DTC advertisers turn to search to evaluate their TV ads’ performance

Direct-to-consumer marketers are taking a closer look at the relationship between their ads running on TV and the search traffic to their sites and apps, in order to keep their costs in check and improve the return on their growing investment in TV advertising.

Weight loss brand Golo knows that 20% to 25% of people conduct an online search for the brand before becoming a customer, according to Golo CTO Alex Razzook. The brand also knows a similar percentage of that search traffic is likely spurred by people seeing one of its ads on TV and searching for the brand’s name. But as it has become more expensive to advertise against search queries that include a brand’s name, Golo has started to work to get a better grasp of the dynamic between its TV ads and search-driven traffic.

While many DTC marketers have shifted some of their spending from digital channels like Facebook and Google toward TV, they continue to advertise online and are looking to use their digital channels to wring better performance out of the money they increasingly spend on TV. At the center of that complementary strategy is search, which DTC marketers see as the bridge between the people they reach on TV and the customers they convert online.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Golo began having an in-house team use TV analytics firm TVSquared’s tools to measure the impact of its TV ads on its site’s search traffic. The marketer had seen that the metrics it uses to judge the efficiency of its TV advertising were heading in the wrong direction. The cost of getting someone to visit the brand’s website had increased by 32%, while its media efficiency ratio, a metric used to evaluate its return on ad spend, had decreased by 25%, according to Razzook. After working with TVSquared, Golo was able to identify the issues affecting those metrics, such as an issue with its agency’s attribution model, and the metrics returned to their previous levels, which freed up more money for the brand to spend on TV ads. The company’s aim is to stay on top of the TV-search dynamic so that it can adjust its fluctuating digital spend to better complement the $1.3 million that Golo spent on TV advertising in the most recent quarter, he said. A potential next phase of the brand’s work would be to adjust its search buying strategy to automatically adjust its bids around the time that its ads air on TV in order to better control search’s variable costs, he said.

Men’s shopping brand Touch of Modern began to invest in TV advertising in the name of efficiency. The brand had advertised exclusively online until the second half of 2017, when it focused on turning a profit and saw its marketing budget as an opportunity to cut costs. The company tested its first TV ads in late Q3 2017. “That was also in line with our shift toward profitability. So I think TV had a pretty big role to play,” said Touch of Modern CEO Jerry Hum.

Since it began to advertise on TV in 2017, Touch of Modern’s TV advertising budget has ballooned. In 2018 the brand spent $33.9 million on TV ads, up from $852,000 in 2017, according to an analysis conducted by the Video Advertising Bureau, a trade group that focuses on TV and video advertising. According to Hum, the brand’s TV investment continues to grow and now represents “the majority of our marketing spend.”

However, while Touch of Modern has upped its TV spend, it hasn’t needed to up its overall marketing spend. “When we introduce another channel, we essentially cut digital in half,” Hum said. Not only has the brand been able to save money that would have been spent online, but its online performance appears to have improved because of its TV investment.

“Since running television ads, we’re getting a lot more search volume coming in through Google. So we’re able to get better scale at the cost that we were paying before,” Hum said. Corresponding with Touch of Modern’s TV spend increase in 2018, the number of search queries related to its ads increased by 3,398% in 2018, according to the VAB.

Using a combination of its own analytics, analytics from its agency Marketing Architects and analytics from TVSquared, Touch of Modern has been able to estimate if a person visiting its site through search had seen its ad on TV first. “So far it actually turns out that the group of people coming from TV are some of our highest value customers,” Hum said. He attributed the higher value of TV-driven customers to those customers being more likely to use their phones to visit its site after seeing its ad on TV. “Mobile users, for us, are most valuable,” he said.

This article has been updated to reflect that, after the article published, Razzook clarified that Golo spent $1.3 million on TV advertising in the most recent quarter.


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