Searches Spike When Connected To TV Ads

Television advertisements generate post-ad searches not only for the brands advertised on television, but also for competing brands.

In fact, "TV ads with small audiences can produce detectable search spikes for the advertised brand, with 75% of incremental searches occurring within two minutes," estimates University of Houston Professor Rex Du, University of Minnesota Assistant Professor of Marketing Linli Xu, and U.C. San Diego Associate Professor Kenneth Wilbur in a white paper presented at a recent ARF Annual Conference. The white paper is called "TV Ads and Search Spikes: Toward a Deeper Understanding."

Sometimes the television ad works as a reminder to do something or purchase a product. The researchers found that spikes on search engines vary based on the ad content. Spikes are typically larger after brand-focused ads compared with price-focused ads, and after less informative ads than after more informative ads.



The spikes also vary based on the contextual media such as network, the use of dayparting and program genre, but their influence will differ across brands.

The white paper offers insight into two studies showing the influence of TV ad insertions on searches. In the first study the group analyzes two daily fantasy sports brands for three months.

Post-ad search spikes were detectable for these brands, even for ads with small audiences. The results show that "after controlling for audience size and brand effects, ad content and media factors explained an incremental 54% of the variation in post-ad search spikes."

The most revealing data came from the second study, done with three pickup truck brands. This study merges brand search data from half a million minutes with audience data for more than 40,000 national TV ad insertions. This main study replicates the results of the pilot study and show that about 75% of incremental search occurs either in the minute the ad begins or during the following minute.

It also shows that the effects of media factors are brand-specific, and consumers who view the ad are more likely to buy in the advertised product category, producing larger search spikes. The findings also show that brand-focused ads produce larger search spikes than price-focused ads, and search spikes are smaller after more informative ads.

The white paper discusses the findings of the studies, examines benefits of minute-by-minute search data or second-by-second brand Web site traffic data to estimate advertising responses, and explains how to use this data to support television advertisements and digital advertising.  

Overall, the findings suggest that "marketers should consider post-ad search spikes in conjunction with other metrics when evaluating and purchasing TV ads." And while the paper analyzes how marketers can better leverage digital metrics, such as online search in assessing TV ad effectiveness, the research isn't meant to "advise marketers to abandon traditional measures of advertising response, such as online sales, store track, or brand mindset metrics."

2 comments about "Searches Spike When Connected To TV Ads".
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  1. Andreas Schroeter from wywy, March 28, 2017 at 2:48 p.m.

    The results are very much in line with our own studies:
    - We found that 80% of incremental search volume happens within the first 90 seconds. 
    - The actual incremental lift depends on the TV channel, the TV ad, the product and the product. We saw up to double the regular traffic for one automotive brand, for example.

    That said, many brands advertising on TV do not appear on top of the search results when TV viewers turn to Google/Bing for more information, basically paying for the TV-inspired search with their TV ads and then letting other parties take advantage of this effect.

  2. Jim Dickson from Bedrock Concepts, Inc., April 6, 2017 at 6:47 p.m.

    I agree with Andreas.  Search volume DOES increase immediatly following exposures.  Not everyone has the savvy or the budgets to take advantage of paying for the optimization of their brand on Bing/Google/Etc coordinated with their TV buys.  Why not let the viewer connect to the buyer instantly through the televison station that aired the spot?  Why not let them gather the important viewer demos and affinities in the process?

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