Response TV (DRTV)

Not so long ago, calls to action were phone numbers, promo codes or vanity URLs. They all suffered from different “ailments” – the interruption of content to talk to an operator, easily shared codes that had no content relevance and the loss of traffic for brand URLs.

Today, the touch of a smartphone is all it takes for a consumer to respond. There is no interruption (thanks, multitasking!) and responses can be directly connected to the content generating them. Calls to action have been relaxed; they can be as simple as “search now.” This makes ads feel more branded, creating both immediate response and helping with longer-term brand building. 

TV Drives Digital Responses

Even with all the varying distractions of today’s multimedia, content-driven world, traditional TV ads drive strong digital responses on a number of different channels – sometimes as much as 10 times that of baseline traffic.


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Many of these channels are closely associated with brand identity, such as search or SEO. This indicates the action is not coming from digital exposure, which is predominately driven by click-through. 

Web Traffic: TV ads are major generators of website traffic. Since viewers are already on their mobile devices as they’re watching TV ads, they can easily visit a brand’s website immediately after a spot airs. The Video Advertising Bureau reported that 82% of advertisers found a direct correlation between TV spots and website traffic.

Simply telling viewers to visit the website for more information or watch exclusive content can generate spikes in traffic and get people interested in a brand.

Search Optimization: Two-thirds of smartphone owners say they turn to their phones to learn more about something they saw in a TV commercial, according to Google. To capitalize on this, it’s important to find ways to incorporate digital-focused calls to action.

Once viewers search a product or service to learn more, the website landing page should align with the TV ad and have all the necessary information needed to move visitors forward along their path to purchase.

App Activity: Getting consumers to download a mobile app not only helps brands directly connect via push notifications, but it can also increase customer loyalty and retention rates. A Fetch study found that TV ads resulted in app-install uplifts between 56% and 74%, even showing upticks of as much as 24% 10 to 30 minutes after the airings.

By highlighting incentives for app downloads, TV ads can spark immediate action and help brands engage directly with consumers.

Social: Last fall, there were 14.2 million social media interactions about TV every day on Facebook and Twitter in the US.

The beauty of social media is it gives consumers a voice to directly communicate about what they’ve seen on TV. As such, advertisers have the opportunity to tap into that conversation by using hashtags around TV ads or asking viewers to share their thoughts on what they’ve just seen, driving higher social engagement and sentiment.

Emerging Channels: Text And Voice 

A growing number of advertisers are incorporating strong text calls to action within their TV spots. Almost 81% of Americans text regularly and, according to SinglePoint, 98% of people open SMS messages. Text responses offer a great opportunity for brands to easily respond with a more personalized experience.

Meanwhile, digital assistants, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, are expected to grow by 130% by the end of 2017. As more and more people use “Hey, Alexa” and “OK, Google” for their daily tasks, it provides advertisers a new platform to engage with consumers.

Advertisers are holding TV more accountable, largely due to second-screening. Consumers can directly respond with measureable actions, such as site visits or mobile orders. This makes TV initiatives more about immediate impact and long-term branding – not either/or anymore.

Video might have killed the radio star more than 30 years ago, but the savviest of advertisers know TV is still alive and kicking.

Follow TVSquared (@tvsquared) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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