Direct marketing agency leader Peter Koeppel of Dallas-based Koeppel Direct has published a rather remarkable article in Forbes entitled “Measuring TV Advertising’s Impact On Website Traffic” that makes a definitive case for DRTV’s unmatched ability to drive traffic to an advertiser’s website. I say remarkable, because to my knowledge nobody has drawn a straight line between a spot running on TV and the corresponding impact of online response in explicit quantitative terms. We recently sat down with Peter, a Wharton MBA, to talk about his findings and the implications that they have for marketers.
RP: TV seems to have lost some of its sheen for advertisers as much of the hubbub revolves around digital and social media. What is your overriding impression of this trend?
PK: There’s no question that media usage habits are changing, but there is still nothing quite like the power of TV to build awareness. I think that’s why you see so many businesses that began life as a dot com now employing TV. They’ve tapped out their ability to grow via digital and social alone, and realize that in order to get increased scale, nothing is as powerful as television. All of these various media platforms are interconnected, which is why we’ve built a full suite of services with our agency to ensure we meet the consumer not just via TV, but wherever it is they happen to be.
RP: I know you’ve been keen on promoting the idea that Nielsen and other third-party research has revealed which is that people are now watching TV with a second screen, most commonly their smartphone. What can you tell me about that?
PK: That dual screen behavior is really what drove us to do our study. We wanted to not only quantify what the impact of a TV spot was on driving web traffic, but also what device was being used to seek out an advertiser’s site. We saw spikes in traffic that varied from a low of about 35 percent to a peak of over 400 percent within minutes of an ad running. Not surprisingly, mobile led in every category over tablets and desktops, and was highest for an advertised weight loss solution at 68 percent. The one exception was household relocation services which was led by desktops at 49 percent. That isn’t surprising considering the amount of detail required to get a moving bid; filling out a complicated lead form doesn’t really lend itself well to the mobile environment.
RP: Interesting. What can you tell us about the methodology you employed to ascertain the impact of DRTV as it relates to a lift in online traffic?
PK: First, we established a delta that quantified the average amount of traffic for a given advertiser’s website without DRTV support. We then examined the impact of DRTV spots running against four disparate categories of products and services using different spot lengths that varied from :15 to :60 seconds. We examined an aggregate of $2.1 million in media buys, so this analysis would be robust and not based upon unreliable numbers. In every instance there was significant lift, but it did vary depending upon the category. At the same time, somewhat surprisingly, some of the shorter length spots actually delivered more eyeballs.
Peter Koeppel, founder and president of Koeppel Direct
RP: That’s fascinating. I wrote a column in 2015 entitled “Gone In 60 Seconds: Rethinking DRTV Ad Lengths” and the basic premise was that the modern, distracted consumer doesn’t need as much time to decide whether or not a proposition is of interest to them, since they are immediately going online if their curiosity has been whetted. Do you think that’s true?
PK: For sure. For example, in our analysis of the campaign for household relocation services, the :15 actually delivered a bigger spike of online activity than the :30, but the :30 had a longer tailing effect whereby consumers kept coming to the site for many minutes after the spot ran. Nearly half of the response came in over desktop computers so it suggests that the commercial got their attention, and then they went into their study or home office and got online to learn more. Again, given the complexity involved in planning a move, wanting to go to that bigger screen makes perfectly logical sense.
Conversely, in a campaign for a weight loss/body sculpting procedure, the :30 outperformed the :15. This is a higher ticket item where our findings suggest that extra time was necessary to make a convincing case for the product. At the same time, it delivered the highest overall spike of increased website activity – at over 400 percent – which is, again, not at all surprising given people are always looking for solutions in this category. On the other hand, the lowest level of response was a campaign for brokerage services which, when you think about it, is a category that requires thoughtful consideration, and one where consumers may be more resistant to make a decision or make a change from their existing situation.
RP: Why do you think we haven’t seen more of this kind of research published?
PK: Attribution is a complex combination of art and science that requires significant knowledge and investment. We have data scientists on staff who delve into the data so that we will have insight that is actionable. This relationship between offline and online advertising enables us to create multilayered campaigns where we can meet the consumer at a place of their choosing – with the proper timing to strike when interest is at its highest – regardless of what screen a prospect is peering at. It’s entirely possible that some agencies are just planning and buying media using an outdated playbook. That would explain why you don’t see more definitive analysis of cause and effect between TV advertising and channel impact. All of us in the industry understand that there is an impact intuitively, but clients want definitive proof to ensure they are spending their marketing dollars wisely.
RP: Speaking of wisdom, thank you for sharing yours with us today!
PK: Thank you.
Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.