7 checkpoints to hit before testing performance TV advertising

By Karl Ohaka

Most people associate TV advertising with big names, such as McDonald’s or Apple, spending millions of pounds on glossy brand awareness campaigns. But in recent years, online businesses have taken the medium beyond pure brand. Instead, they’ve been using TV as a performance tool to drive traction to their websites or apps.

According to Thinkbox’s recent figures and forecasts, online businesses are the biggest spenders on TV. Used correctly, businesses in the ecommerce industry can utilise TV to grow efficiently, with the medium providing a reach that no other can.

The foundation for a high performing TV campaign starts long before you go into production or book your media. Here are seven important things to consider before you set up your first campaign.

1. Define your TV strategy and goals

The first and most important step to outlining your TV strategy is identifying your relevant target audience. Defining your TV strategy, and aligning these to your strategic marketing activity, is key to ensuring that a TV campaign will be a successful part of the business value chain.

The best way to identify your target group is to conduct customer insight research to properly define your demographic. You can also incorporate in-house data to understand your most valuable users.

It’s vital that you identify the key drivers of your target audience so that you can encourage them to take action – whether this is visiting the website, making a purchase, or installing the app. This will allow you to shape the positioning and messaging for your TV creative.

Chart for online businesses investing in TV

2. Optimise your creative

Your creative is the crucial factor in whether your target audience will respond to seeing your TV spot. According to a 2017 report from Nielsen Catalina Solutions on advertising effectiveness, while several factors are vital in contributing to sales, creative is still the most important advertising element, driving 47% of purchases.

Factors ranging from the wording of the Call to Action (CTA) to the clarity of overall messaging can determine how well you influence respondents. So, make sure your creative matches up with the goal of the campaign and the position of your product in the market.

Typical TV spot lengths are between 10, 20, 30, and 60 seconds. When planning the production of your creative, it’s important to be mindful that the length of the TV spot is a critical factor that you can use to optimise your performance-driven media planning and spend.

Advertising data

While shorter TV spots have a lower media cost, longer spots may be more effective in driving response, and often a mix of shorter and longer TV spots can combine frequency as well as impact. Depending on the business model, regional TV spots can also be used to ensure your creative resonates with different audiences across the country.

To maximise performance, a strong and obvious CTA is key to driving viewers directly to your website, online store, or app. If you are investing in both performance and long-term brand awareness, the CTA should be intertwined naturally into a more storytelling-oriented concept.

Moreover, if the plan is to run campaigns internationally, it’s important to consider localisation of the spot: looking into voiceover, look, and feel before production.

Open book

3. Get to know your target group

The keystone of setting up a well-performing campaign is in the mixing of TV channels. When you select your channel mix for a TV campaign, it’s important to consider three things: your budget, your goals, and, most importantly, your target group.

Different channels vary widely in the audience they address with their programming, and how broad a reach they can offer. Additionally, the timing for your spot placement can make a huge difference in both reaching your target group and in price.  

Affinity can give you a good idea of how well a channel fits your target group. This data is usually available via TV planning tools. But that doesn’t mean that you must stick to affinity religiously. In fact, investing in a few channels beyond your target group can help you gain more reach when you’ve run out of potential in target group niche channels.

When you plan your media for a performance-oriented campaign, gross rating points (GRPs) are not your highest priority. Generally, you want to aim for a low cost per mille (CPM) combined with high affinity. The idea is to achieve reasonable frequency of airings on very targeted channels, giving the viewers with the highest potential to respond more chances to see your spot.

Man holding TV remote

4. Find the right channels to reach this target audience

To better understand how different TV channels contribute to a campaign’s media strategy, it’s helpful to cluster and categorise your channels by reach and expected CPX performance based on their CPM and affinity to your target group.

You should see a few basic groupings form, which you can refine the more you test different channels. On the one end of the spectrum, you have niche or paid TV channels that are extremely likely to perform, and on the other end of the spectrum, popular nationwide channels with a very broad reach. And of course, there are myriad mid-sized channels with moderate CPM in between.

It is important that you are aware of your campaign goals and the role each of these types of channels play in driving your strategy forward. For a pure performance campaign, you will, of course, want to focus on channels with a low-expected CPX.

TV camera

Regardless, it’s important to include a few channels with somewhat higher reach into the mix, even when performance is your target. Niche channels have natural limitations on the reach they can offer, so to be able to scale your business with TV media, you will need to do a proper media plan that includes branching out into bigger channels.

Understand that while this may give you a higher CPX overall, you’re also likely to see added benefits to your brand awareness and customer lifetime value.

5. Take the time of day and the season into account

To make the most out of your budget, consider booking daytime slots. Not only is cost significantly lower than prime time slots, it may reach your target group better than you think. It’s a common misconception that no-one watches TV during the day: in actuality, many people do. For example, shift workers, or people on maternity or sick leave.

Experience shows that these are some of the most high-performing timeslots. Also, daytime TV tends to have better response rates than prime time. This is due to the fact that viewers are normally more engaged in the programming during prime time, whereas during daytime TV, they’re more likely to be on a second screen in parallel.

It’s also important to consider the seasonality of your campaign. Depending on the product, interest within the target group might fluctuate from season to season – but be aware that the price of TV media also varies depending on the month.

It may still be beneficial overall to run a campaign in a more expensive month if you expect demand for your product to be especially high during that time, but a careful cost/benefit analysis is advisable to justify the higher media costs.

6. Make sure your product, app, or website is good to go

Before launching the campaign, the user/customer journey on your website or app should be clear, and all aspects of your logistics supply chain, payment solutions, and software should be in great working order. In some cases, this may be the first time a customer engages with your brand and you only get to make one first impression.

It is also important that your team considers that the TV campaign will deliver a significant spike in traffic that you likely have not seen before through any other channel. A huge percentage of the brand traffic to your website or app from the TV spot is likely to happen within 2-3 minutes of the spot going to air. It’s vital that your website and server can handle the uplift of visitors to your website.

If your TV spot features a specific product, make sure that it’s also featured prominently on the website, and you have a considerable amount of supply in stock. Customers are likely to convert if they can find the product they want easily, and it’s crucial to give them a good customer experience overall.

Online retail

7. Align all your other marketing channels

It’s important to remember that TV is only one element of an overall marketing strategy. A performance TV campaign should run in conjunction with other channels to generate new demand and convert leads effectively.

Digital marketing plays a huge role in converting the new leads you’ll be creating through your TV campaign, and you’ll see an impact on most of your other marketing channels. An example of digital channels that work well with a TV campaign is retargeting ads that are crucial to keep users from dropping out of the marketing funnel after they’ve visited your site.

It is worthwhile to also retarget your TV viewers, with dedicated creative and communication specifically designed to reach them. Retargeting is one of the most effective ways to capture customers who have already expressed interest in your product.

Karl Ohaka, Head of ATL (Above the Line) Media, DCMN UK

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